Genetics research breeding better breeders

News release | 27-Apr-2018

A five-year research project is giving Queensland graziers up-to-date genetics information to help boost reproduction rates in their herds.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Science Director, Beef and Sheep Bob Karfs said the project, which commenced in 2013, was aimed at generating large amounts of female reproduction data on key genetics from Brahman, Santa Gertrudis and Droughtmaster cattle.

“Sophisticated ultrasound technology is being used to intensively record data to determine how soon heifers reach puberty and then how long it takes them to recommence the breeding cycle after calving,” Mr Karfs said.

“All animals in the project have complete genomic profiles using the latest DNA chips and this is coupled with the performance data to drive increased accuracy of the genetic predictions.

“This vital information helps beef producers determine weaning rates and allows commercial producers to make better selection decisions when buying bulls and seedstock breeders that will ultimately improve reproduction rates in their herds.

“The project, co-funded by Meat and Livestock Australia, is being undertaken by a consortium led by Dr David Johnston from the University of New England.

“Research is being conducted at the Spyglass Research Facility, Brian Pastures at Gayndah and the Douglas Daly Research Farm in the Northern Territory.”

DAF Research Facility Manager Sean Reed said Spyglass, located approximately 110 kilometres north of Charters Towers, played a leading role into research to advance tropical and subtropical beef production and ecosystem management and host development, extension, education and training programs.

“Work done at this purpose-designed facility is vital for the future profitability and sustainability of Queensland’s beef industry and complements the Queensland Government’s other state-of-the-art research facilities,” Mr Reed said.

“Research carried out at Spyglass will address a range of issues including growth, welfare and husbandry.

“Aside from the ongoing identification and validation of improved beef cattle genetics, investigations are also being conducted into the causes of and solutions for reproductive inefficiencies such as embryo and newborn calf loss.”

More information about Spyglass and other ways DAF supports Queensland’s $5.4 billion beef industry will be showcased at the Beef Australia 2018 event in Rockhampton from Sunday 6 May to Saturday 12 May.

Representatives from the Department’s beef extension and biosecurity teams will be at the Sidney Kidman Pavilion to provide support and extension advice to Queensland livestock producers.

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Media contact: Brad Muir, (07) 3087 8600