Genetic Evaluation of Angus Animals Continues to Grow

November 29, 2016 8:51 am

The Angus breed continues to lead the Australian beef industry with the adoption of breeding and genetic technologies with breeding values now calculated for 2.18 million animals in the Angus BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation.

Angus BREEDPLAN is the genetic evaluation program adopted by Angus Australia and the New Zealand Angus Association for Angus cattle in Australia and New Zealand. Angus BREEDPLAN analyses are conducted by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI), using software developed by the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit (AGBU), a joint venture between NSW Department of Primary Industries and the University of New England.

Approximately 850 members of Angus Australia and the New Zealand Angus Association now actively participate in Angus BREEDPLAN, with 96% of animals recorded with Angus Australia with a birth date between 2011 and 2015 having estimated breeding values (EBVs) calculated.

Highlighting the commitment of Angus Australia and New Zealand Angus Association members to the use of the latest technologies, nine million performance records are now analysed within the Angus BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation, representing approximately 460,000 calving difficulty scores, 360,000 gestation length records, 1.2 million birth weights, 1.5 million weaning weights, 1.1 million yearling weights, 730,000 final weights, 2.5 million live animal ultrasound scanning measurements, 285,000 scrotal circumference measurements and 180,000 mature cow weights.

Coupled with this performance information, genomic (i.e. DNA) predictions are now incorporated into Angus BREEDPLAN for approximately 20,000 animals.

The high utilisation of breeding and genetic technologies is a point of difference for the Angus breed and is enabling Angus animals with superior genetic merit to be identified and used widely in Angus breeding programs to improve the profitability of Angus genetics in beef supply chains supplying both the domestic and export markets.

Analysis of the performance information that has been collected on Angus seedstock animals demonstrates that the genetic merit of Angus animals is now, on average, over $80 per cow mated more profitable than the equivalent Angus animals in 1990, with the genetic improvement that has been achieved primarily resulting from Angus animals being 63kg heavier live weight at 20 months of age, and having carcases that are 41kg heavier (hot standard carcase weight at 25 months), 0.6% higher yielding with 1.6% more intramuscular fat (in a 400kg dressed carcase).

The economic value of the accumulated genetic gains that have been achieved in the Angus-influenced segment of the Australia beef industry during this time have been estimated to be in excess of $2.5 billion, with additional improvements in profitability in Angus beef operations also having been achieved due to changes in management and production practices over this time.

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