Gene hints disseminated

Beef genetics technologies experts Andrew Byrne (left) and Christian Duff (far right), from...
Beef genetics technologies experts Andrew Byrne (left) and Christian Duff (far right), from Australia, flank North Otago stud Angus breeders Rose and Neil Sanderson at a beef genetics forum. Photo by Sally Rae.
Commercial beef farmers had an opportunity to increase their knowledge and gain a better understanding of the estimated breeding values (EBVs) system at a recent beef genetics forum in North Otago.

The forum, hosted by Fossil Creek Angus and Goldwyn Angus, was held at Neil and Rose Sanderson's Fossil Creek Angus stud at Ngapara.

The discussion included the relevance of subjective and objective information when selecting bulls, how to interpret and use genetic information when buying bulls, how to simplify bull selection with selection indices and how to source bulls on the internet with the best genetic package for a particular herd.

Forum presenters Christian Duff and Andrew Byrne are both heavily involved in beef genetic technologies in Australia.

Their presentation aimed to educate commercial farmers on how to interpret the information available so they could best use that information for their own herds.

While some commercial producers were eager to gain more knowledge, others did not want to deal with it, yet still wanted to buy the best bull for their operation, Mr Duff said.

He encouraged farmers to talk to their bull supplier and tell them exactly what they wanted a bull to do and the environment it was going into.

The pair were not telling farmers which way they should breed.

"We're saying, here's the information to help you breed which way you want your herd to go," he said.

The tools were there and the trick was to know how to use the information or to talk to the stud breeder, he said.

Mr Sanderson said clients wanted to learn more and the forum had been interactive and hands-on, with cattle on site to support the presentations and discussions.

At Fossil Creek, they were not totally focused on Breedplan or EBVs or performance recording, and there was a chance to show other aspects of what they were doing.

It was all about a package - "we don't sit down and mate cows on the computer" - and it was a good to promote the balanced programme of what they did.

One farmer attending said he took an interest in EBVs because he believed in the figures. Genetics had been a "big thing" in the dairy industry and he had seen EBVs work in that industry.

New Zealand Angus Association president Bruce Alexander said people were increasingly wanting to understand the EBV system and it could be a bit daunting at first. It was good to get some expert advice.

Looking at the trends over the past 20 years, genetic improvement was certainly going the right way and that needed to continue, he said.



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