First calves born into Informing NZ Beef Programme

// Breeding and Genetics

The first calves born into the Informing New Zealand Beef Programme are now on the ground and sires have been selected for this season’s round of artificial insemination in December.

Image of cattle onfarm

The calves which were born on Pamu’s Kepler Farm in Te Anau, are part of the Beef Progeny Test which is a tranche of the $16.7 million seven-year Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) Programme.

A total of 132 heifers, in calf- through AI - to Hereford and Angus sires, are due to calve on Kepler Farm this month.

The Beef Progeny Test uses Angus and Hereford genetics to identify the performance of agreed-on traits linking with international beef genetics.

Jason Archer, Genetics Specialist with B+LNZ Genetics, says the Test got underway last spring, having secured a farm and identified bulls to create linkages to international datasets and previous progeny tests.

“Time is of the essence when dealing with biological systems so we took the opportunity to get started last spring so that we have calves on the ground this year.”

Jason says this year’s crop of bull calves will be steered and grown out to slaughter on Kepler Farm, while the heifers will be grown out, live scanned for carcass traits and mated as yearling heifers.

The outcomes of the heifer mating will be recorded, as will their mating performance as two-year-olds.

“Previous trials have shown that genetic differences become more apparent at the two-year mating,” says Jason.

Five new Hereford and five new Angus bulls have entered the Beef Progeny Test this year.

The Informing New Zealand Beef programme is a joint initiative between Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.  It incorporates four areas of work, including the Beef Progeny Test.

The other three are the development of NZ-centric breeding objectives, the development of a data measurement and collection system to collect phenotypic and genotypic data and the use of next generation commercial genomic tools to support stud and commercial operations

Jason says B+LNZ Genetics will use their experience of building a genetic engine for sheep to build a similar engine for beef, combining phenotypic, genotypic and genomic data to calculate breeding values for agreed traits.

Ultimately, under the Beef Programme, B+LNZ Genetics plans to extend nProve genetics systems to include stud cattle. This would give commercial users the ability to quickly and easily source the right genetics for their environment and farm system.

“The final and arguably most important part of the Beef Programme is industry uptake and we will ensure that we are transferring knowledge to commercial farmers and making cutting-edge tools and resources available to the beef industry.”