A STANDARD data set for a variety of different cattle breeds could soon be a reality, according to the sector's representative body.
Research into creating multi-breed estimated breeding values (EBVs) are progressing in the northern regions of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia's program manager of livestock genetics Hamish Chandler believes they are closer to becoming a reality in the north than in the south.
Speaking at ABS 2022 Beef Conference in Tamworth on Monday, Mr Chandler said while it would be difficult to put an exact time frame on implementing multi-breed EBVs, the success of the Northern Genomics Project had left him confident it could happen in a matter of years.
"From a technical perspective, I think we're not too far off being able to run multi-breed breed plan evaluations for the northern breeds now," Mr Chandler told the conference.
"We can run multi-breed genetic evaluations in the north, it's the genomic component that needs some further development, so it comes back to agreeing to share data and make it available.
"It's difficult to put a timeline on it for that reason, but I would be hopeful in the north that we would be able to see it in the next couple of years."
The confidence comes after a similar study, the Southern Multi Breed project, was launched in Armidale, NSW, last year and which features Angus, Charolais, Brahman, Shorthorn, Hereford and Wagyu cattle.
"The Southern Multi Breed Project has still got a few years left to run and it would be good to have additional data to add into that as well," Mr Chandler said.
"While it is still quite early days the results we have been seeing out of that project have been quite promising so far.
"In the south I think it will take a bit longer to develop the data set to have adequate genetic linkage between breeds so that we can do that.
"I think we're looking at a longer leave time for southern breeds than we would be in the north."
The conference attracted producers from across the country as well as a variety of expert international presenters.
Mr Chandler's presentation was one of the most anticipated of the event and during question time, he was asked if he thought one day a multi-breed data set may sit alongside a breed plan in sale catalogues.
"It depends on what sort of agreement we can get on how we can develop those business models going forward," he said.
"Personally, I would like to see a similar sort of model to what we are using in sheep where all of the breeds, or type of production system could go into one evaluation, or get a common set of breeding values.
"That would be my preference but it may not be where we land, but in saying that, if we start publishing multiple sets of breeding values for individual animals people will start getting confused pretty easily so the more streamlined we can keep it the better."
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