Technical information - selection

BREEDPLAN – Improving your bottom line

by Philip Mann TROPICAL BEEF TECHNOLOGY SERVICES (TBTS)

BRAHMAN NEWS MARCH 2009 Issue #162

One of the keys to financial success in business is minimizing costs while maximizing returns for your product or service. The business of Beef production, of course, is no different but it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, let alone increase, profits with ever increasing input costs and very variable beef prices. It is, therefore, increasingly important that anything e.g tool, product or service, that is available to help the beef producer to improve the efficiency of production is explored, evaluated and implemented into the production system when it is cost effective to do so.

BREEDPLAN is one of many cost effective tools that is available to help improve the efficiency of beef production. BREEDPLAN is a genetic evaluation system for beef cattle that has been available since 1985. It enables the Seedstock producer to identify superior genetics for the economically important traits for fertility, growth and carcase. These superior genetics can then be passed on to the commercial herd through performance recorded sires that possess the genes that best match the breeding objectives of the production system they enter.

If fertility can be improved to increase the number of calves produced from the same number of breeders in a shorter time frame, those calves reach target market weights at an earlier age and a higher proportion of those calves meet carcass specifications, then efficiency of production has been improved and potentially higher returns received.

While there may be other ways to achieve this outcome with the current level of genetics in your herd e.g nutrition, improving the genetics for traits of economic importance is the most cost effective way of doing it to make most efficient use of your resources i.e no additional inputs required.

Cattle that have been performance recorded with BREEDPLAN have their genetic merit displayed as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for individual traits. EBVs are expressed in the units in which they are measured e.g growth EBV in kilograms, and are relative to the genetic base for the breed i.e an animal with +40 600-day growth EBV is 40kg genetically heavier than the genetic base to which it is compared.

The Brahman breed currently have 15 EBVs calculated under which the genetic merit of performance recorded cattle can be expressed. Of these 15 (refer table 1), 1 is related to calving traits, 5 are for growth and maternal traits, 2 for fertility traits, 5 are for carcase traits and 2 are trial EBVs for Flight time (Temperament) and Tenderness. As such, there is ample scope to select sires that will posses the correct genes to lift the genetic level of your herd for the traits that you consider are economically important provided, of course, the Seedstock producer is recording the traits you require.

table 1: breedplan ebv’s currently calculated for the brahman breed

Brahman BREEDPLAN EBV Description
Birth weight (kg) Genetic differences between animals in calf birth weight measured within 24hrs of birth. (Calving trait)
Milk (kg) Genetic differences between animals in liveweight at 200 days of age due to the maternal effect (milk) of the cow. (Maternal trait)
200-day Growth (kg) Genetic differences between animals in liveweight at 200 days of age due to their own genetics for growth (Growth trait)
400-day Growth (kg) Genetic differences between animals in liveweight at 400 days (Growth trait)
600-day Growth (kg) Genetic differences between animals in liveweight at 600 days (Growth trait)
Mature cow weight (kg) Genetic differences between cows in liveweight at 5 years of age measured at the time of measuring her calfs’ 200 day weight. (Growth trait)
Scrotal size (cm) Genetic differences between animals in Scrotal size at 400 days of age. (Fetility trait)
Days to Calving (days) Genetic differences between animals in time from the start of joining to the subsequent calving. (Fertility trait)
Carcass weight (kg) Genetic differences between animals in HSCW at 650 days of age. (Carcass trait)
Eye Muscle Area (sq. cm) Genetic differences between animals in eye muscle area at the 12/13th rib site in a 300kg steer carcass (Carcass trait)
Rump fat (mm) Genetic differences between animals in fat depth at the P8 rump site in a 300kg steer carcass (Carcass trait)
Rib fat (mm) Genetic differences between animals in fat depth at the 12/13th rib site in a 300kg steer carcass (Carcass trait)
Retail Beef Yield (%) Genetic differences between animals in boned out beef yield in a 300kg steer carcass (Carcass trait)
Tenderness (kg SF) Genetic differences between animals in meat Tenderness measured in kg of shear force i.e kg of force required to pull a knife blade through a section of cooked meat. (Trial EBV)
Flight Time (sec) Genetic differences between animals in Temperament measured in seconds taken for an animal to cover a distance of 2m after exiting the crush. (Trial EBV)

EBVs are best used to compare breeding stock (in most cases sires) to determine which will be more suitable for moving your herds’ genetics in the same direction as your breeding objectives. When you try to compare sale bulls that don’t have EBVs, you have little information about how their calves will perform and which bull will in fact have a beneficial impact in your herd on those traits you consider economically important.

While EBVs are still only estimates of an animals’ true breeding value, some information is better than none! For more information regarding BREEDPLAN EBVs please contact Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS) on (07) 4927 6066 or email philip@tbts.une.edu.au

TBTS offers a ‘Closer to your Clients’ workshop package for current BREEDPLAN Seedstock herds which provides an effective means of explaining the use of EBVs to your clients. If you would like to take advantage of this workshop, please return the ‘Expression of interest’ form that has recently been mailed to all BREEDPLAN herds or otherwise download the form from the TBTS website http://tbts.une.edu.au