THE Nindooinbah Ultrablack and Brangus stud at Beaudesert is adopting a range of genomic technologies in its genetic improvement plans, inspired by the advances in the global dairy, pork and poultry industries.
Genomics refers to the use of technologies that work at the DNA level to aid selection of superior animals compared to traditional genetic evaluation like BREEDPLAN that until recently depended on individual animal measurements.
In a significant shift in the way superior beef genetics are selected, Nindooinbahhas moved to genomics – or gene mapping – to rapidly advance to quality of its cattle.
Nindooinbah manager Nick Cameron said genomics were now being used in their embryo transfer programs. Fifty ET donor females were being initially selected from cohorts of about 300 stud cows.
Those selected ET donors are flushed and the resulting ova fertilised using male-sexed or conventional semen from selected bulls to produce about 400 embryos.
Mr Cameron said that further selections have been made when the embryos were just seven days old, 16-18 months earlier than when the same live animal would often be assessed.
This process is done by taking a tiny biopsy sample from the embryo, which is analysed by the GeneSeek laboratory at Gatton. Results are presented on specific traits such as tenderness, poll/horn and some genetic conditions.
“We’re taking 100 embryos and using DNA tests utilising a SNP chip (pronounced “snip”) plus BREEDPLAN mid-parent values to identify the top 25 embryos based on the genetic traits we are seeking,” Mr Cameron said.
"As more genomic tests become available on more traits, we will add them to our selection criteria.
“The embryos are grown in the donor females with the knowledge the resulting calf in just under nine months times carries the superior genes.
The compressed breeding cycle and shortened generation interval, accelerates the breeding program remarkably.
“The phenotype, or physical animal, is the result of its genotype, or genes, plus its environment. SNP technology is enabling us to take far more control of the genotype and produce animals with the performance abilities required by the industry.”
Nindooinbah has performance measures and tail hairs stored on more than 6000 animals. The next step is to provide genomic-enhanced EBVs.
“This will directly help improve the productivity of the northern Australian beef industry and benefit the entire beef industry,” Mr Cameron said.