Several important enhancements will be made to the calculation of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for Angus cattle in Australia and New Zealand.
The enhancements form part of the annual updates that are applied to the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation (TACE), with the enhancements scheduled for implementation in the December 2023 analysis.
The enhancements scheduled for implementation in 2023 broadly fall in three main categories:
• Optimal use of genomics; including an increase in the weighting applied to genomics for all single-step EBVs and the transition to a single-step model for the Docility EBV.
• Genetic evaluation efficiency and maintenance; including a more efficient Calving Ease EBV analysis and updates to the contemporary grouping for the days-to-calving trait.
• Enhanced Research Breeding Values; including updated variance components (heritabilities) for the Mature Body Condition (MBC), Mature Cow Height (MCH), and Coat Type (CT) RBVs. Along with MBC and MCH being transitioned to a single-step model, to be consistent with the CT RBV evaluation model.
Several of the 2023 TACE enhancements are made possible through collaboration with R&D and service delivery partners, particularly the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit (AGBU) and the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI).
Angus Australia’s CEO, Mr Scott Wright explained that these enhancements are focussed on providing Angus breeders with better tools to make more accurate selection decisions. They build on Angus Australia’s long history of providing world leading genetic evaluation programs.
“This year, with our R&D collaborators and internal capability, we particularly focus on the optimal use of genomics in genetic evaluation, while also introducing evaluation efficiencies that will ensure the long-term viability of the genetic evaluation, which is important with a rapidly growing pedigree, genotype and phenotype database,” Mr Wright added.
Angus Australia’s General Manager of Genetic Improvement, Mr Christian Duff, highlighted the 2023 enhancements come as a result of Angus Australia’s growing reference population, stemming from members proactively genomically profiling their animals and collecting associated phenotypes, coupled with data from the renown Angus Sire Benchmarking Program.
“Angus Australia’s overall reference population now includes over 300,000 genotyped animals, with the majority of those having multiple phenotypes covering calving ease, growth, fertility, docility and carcase traits. It is therefore imperative our evaluation models optimally use all data, including genotypes, to provide the best EBVs possible.”
“It is also important acknowledge that while the enhancements will result in higher accuracy selection tools, Angus breeders should expect the EBVs and Selection Indexes for some individual animals to change when the enhancements are implemented,” Mr Duff said.
Angus Australia has a several initiatives planned over the month of November to explain the enhancements to Angus Australia members and the general beef industry.
Extension Manager at Angus Australia, Mr Jake Phillips explained that these activities will include a specific Angus CONNECT online webinar on the 21st November and the distribution of comprehensive explanatory information which will be sent direct to Angus Australia members prior to the enhancement being applied.
“Angus Australia members should not hesitate to contact staff at Angus Australia if they have questions about the 2023 TACE Enhancements either prior to or following the enhancements being applied in the December 2023 evaluation,” Mr Phillips added.
Members can access details about 2023 TACE enhancements and associated initiatives from the Angus Australia website, in the Angus Weekly electronic newsletter, and in Angus Australia social network channels.