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Genetics & genomics

Overview

MLA’s investment in livestock genetics research and development (R&D) aims to improve the rate of genetic progress in the beef cattle and sheep industries to permanently improve on-farm productivity and animal health and contribute towards meeting consumer demands.

The National Livestock Genetics Consortium, developed in partnership with MLA, aims to double the annual rate of improvement in industry genetic value by 2022. Improving animal production and health and performance through genetic management helps to create a sustainable, high performing industry at an overall lower cost to producers.

Despite the inextricable link between genetics and profitability, a significant opportunity exists to increase the uptake and adoption of genetic evaluation services, particularly by commercial producers.

Core activities

Genetic evaluation services include BREEDPLAN for the beef industry, LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT for the sheep industry and KIDPLAN for the goat industry.

Specifically, R&D investments address:

  • key profit drivers such as market specification compliance
  • cost of production
  • growth rates and fertility
  • reference populations
  • genetic software and tools
  • new DNA technologies and methods
  • commercial utilisation and adoption of genetic tools
  • assessing sustainability and welfare traits
  • improving technologies for collecting performance traits
  • linking genetics to red meat products.

Benefits to industry

  • Increasing the annual rate of genetic gain in the livestock industry improves the profitability of the industry by better meeting the needs of consumers and participants across the value chain.
  • The ability to breed livestock that are more compliant to market requirements improves the overall profitability of the Australian red meat industry.
  • Improved reproduction breeding values and increased genetic gain significantly improves the productivity of Australia’s red meat industry by producing livestock that have a more efficient feed ratio, increased reproductive capacity and decreased susceptibility to congenital disease.