Beef genetics get a rev-up

Multi-breed genetic evaluations focus on commercial producer

Beef
Luke Bowman, IGS and SimGenetics, America, said individual producers, such as Blue-E, have come on board - “you don’t just have to be part of a breed society, you can be an independent breeder and become part of the evaluation."

Luke Bowman, IGS and SimGenetics, America, said individual producers, such as Blue-E, have come on board - “you don’t just have to be part of a breed society, you can be an independent breeder and become part of the evaluation."

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Have breed societies become the biggest problem that the commercial cattleman has ever had to deal with?

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THE world’s largest multi-breed genetic evaluation system is offering commercial producers the tools to ‘look under the hood’ of cattle from different breeds. 

Formed in 2010 by the American Simmental Association and the Red Angus Association of America, International Genetic Solutions (IGS) is a collaboration between progressive breed associations to enhance beef industry profitability. 

It puts the commercial cattleman first by creating an unprecedented multi-breed genetic evaluation and “giving cattleman the most powerful selection tools”. 

Luke Bowman from IGS and SimGenetics, America, recently spoke at the Shaking up the Industry Forum held at Coota Park Blue-E, Woodstock, on December 11. 

“IGS is a group that has come together for the common good of the commerical producer, and for the seedstock producer that wants to sell animals to commercial producers,” he said.  

In fact, IGS exists so producers can read animals across populations and breeds.

“If gentleman A has a Shorthorn and gentleman B has a Simmental, how do you decide which bull to buy?,” he said. 

“They both say they are the best of the best, but how do you know they are what they say they are? Their numbers don’t add up, they are not on the same base, you can’t really compare them. It all comes down to the sales pitch.

“Now because of IGS, by putting all these cattle on the same plane you can compare these bulls.”

Mr Bowman said IGS decided you have to find the best of the best to make the most profit, but breeds today are not what they seem.

“Breeds get on fads and chase things fast. There is as much difference now within breeds as there is across breeds, for example there is as much variation within the Angus breed as there is across all breeds,” he said. 

“Our assumptions of what a breed is, is not necessarily what it should be. When we all have different genetic evaluations, all you can do is go off your assumptions and what you remember – and the data says that isn’t true anymore. We need to be able to compare breeds. 

“We want breeds to stay as they are; there needs to be plenty of Red Angus out there and plenty of purebred or 7/8 Simmental, also Gelbvieh. But we also know to make the commercial man profitable they need to use composites.”

Mr Bowman said there are large data bases that will stay independent and continue to evaluate cattle how they always have, but IGS is progressive in sitting together and saying maybe this breed is better at what you are wanting to do than the other. 

IGS is a collaboration between 13 different breed societies across the world, across three continents.

“About 18 million animals are evaluated every week. In Australia you receive new evaluations every month, we have the ability to do it every week. Some 375,000 new animals are added annually and we have 140,000 genotype tests being turned in to add accuracy to the evaluation,” he said. 

Mr Bowman said individual producers, such as Blue-E, have come on board - “you don’t just have to be part of a breed society, you can be an independent breeder and become part of the evaluation."

“We offer a lot of options for commercial producers,” he said. 

Preaching religion rather than science?

Luke Bowman from International Genetic Solutions (IGS) and SimGenetics, America, last week at the Shaking up the Industry Forum, Woodstock, said that breed societies are the biggest problem that the commercial cattleman has ever had to deal with. 

“I have no problem saying that because of the preaching of religion rather than science,” he said. 

“The argument of ‘my breed is better than yours’ is a real issue that we need to try to overcome.”

Since the establishment of breed societies, the idea was divide and try and dominate the others – collaboration didn’t exist. 

“Breed societies split because of one gene, and now still to this day many of them still don’t want to work together,” he said. 

Producers need to pay attention to the consumer, but as a seedstock producer the commercial cattleman is the biggest goal as they are the ones that buy bulls and pay the bills, Mr Bowman said. 

For breed societies it is there job to pay as much attention to the commercial producers as it is to their membership. 

“For example, the American Simmental Association took out the word Simmental out of their vision statement to make it read – ‘we exist for the profitability for our members customers’, these customers are the commercial producers,” he said. 

“In 1943 it was established that crossbreeding improves profit - the science is in, it is there. If we want to take care of the commercial producer that is producing beef for retail – we better crossbreed, we better make composites."

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