The South African Beefmaster breeders will be on equal footing with Beefmaster breeders from the USA when Stud Book releases the first Genomic breeding values for the breed by end of August 2017. The Society’s decision to join other Societies to be part of the Beef Genomics Program, funded by the Technology Innovation Agency is bearing fruit. The advantage of including genomic information in the prediction of genetic merit, by fitting more comprehensive BLUP models, will enable breeders and commercial buyers of breeding stock to reduce the risk in making decisions, especially in considering young selection candidates. This is particularly of value for economically important traits that can only be observed or measured on females, such as maternal ability (milk) and female fertility. In practice, this means that the accuracy of the BLUP breeding value for two to three-year old bulls, offered for sale, for these traits will equal that of bulls with measured progeny and even grand progeny (in the case of milk breeding values). The accelerated pace of implementation of Genomic Breeding Values for the Beefmaster breed is due to the immediate jump to the latest scientific development in genomic incorporation, namely the “Single Step” method. In short, this method makes use of the true relatedness of all animals with known genomic values to link the likelihood of a specific genetic merit (breeding value).
This obviously leads to numerous possibilities for a global breed, such as the Beefmaster, especially when the importation of semen of a foreign bred bull is considered. By including, for example, the genomic information of such bulls in the South African genetic evaluations, a fairly accurate assessment can be made of its genetic merit among the local population of Beefmaster cattle. For this reason, and to explore even more new possibilities of cooperation, the Beefmaster Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa, Stud Book and BBU (Beefmaster Breeders United) from the USA have engaged in discussions to further these goals.
The Beefmaster Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa has also adopted an updated version of the Logix Cow Value developed by Stud Book for the breed, that, for the first time include genetic merit for longevity and a refinement of the definition for cow maintenance related to the maintenance energy differences due to milk production while suckling their calves. The other trait groups contributing to the cow value are calving ease, pre-wean growth, milk and female fertility.
The Beefmaster Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa and the SA Stud Book are excited by the prospects of this important event. This also necessitates regular monthly genetic evaluations for the breed and a genomics service enabling breeders and buyers of Beefmaster cattle to benefit from the latest technology and to make timely and secure breeding decisions. These values are available on die Logix web site for individual breeders (www.logix.org.za) and on all the Stud Book published reports and catalogues. Open access to genetic merit of individual animals or to search for suitable selection candidates, is also available on www.SABeefBulls.com. Animals with genomic profiles used in the gBLUP analyses can be identified by the now familiar “Genotyped” logo.
Japie van der Westhuizen
SA Stud Book and Animal Improvement Association
13 August 2017
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