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                                                   bull’s roar
                                            I S S U E   O N E   O C T O B E R           2 0 0 8


    Rennylea is always at the forefront of technical innovation and new ideas in the
    cattle industry. The aim of this newsletter is to distribute news and information
    we gleen through our extensive travels and contacts within the industry .
    Not the gossip, but industry developments, economic factors affecting the
    industry and technical items of interest. The first two reports deal extensively
    with genetic technologies relating to the new areas of animal selection.

                  FEDERATION OF AMERICA’S
                  CONFERENCE IN CALGARY

                  EKKA ARCBA SEMINAR

                  BEEFEX CONFERENCE 2008
                  “EMBRACING CHANGE”

  Forward this to any interested parties.
  If you would like to receive a copy
  directly, send your email address to
  Website at
   bull’s roar


Held in early July, the topics included DNA technologies, value added marketing and traceability.
The full papers, audio and in some cases powerpoint presentations are available at

In his paper, Dr. Mike Test from Montana gave a useful        4. Selection tests are used to estimate breeding value (i.e.,
definition of the different DNA test used or being            distinguish among animals on the basis of their progeny
developed. These are:                                         performance). Traits may be qualitative or quantitative in
1. Parentage Identification/Validation tests are used         nature. Qualitative traits are controlled by one or a few loci,
to identify or validate the parents of calves. They involve   and phenotypes generally fall into distinct classes (e.g.,
testing the calves and at least one parent.                   presence of horns, coat color, and certain genetic defects).
2. Identification/Traceability tests are used to track        Quantitative traits are controlled by many loci. Quantitative
animals and their tissues through the food production         phenotypes may be measured on a continuous scale (e.g.,
chain as animals and their products change ownership          weights) or in classes (e.g. pregnant or open).
and move from location to location. Variation in DNA is
used to identify individual animals. Each animal being        In Australia we have a similar situation, where parentage
tracked must be tested.                                       and traceability are now commonly used, management
3. Management tests are used to predict the future            tests to identify phenotypes for supply chain value are
phenotypes of the animals tested in specific production-      being introduced, such as the tenderness DNA test in
marketing systems. They are based on identifying              Bos indicus cattle. It is the selection tests, in the difficult to
differences in total genetic merit among animals (i.e.,       measure traits, or quantitative phenotypes which are still
additive and non-additive genetic merit).                     to be developed, including traits such as marbling and net
                                                              feed intake.

i Combining gene markers into genetic evaluation systems,     iii The US Meat Animal Research Centre, (the Clay
a number of the presentations deal with the move to use       Centre) released the across herd values for multibreed
gene markers for genetic improvement systems. The             comparisons, for 16 breeds, which are given in a BIF
challenges mirror those we are experiencing in Australia      breakout session paper. We can be very envious of this
    ÿ The confusion being created by different                in Australia, as our multibreed EBV work has stalled and
        commercialization     routes,     products,   lack    would enable across breed genetic comparisons.
        of validation, similar to Australia there are
        claims of effects with traits, that have not been     Other papers deal with the supply chain, branded products
        independently validated. These claims are in the      firmly entrenched, with modern overlays of ‘story beef’,
        difficult to measure traits, which confounds the      animal welfare and natural production systems, driven by
        ability of breeders to make decisions based on        a more demanding consumer.
        worthwhile information.
    ÿ The complexity created with too much information
        to make sound genetic progress.
    ÿ The need for a single national database to handle
        phenotypic information, develop methodology to
        combine estimated breeding values with DNA
        information. Dr. John Pollak goes so far as to
        suggest not only a ‘national DNA database to
        ensure standardized validation, but ‘a universal
        one’ which would enable global evaluation.

ii Parentage analysis is moving from microsatellite to SNP
methodology and this appears to be successful for more
than 95% of cases.
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In the first week of August Lucinda spent three days at the Brisbane EKKA, Queensland’s
agricultural show.
The unique feature of the show is The Meating Place, a        Genomics Seminar to discuss the future for DNA markers
large hall which features large attractive posters of the     in the Australian industry. Full papers are available from
cattle industry, Qld’s largest industry outside mining. A     the Australian Association of Registered Cattle Breeders.
continuous programme including celebrity cook offs, a         Don Nicol described the Smartgene project set up to test
leather and wool fashion prarade, real farmer talks, the      the effect of the 12 genes commercially available. Dr. Hans
singing butchers, a ‘residue sniffer’ dog are held here       Graser described the results that showed that the current
during the show, promoting the industry to the general        suite of markers are uninformative in the CRC’s database
public.                                                       for tenderness, marbling and net feed intake in Bos taurus
                                                              cattle. A significant effect was found for two of the four
The Association of Registered Cattle Breeders held a Cattle   tenderness markers in the Bos indicus database.

