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Promoting the commercial benefits of the Limousin breed, backed up with genomic testing to improve bull selection accuracy, is the new focus of the Australian Limousin Breeders Society.
Passionate about the breed's attributes, which include fast growth rates, high yielding carcases and calving ease, the current Limousin society's board has introduced a range of innovative programs designed to benefit commercial producers.
Australian Limousin Breeders Society senior vice president Jason Schulz said a complete overhaul of the strategic plan had been carried out to better reflect the current beef industry outlook and the future direction of the breed.
"We would like Limousins to be the European breed of choice for use in crossbreeding operations," he said.
"Weight gain and their high-yielding carcase capabilities are clearly the breed's biggest advantage, but they also have an edge over other European cattle for calving ease and most of the bulls sold in Australia now are polled.
"Limousin-cross steers and heifers consistently achieve dressing percentages of 58 to 63 per cent compared to an average of 53-58pc."
He said University of Adelaide research shows the unique Limousin muscling gene can produce 19pc more in high value cuts, 8pc more in the yield of retail cuts and a boost of 8-11pc in tenderness.
Mr Schulz said the society is working towards single step genomic testing, which requires a certain level of genetic input from breeders.
"One of the best tools you have in bull selection in the industry across all breeds is Breedplan and the use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to help commercial producers select bulls that suit their specific objectives," he said.
"We are working with Neogen to provide affordable DNA services to our breeders so the genetic information on their herds can go into the EBVs profile which currently exists for Limousins. But there is a certain threshold we need to reach before the information can be validated and the EBV accuracies improved and the board is working very strongly to get to this point."
There is also a range of research and development projects run by breeders, including progeny analysis trials, which are strongly supported by the board.
Mr Schulz is keen to investigate the maternal benefits of the breed and is encouraging commercial producers to consider the advantages of Limousin-cross cows.
"Limousin-cross females are resilient and versatile and the challenge for our society is to gather some practical information on the advantages of Limousin-cross cows compared with pure British-bred cows.
"We are trying to capture as much information as possible to help people make better-informed breeding decisions and couple this together with member workshops and conferences that encompass the commercial sector."
Progessive Limousin breeders Hayden and Jasmine Green, Summit Livestock, Uranquinty, NSW, have introduced DNA parentage and genomic testing to provide more accurate, objective information on their herd's performance.
"We are trying to employ any technologies available so we can be more accurate with the information we provide to our clients to assist with their breeding decisions," Mr Green said.
This year, Summit Livestock held its first Power and Performance bull sale in partnership with Starrs Limousin, Thuddungra, NSW. The combined sale featured 30 polled bulls that had been performance tested.
The bulls were run together as yearlings and fed for 90 days with their average daily weight gain analysed.
Ultrasound scanning was also carried out to provide detailed information on rib and rump fat, intramuscular fat, eye muscle area and scrotal measurements.
"We'll continue to raise both our spring and autumn bulls together as it gives us a larger contemporary group and provides more genetic spread for comparison."
Together with several of their commercial clients, the pair also ran a progeny analysis test of the feedlot and carcase performance of 350 Limousin-cross steers.
Sired by Summit Livestock bulls, the steers were fed for 90 days at Associated Feedlots at Mathoura, NSW, before being marketed through Coles.
"We collected a range of feedlot performance and carcase data and also took hair samples for DNA testing which allowed us to parent-verify the actual bull each steer was by.
"Then we can correlate all the carcase performance data to a specific sire. This information will allow us to make better breeding and selection decisions."
As part of its efforts to become more commercially relevant, the Australian Limousin Breeders Society will host a two-day conference on May 24 and 25 in Armidale, NSW.
Titled Capitalise on Carcase, From Conception to Consumer, the conference is open to all beef producers and industry stakeholders.
Topics include breeding and selection for carcase quality and improving female fertility.
This is advertiser content for Limousin Breeders Society.