Genetic Tools Back Profitable Goals

The Munros are using genetic tools to help back profitable goals.

Key points:

  • The Munros use Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) from the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation (TACE) genetic evaluation system to rank their herd genetically.
  • BreedObject $ABI (Angus Breeding Index), was developed to identify animals that will improve overall profitability in commercial grass and grain-finishing beef production systems.
  • Through using TACE EBVs, the Munros have made impressive genetic gains in profitability.

Adaptable, calm and resilient cattle are the goal for the Munro family of Booroomooka Angus on NSW’s Northern Tablelands – and genetic tools are the key.

Booroomooka is one of the largest established Angus studs in Australia and the Munros pride themselves on their innovative approach. The stud was founded by Gordon Munro from ‘Keera, Bingara, NSW 1926 and principal Sinclair Munro is the fifth generation to manage the property.

Meeting the market

Sinclair said Booroomooka Angus aims to offer their customers animals which can thrive in the paddock, while also producing offspring which can meet the growth and carcase specifications for chosen markets. Their genetic goals are to increase the long-term profitability of Booroomooka genetics along the supply chain.

“We aim to continue to improve meat quality while improving on-farm profitability traits. We’ve made big gains in reducing age to turnoff and increased eating quality,” he said.

The Munros use Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) from the TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation (TACE) genetic evaluation system to rank the herd genetically, then choose sires with acceptable traits for their environment and to ensure adequate genetic diversity.

The breeding program uses the BreedObject $ABI (Angus Breeding Index), which was developed to identify animals which will improve overall profitability in commercial grass and grain-finishing beef production system.

$ABI estimates the genetic differences between animals in net profitability per cow joined in a typical commercial self-replacing herd using Angus bulls, and is measured in profit per cow joined.

While traits such as docility and structure are not currently included in this index, they’re also carefully considered with threshold set.

To be successful, Sinclair believes there are some non-negotiables in certain traits. These include the extremes of high birth weights that cause calving difficulties, poor temperament (docility), bad structure and cattle with a poor constitution.

Targeting docility

Against the backdrop of a reduced workforce and heightened occupational health and safety expectations, it’s become more important to have animals which are safe and easy to handle.

A docile temperament is also a strong contributor to an animal’s welfare and performance.

Sinclair said Booroomooka has demonstrated a consistent commitment to the development of a reliable EBV for docility over many years.

“We were involved in early innovative research into measuring the docility trait by flight time and crush score,” he said. “Since 2005, we’ve collected around 13,000 docility scores. With all the data and genomics collected, we now have access to genomically enhanced TACE EBVs.”

By collecting docility data in their herd and using TACE EBVs, Booroomooka has made some impressive genetic gains to profitability. Since 2024 in the Booroomooka herd, $ABI has increased from $144 to $220; 600 day-growth has increased from +84 to +125; and birth weight has dropped from +4.1 to +3.8. In that time, docility has improved slightly from +17 to +23, and structure has also improved.

Future focus areas

Sinclair believes climatic variability, antibiotic resistance and concerns about environmental sustainability will all fuel the need to breed more resilient cattle in the future. Increased land values are pushing breeding herds into more marginal areas. In response, Booroomooka has been involved in research relating to body composition and its relationship to fertility.

“Essentially cows will need to maintain enough condition, so their fertility does not drop with seasonal fluctuations. We need to produce cows that can utilise low-quality grasses and store energy, so they remain fertile in poor seasons,” he said.

“We’re passionate about further improving maternal productivity. This is a real profit drier and will improve the sustainability of beef production.”

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