Breeding Resilient Angus Cattle

November 13, 2017 9:00 am

A capacity to cope with environmental challenges, especially those leading to disease, is described as animal resilience.

A recently completed project led by CSIRO, with assistance from Angus Australia, and utilising MLA co-funding, explored associations between animal resilience traits of immune competence, stress-responsiveness and temperament in 1149 performance recorded Angus calves measured during yard weaning, and production and disease traits during feedlot finishing. This included 978 steer progeny from cohorts 2 and 3 of the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program (ASBP).

General immune competence was assessed by combining measures of antibody-mediated immune responses (AMIR), through a blood  test, and cell-mediated immune responses (CMIR), through a skin reaction test (figure 1). Pathogens, like the bacteria and viruses associated with BRD, differ in the way they infect the host animal. For instance, many bacteria live outside host cells while viruses replicate within host cells. Extra-cellular pathogens are most effectively controlled by AMIR whereas intracellular pathogens are most effectively controlled by CMIR. Therefore individuals identified as having a balanced ability to mount both types of responses are expected to exhibit broad-based disease resistance against a wide range of pathogens.

Immune competence was found to be moderately heritable and favourably correlated with stress-responsiveness and temperament. Prior vaccination and minimal mixing with unfamiliar animals at feedlot entry provided a low disease risk environment in the study. Nonetheless, animals with superior immune competence had significantly reduced health-associated diseases, significantly fewer mortalities, and incurred substantially lower health related costs during feedlot finishing.

While the results from this research are very promising, additional records are required to further validate the research results, particularly to improve genetic parameter estimation and genomic predictions. For this reason, Angus Australia in collaboration with CSIRO, are currently collecting further immune competence data on weaners in cohort 6 of the ASBP. This research will result in the collection of immune competence data on a further 1000 Angus progeny and is scheduled to be completed in late-April 2017.

Top Image: Immune competence traits being measured on the ASBP Cohort 6 weaners.

Learn more about Angus Australia’s Research & Development Programs

You’re invited to attend the Angus Sire Benchmarking (ASBP) and Cohort 6 steer viewing on Thursday the 30th of November, at the Tullimba Research Feedlot, Torryburn NSW from 2.30 – 4.30pm.

Why Come and look?

1. Learn about the latest Angus R&D.

2. Hear from Dr Linda Cafe (NSW DPI) on the Retail Beef Yield project.

3. Inspect approximately 300 ASBP Cohort 6 steers identified to their Angus sire.

4. See the Tullimba GrowSafe feed intake facilities in action.

5. View 3D camera technology that assesses muscle score and rump fat on the live steer.

Who is invited?

The day is open to ALL beef producers and industry representatives.

What is the ASBP?

The Angus Sire Benchmarking Program (ASBP) is a major R&D initiative of Angus Australia with support from MLA and industry partners such as Vetoquinol, Rangers Valley Feedlot and John Dee Abattoir. The objectives of the ASBP are:

  • Generate progeny test data on modern Angus bulls, particularly for hard to measure traits such as feed efficiency, abattoir carcase measurement, meat quality attributes & female reproduction.
  • Generate data for the validation & refinement of Angus TACE.
  • Build a comprehensive phenotype & genotype database on Australian Angus for genomic technology validation, research & development.

To help with catering, PLEASE RSVP by 22nd November

Contact Amanda Wolfe on (02) 6773 4600 or email

For more information visit