New suite of breed-specific genomic tests

Shorthorn-breedShorthorn Beef members now have access to a suite of breed-specific genomic tests through Australia’s leading DNA testing service, NEOGEN, and its links direct to the IGS analysis system.

NEOGEN operates Australia’s longest running livestock genomics testing facility, which has been based at the based at the University of Queensland since the 1980s, and has led the development of new DNA tests specifically designed to assist Australian cattle breeders take their genetic selection decisions to the next level.

The NEOGEN GGP 50K test identifies the gene markers that have the greatest influence on economically important traits and is ideal for Shorthorn breeders of sale and herd bulls.

“Genomic testing is a proven method of increasing the rate of genetic improvement in your herd, delivering more profitable stock to your business faster,” NEOGEN sales and marketing manager Sarah Buttsworth said.

“Genomic testing allows animal breeders to make more informed decisions and improve the productivity and profitability of their businesses by accessing more precise information earlier in an animal’s lifecycle,”

Ms Buttsworth said NEOGEN’s GGP 50K test would also ensure that Australian breeders could make the most of Shorthorn Beef’s partnerships with IGS in North America, with results from the NEOGEN system flowing straight into the IGS calculations for estimated progeny differences (EPDs).

“In fact, the more producers who use genomic testing, the more accurate the genomic predictions from IGS will become for Australian breeders,” she said.

Like Shorthorn Beef, NEOGEN last year entered into a partnership with IGS to ensure the world’s leading test provider and the world’s largest genetic database were working in sync.

IGS is a collaboration between 13 different breed societies across the world, across three continents, and provides genetic evaluations on more than 18 million animals every week.

Adoption of the IGS system has allowed Shorthorn Beef to put the Australian Shorthorn population on the same database as the United States and Canadian Shorthorn herds, vastly improving the ability to generate accurate EPDs to enhance genetic selection decisions.

“It gives our members a competitive edge and the chance to get ahead of the herd when it comes to genetics,” Shorthorn Beef Business and Promotions Manager Graham Winnell said. “By working with NEOGEN Australasia, we can assist more Australian breeders to take advantage of the power of genomics and increase our representation on IGS’s international genetic database.”

Ms Buttsworth said increasing the size of the Australian Shorthorn reference population was vital for the breed to meet the changing demands of commercial breeders.

“A simple example is the increasing number of commercial breeders seeking pure polled (homozygous) bulls, but to meet this demand we also need to improve the accuracy of parentage verification,” she said.

“The more animals that are tested the more powerful genomic tests become for stud breeders for predicting polledness, assigning parentage, and identifying myostatin, a naturally occurring protein linked to growth rates.”

Through the GGP 50K, NEOGEN can identify these traits as well as determine genetic links to tenderness and genetically heritable conditions like Tibial Hemimelia (TB), Digital Subluxation and Pulmonary Hypoplasia with Anasarca (PHA).

“Testing for parentage and genetic conditions provides an immediate return on investment for your breeding herd when make your culling decisions,” Ms Buttsworth said.

The tests require just one sample to obtain the comprehensive suite of information, with Tissue Sampling Units (TSUs) the simplest method of collecting DNA for analysis.

“TSUs are quicker, easier and there’s less chance of a mix up when your collecting samples,” she said.

“When using TSUs, the DNA samples are collected into bar-coded vials which can be scanned into a producer’s data management system – a system which is faster and results in far fewer mistaken assignments of samples to animals.

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