‘Research will be the first of its kind for NZ’

Now results from the first cohort of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Beef Progeny Test have been released, researchers will begin collecting data for the next stages of the project, including data from cows and heifers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics national beef genetics manager Max Tweedie said some of those studies would be ‘‘a first for New Zealand’’.

‘‘Now we are looking for on-going information about cows: their maternal performance; constitution; fertility and stayability [in the herd],’’ Mr Tweedie said.

‘‘That is the long game.’’

He said they also intended to collect data about the eating quality of the carcasses at the abattoir.

‘‘That research will be the first of its kind for New Zealand.’’

The Beef Progeny Test (BPT) study to date has looked at Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and how valuable they were likely to be in predicting the performance of a bull’s progeny.

Mr Tweedie was delighted with the results, which were released last month.

‘‘In terms of validating EBVs, it had not been done before in New Zealand commercial conditions,’’ Mr Tweedie said.

‘‘Averaged across all of the traits we measured, bulls’ EBVs delivered on average 73% of the performance they predicted,’’ he said.

‘‘That means using bulls with better EBVs gives you reliably better calves, that is, on average, calves perform in line with what their sires’ figures predicted. And the consequence of that is better returns.’’

Mr Tweedie said the first mating for the test was in 2014 and involved about 2200 cows and heifers on five large commercial properties each year. He said the progeny had been monitored for key performance traits.

‘‘Steers are assessed on their finishing and carcass traits, while replacement heifers are tracked for their maternal characteristics.’’

He said there had not been the information available in New Zealand to validate beef EBVs and prove that it was working, although studies had been done in Australia.

‘‘However, that was before BLNZG as there was not a presence in the New Zealand industry to do that before.’’

He said the current study used Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Charolais and Stabilizer, but further testing in later cohorts now included additional breeds and testing bulls across dairy cows for dairy beef performance.

He said they intended to host a field day later to provide farmers with further information.

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