The Smartgene project has had a number of consequences.       collection of phenotypes in the seedstock sector.
It has highlighted the need to independently validate
markers in populations other than those in which the          Other presentations from the Beef CRC illustrated the
markers were discovered. It has also highlighted the need     changing world of beef genomics. Chief Executive Officer,
to combine marker estimations with phenotype estimations      Dr. Heather Burrow, described new international scientific
through Breedplan for more accurate predictability of the     collaborations, which will assist in coordinating resource
difficult to measure traits. It has created urgency in the    populations of cattle for discovery and validation, and will
need to establish a national database for independent         develop larger SNP chips. Professor Mike Goddard gave
validation of gene marker effects prior to their inclusion    his view of the future for DNA technologies, the abstract is
in Breedplan. And finally it set in motion planning for the   below.
establishment of an “Information Nucleus” to improve the

Potential Impact of DNA markers in Beef & Dairy Cattle Breeding – Prof. Mike Goddard

Most traits of economic importance are controlled by a        double the rates of genetic gain currently being achieved
large number of genes and by environmental factors. By        in the beef and dairy industries. However, it is also likely
using a large number of DNA markers it will be possible       to disrupt accepted structures such as breed societies and
to accurately predict the breeding value of cattle from       national evaluation systems. To maximize the benefits that
DNA markers alone. This point .has not yet been reached       the industries achieve from this new technology, a system
because it is proving harders to validate markers across      to incorporate marker data into national EBVs is proposed.
a wide variety of cattle than expected. Within Holsteins      DNA marker data will be used for other purposes besides
it is now possible to predict the breeding value for milk     calculations of EBVs and, as the cost decreases and the
production traits of young bulls and heifers with an          benefits increase, I predict that most commercial cattle will
accuracy of 70%. In beef cattle the accuracy is lower,        have DNA profiles. Gaining maximum benefits from this
partly because we are dealing with a large range of           will be a challenge for the next decade and more.
breeds. This technology has the potential to more than
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In the second week of October, Lucinda attended the BeefEx conference, held by the Australian
Lot Feeders Association on the Gold Coast.

This is a very successful bi annual event, this year            greenhouse gas inventories for the lot feeding industry.
attended by over 450 delegates. It was heartening to see        For example, enteric emissions for lot feeding in Australia
the optimism from the delegates after a very tough couple       are based on calculations using a 30 year old paper on
of years, very similar to producers who have been in            US dairy cattle, by Moe and Tyrell. He also describes how
drought for much of this time.                                  the Kyoto protocol also prescribes the methodology for
                                                                the calculation of methane emissions from feedlot manure
Papers at this year’s conference focused on the major           management and shows that the methodology is basically
issues, cost of grain in producing a quality product, “Farts,   flawed.
Facts and Fiction on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the
Lot Feeding Industry”, international factors such as the        A calculation for the cost of emissions from a 10,000 head
competition from a subsidized ethanol industry, and some        feedlot, turning off 36,000 head per annum is given. It
technical and human resource papers.                            shows that total greenhouse gas emissions are about 6kg
                                                                CO2 equivalents per kg of hot carcase weight gain. If CO2
Dr. Peter Watts from FSA Consulting gave a comprehensive        is valued at $50 per tonne, this would equate to 22,600
paper on the rules, and calculations and the anomalies in       tonnes of CO2 e for a total cost of $1,130,000 per annum.

From this paper on the feedlot industry, and indeed in most
parts of agriculture is that research is urgently needed.
For copies of any papers go to the Australian Lot Feeders


1. Strategic research into new methods and measures of                of carbon sequestration in soils using perennial
   ruminant green house gas production.                               species and different grazing management
2. Applied research to test the utility of technologies and
   modes of action in the long-term mitigation of methane        5. Development of farm-scale predictions from global
   emissions.                                                       circulation models to assist farmers in long-term
                                                                    planning through accessing work done by CSIRO
3. International collaborative methane mitigation R&D.              and Bureau of Meteorology (The Managing
                                                                    Climate Variability Program)
4. Participation in the national CCRSPI framework
   response to address issues of common interest across           Future issues of Bull’s Roar will deal with adaptation to
   the agricultural industries, including the quantification      climate change as more information comes to hand.

                                                                    Rennylea Sales for 2009
 Please forward this to any interested parties,
 If you would like to receive a copy directly send                  Autumn sale: 10th March, 2009 @ 11am
 your email address to                         - 75 bulls
 Website at                             Spring sale: 27th August, 2009 @ 1pm
                                                                    - 125 bulls

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