‘Genomics will revolutionise animal breeding’ – Neser

Brahman breeders would be the first of the Bos indicus breed societies to commission an international genetic evaluation project, Dr Michael Bradfield of Breedplan said at a recent genetic and genomics discussion.

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Delegates raised concerns about standardisation, as such a project could mean farmers in some countries have to change their scoring systems, but Dr Mike MacNeil of the US who acts as a consultant to the ARC said that if this was a real problem to breeders the values could be centrally standardised.

“Genomics will revolutionise animal breeding,” said Prof Frikkie Neser, an animal scientist who specialises in breeding and genetics at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. “Genetic markers are not a replacement for estimated breeding values (EBVs) and good genetics will never overcome poor management.”

Neser said much could be learnt from the dairy industry about standardising trait values and achieving genetic gains, and advised breeders to change their breeding selection goals if current goals were not in line with market demand.

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Delegates agreed after some discussion that those who paid for genotyping owned the information but that, for the breed to improve, a flexible approach was necessary. Also, genotyping costs for bulls could be reduced by sharing the genotypes of animals commonly used between the four countries who would open their databases to each other.

Mecki Schneider, chairperson of the Brahman Breed Improvement Forum, said it was encouraging to see positive interaction between farmers and scientists No field was without its difficulties, he added, but progress and meaningful collaboration made good partners.