The first-generation of heifers bred by the Southern Multi Breed project are just days away from calving, with 521 expected to calve beginning in mid-July.
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the project, jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Government, continues to play a vital role in researching genetic progress in the beef industry.
"The ultimate aim of this project is to compare estimated breeding values across our country's most popular breeds for graziers, so this milestone is significant and will provide us with incredibly valuable information," Mr Saunders said.
"Through this program, we are helping the livestock sector make better genetic decisions that will ultimately help support the productivity within their business.
"I am thrilled the NSW Government can support vital genetic research programs like these that are so important for the industry.
"We already know the beef industry in NSW is world-class, but this program will strengthen it even further."
Department of Primary Industries (DPI) project leader Dr Kath Donoghue said the arrival of the calves in July marks a significant milestone for the project.
"It will allow researchers to measure the first re-breed interval or the lactational anoestrus interval in temperate breeds for the first time," Dr Donoghue said.
"Achieving high conception rates in first-calvers is often challenging, as these females are lactating and still growing while trying to conceive for the second time."
Dr Donoghue said ovarian scans will be conducted on a monthly basis in order to identify when these females commence cycling after calving.
"The first re-breed or lactation anoestrus is then able to be calculated, allowing the identification of females who recommence cycling earlier post-calving," Dr Donoghue said.
"Relationships between lactation anoestrus and fertility traits, such as days to calving and heifer puberty, will be investigated, along with relationships with production traits, such as growth, feed efficiency and carcass traits."
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Data gathered from both cows and calves during the project will assist with the long-term goal of collating a valuable data resource that includes hard-to-measure traits of economic importance on the Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn, Wagyu, Charolais, and Brahman breeds.
New traits will also be recorded throughout the life of the project to provide foundation data for development and potential inclusion in Breedplan of new estimated breeding values (EBVs) for a wider range of traits that impact commercial profitability.
"As a result of this intensive, precise recording of new, existing, and hard-to-measure traits, seedstock and commercial bull buyers will have access to EBVs with more accuracy for describing the genetic merit of individual animals," Dr Donoghue said.
"The development of a multi-breed evaluation from this foundation data means commercial producers looking to buy bulls will ultimately be able to select the right bull for their operation, irrespective of whether an animal is Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn, Wagyu, Charolais or Brahman."
The $7.3 million-dollar project is co-funded by NSW DPI, UNE, MLA and the Commonwealth Government through the MLA Donor Company (MDC).
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