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Tropical Beef Technology Services

Tropical Beef Technology Services (TBTS) is a joint initiative between Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and nine tropical Breed Societies. The TBTS project began in August 1997 after it was recognised that the level of BREEDPLAN performance recording in tropical seedstock herds was at a far lower rate compared to their British and European breed counterparts. The following information relates to the 4th term of the TBTS project which ran from July 2008 to August 2011.

It has long been acknowledged that genetic progress in beef cattle is slow due to long generation intervals and, in many cases, low selection intensity on traits of economic importance.  However, genetic progress is cumulative and can be maintained at modest annual costs. The TBTS project has assisted many seedstock herds, and animals within  those herds, to be involved in Australia’s national genetic evaluation program, BREEDPLAN TBTS has played an important role in extending a range of messages relating to beef genetics and selection to the northern beef industry. Technical support and communication activities over the term of the project included a biannual SBTS & TBTS Update newsletter, two webinar courses involving over 1000 seedstock producers across Australia, 20 workshops/field days with an estimated audience of 601 producers and 51 on property consultations with seedstock herds in northern Australia.

The TBTS project has contributed to there being a significant number of animals within seedstock herds, and bulls available to commercial industry, having accurately described genetics. This is through published BREEDPLAN EBVs for a range of traits and Selection Indexes. While the number of BREEDPLAN herds and percentage of animals with at least one post-birth weight recorded for genetic analysis purposes has plateaued, the percentage of animals being recorded for other traits of economic importance such as fertility, carcase and temperament has significantly increased.

The number of herds submitting joining records for the female fertility analysis (Days to Calving) has doubled from 15 to 30, the percentage of calves with a 200 day weight recorded that also have a scrotal circumference and/or live animal ultrasound scan for carcase traits increased to 46% (males only) and 24% respectively. There is regular collection and submission of flight time records as an indicator of temperament and tenderness for 3 breeds, and the number of breeds with at least one Selection Index published has increased from 2 to 4.    

Combining the Selection Index genetic trends of Brahman and Santa Gertrudis provides an estimate of the overall average rate of genetic progress (in $ terms) currently being made in the Northern Beef industry.  Using this combining method, the average rate of genetic progress has increased by 66% when comparing the 2001 to 2005 calving years with the 2005 to 2009 calving years. That is,  $0.67/per cow mated/year between the 2001 to 2005 calving years compared to $1.11/per cow mated/year between the 2005 to 2009 calving years.  

The improvement in profitability via genetics is most effectively estimated using the combined Brahman and Santa Gertrudis Selection Index trends. The net dollar ($) gain to the northern beef industry via Brahman and Santa Gertrudis genetic improvement (over the term of this project) is conservatively estimated to be $4.5 million per year.

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581.8KB 12/10/2011

This page was last updated on 21/07/2017

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