Informing New Zealand Beef extension activities in full swing

// Breeding and Genetics

An online Beef Breeder forum to be held next week is part of the Informing New Zealand Beef programme’s recent extension activities aimed at both stud and commercial beef breeders.

image of Hereford bull

The Beef Breeder forum, which is being held from 7pm-8.30pm on Wednesday 4 May, is aimed specifically at stud breeders and will focus on maternal productivity and reproduction. It will feature a presentation from Professor Wayne Pitchford, Professor in Animal Science at University of Adelaide and previously the project lead for Maternal Productivity within the Australian Beef Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

Professor Pitchford’s primary interest has been in genetics and genomics and his focus has been on maternal productivity, feed efficiency, carcass and meat quality. He will presenting the latest outcomes from Australian research.

He will be joined by Dr Jason Archer, B+LNZs Genetic Specialist – Livestock and Science Lead for the Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme who will discuss recent findings from the B+LNZ Genetics Beef Progeny Test and future research priorities.

These presentations will be followed by an interactive question and answer session with both Jason and Professor Pitchford.

The Beef Breeder Forum follows on from a successful on-line Better Beef Breeding two-part workshop aimed at increasing the understanding of genetic information amongst commercial breeders. It was designed to give these breeders the confidence to make better use of genetic information in their beef herds to increase productivity and profitability.

Anna Boyd, B+LNZ’s Beef Genetics Specialist, had the challenge of distilling what is normally a four-hour face-to-face workshop into two one-hour online interactive workshops held one week apart.

This workshop package, which was run by Anna and Jason, covered the importance of setting breeding objectives for commercial cow herds, finding an aligned stud breeder, understanding the information presented in a bull catalogue and making use of tools such as Estimated Breeding Values and Indexes to find the best genetics for specific requirements.  It also covered structural assessment and other things to note when purchasing beef bulls – such as fertility testing.

Anna says around 30 people attended the two-part workshop and feedback from attendees had been overwhelmingly positive.

“Farmers commented on how it made them think about EBVs and Indexes from a wider perspective, rather than just quickly going through bull catalogues prior to the sale.”

“Those that attended the workshops said they will start identifying the right bulls that align with their breeding goals based on these values before the sales, so as to determine the best bull to purchase before looking at them.”

One farmer commented that the workshop had given him more tools to make a better bull selection and purchase decision.

“He really liked how practical and straight forward the content was and that everything we covered was applicable to his operation.”

These extension activities are a critical part of the Informing New Zealand Beef programme which is a seven-year Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) partnership supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and B+LNZ. It aims to boost the sector’s profits by $460m over the next 25 years.

The five main components of the programme are building a genetic evaluation and data infrastructure, progeny test herds, developing breeding objectives and indexes, developing new data sources and supporting farmer uptake of new genetic information.

For more information

Visit the Informing New Zealand Beef programme webpage.