Simmental Australia will begin trialing the American-based International Genetic Solutions (IGS) system against ABRI's Breedplan to evaluate which database offers the greatest benefit to its breeders.
IGS is the world's largest beef genetic evaluation system and has gained the attention of Australian breed societies for its multi-breed evaluation boasting more than 20 million animals.
The Shorthorn breed made the move across to IGS last year while Speckle Park will make the switch to Performance Beef Breeders NZ.
Simmental Australia president Stuart Moeck said animals would be on both systems within the next six months to understand which one was best for the future growth of the breed.
"We bring animals in that start at zero and it takes a long time to be up to a decent accuracy, especially being one of the smaller breed societies," he said.
"Our ability to use genomics is much further away with the Breedplan situation where IGS have identified markers they can use straight away.
"A lot of our animals have a lot of linkages in that database."
Breedplan and IGS differ in the way data is analysed and presented.
Breedplan predicts an animal's genetic potential for certain traits through estimated breeding values (EBVs) whereas IGS uses expected progeny differences (EPDs) which are reported in imperial measurements and include stayability of daughters in a herd.
When it comes to genomics, IGS uses the Marker Effects Model, which doesn't require all of the genomic information and reportedly only assumes 2000 markers are needed.
Alternatively Breedplan uses the Single-Step model which is widely reviewed and validated by the research community.
IGS can provide evaluations and introduce traits much quicker by using less complex models and smaller subsets of traits while Breedplan developments are open to scrutiny by the MLA, the wider scientific community, and the users.
ABRI Genetics Research and Development manager Dr Brad Crook said with the emergence of alternate international systems it was reasonable and expected that some Australian breeders may look to investigate what these systems offer.
"One important factor to consider is that Breedplan is Australian-owned and has strong ties to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)," he said.
"Most large-scale genetics-based research in the beef industry is at least part funded by MLA, and much of this research funnels into the development of Breedplan.
"Likewise, those breeds engaging with Breedplan will continue to benefit from the ongoing research and development that underpins Breedplan and its associated decision support tools - including but not limited to, industry funded technical support and extension programs.
"The likely alternative is for the breed society to rely on its own funding to undertake the research and extension relevant to its approach in genetic evaluation and develop the associated tools and technologies necessary."
IGS believe in cross breeding and providing the best genetic selection tools to help breeders. One bull in the evaluation had progeny in 13 different breed association databases.
American Simmental Association director of science and education, Jackie Atkins, said IGS was working with several Australian associations and seedstock breeders.
"By entering the IGS genetic evaluation, the Simmental Australia will become a part of this massive database for genetic predictions and will gain information due to the connectivity to other databases with similar bloodlines," she said.
"Again, as there are similar genetics used in American Simmental Association and other breed associations (for instance, the Canadian Simmental Association), all of these connected animals will see improved accuracy of the genetic predictions by adding the Simmental Australia data.
"The IGS collective will also benefit from the Australian Simmental data coming and any breeds with connection to the genetics used in the Australian Simmental database will see a boost in accuracy of the genetic predictions."
Genomic information is available through Breedplan for Herefords, Angus, Brahman and Wagyu with more breeds to be included once they have sufficiently large reference populations and EBVs that would reliably predict progeny performance.
Some Australian breeders, particularly black Simmentals, had already made the switch while others used IGS' EPDs when it came to seedstock selection.
South Australian breeder Tim Cartledge of Lancaster Black Simmentals began using IGS to select cattle from around 2004 and began recording his whole herd from 2011.
The commercial relevance of the progeny test program, which follows commercial animals performance through to processing, and the speed of the data turnaround were draw cards.
"Although we were breeding purebred we were also breeding percentage cattle and introducing Angus cattle into our program," he said.
"We would compare Angus cattle directly on that database.
"It also gave us an idea where Angus were going. They were our main competitor and the marketer we were targeting."
It takes about four weeks for their DNA samples to arrive in Ireland where they are processed and supplied to IGS. The cattle are still recorded with the Australian society.
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