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How BREEDPLAN works

Angus BREEDPLAN is the genetic evaluation program adopted by Angus Australia for Angus and Angus influenced beef cattle. Angus BREEDPLAN uses Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP) technology to produce Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) of recorded cattle for a range of important production traits (e.g. Weight, carcase, fertility).

Angus BREEDPLAN analyses are conducted by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI), using software developed by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), a joint institute of NSW Agriculture and the University of New England.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) 

BREEDPLAN draws in information from performance and genomic information on both the individual animal and the animals in its pedigree to generate EBVs.

EBVS are available for a range of traits and provide an assessment of an individuals genetic merit for the trait.

Angus BREEDPLAN EBVs are expressed as the difference between an individual animal’s genetics and a historic genetic level within the Angus BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation. EBV’s are reported in the units in which the measurements are taken and change in response to movement in the historic genetic level as a result of the inclusion of new animals and data.

 Accurate data recording of both performance and pedigree is critical in the calculation of an EBV, as errors in data will result in errors in the calculated breeding value.


Calculating EBVs with Single Step 

The implementation of the single step analytical method has demonstrated in a number of other industries to improve the accuracy of EBV calculations. Single step is the technique by which all the data related to an animal, whether that be from performance recording, pedigree or genomic testing, is converted to a breeding value.


Understanding relationships within BREEDPLAN analysis 

BREEDPLAN identifies complex relationships between animals and performance to estimate genetic merit. The following example shows 3 herds; the cows in blue share the same sire (Sire1) and the cows in black are all by other sires. The number is the cows performance for the trait being examined, with a higher number being more desirable. The cows within each herd are all treated the same way (Management or contemporary group), but each herd treats their cows differently.

What we can see from the 3 herds below is that each herd performs differently for the trait: herd 1 averaging 2.9, herd 2 averaging 5.8 and herd 3 averaging 7.8. What we also notice is that within each of the herds the blue cows, by sires 1, on average perform better than the black cows.

 So even though all the cows in herd 3 perform better than the cows in herd 1, the blue cow in herd one still performs better under the conditions then the black cows in her herd and the same can be said about the blue cows in herd 3. So what we have is non-genetic factors or genetic factors from the female side in herd 3 leading to better performance and also the genetic merit of cows by sire 1 (blue) being higher genetic merit than black cows.

 Now this is a very simple example, taking in only one performance record on directly sired animals but it does illustrate the type of complex relationships BREEDPLAN creates to determine the genetic merit of an animal and calculate an EBV.


The historic genetic level and the reference population  

 An animals EBVs are displayed as the animals genetic merit in relation to the historic genetic level. This historic genetic level is determined from a reference population, which includes all the animals that are contributing data to the BREEDPLAN analysis. In the case of Angus in Australia, this includes the performance records from over 2 million animals since 1985.