Repronomics Field Day – Rockley’s Take-Home Messages

Repronomics Field Day – Rockley’s Take-Home Messages

At Rockley we know that ongoing education is essential for the success of any business, so we regularly attend field days that will benefit both Rockley Brahmans and our clients. At a recent field day, we learned more about the Repronomics [1] project. Here’s a summary of take-home messagesplans for implementation and expected benefits for our clients.

Brian Pastures Field Day:

I attended a by-invitation field day at Brian Pastures (Gayndah, Queensland), held for breeders with genetics represented in the Repronomics project. This five-year project, funded by the MLA, aims to ‘rapidly increase the accuracy of genetically describing the reproductive merit of tropically adapted beef cattle’ [2] – including Brahmans. The day provided a valuable update on project activities and findings as well as a wonderful opportunity to view some of the cattle involved.

Take-Home 1: You can’t improve what you don’t measure

We are committed to measuring performance data and continue to monitor additional traits to advance our herd recording. I have written before about Rockley’s use of Breedplan and EBV’s to help us produce more profitable high-performance cattle. We now plan to measure the scrotal circumference of our 12-month-old bulls and conduct a Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation at 600 days to help identify the most fertile bulls at a young age. Here’s how BREEDPLAN benefits our customers:

  • Using EBVs allows us to set objective breeding targets for specific traits.
  • We can measure our progress towards them with greater confidence.
  • With clear goals and reviews to guide us, our processes become more efficient.
  • This all means we can respond directly, more quickly and more accurately to our clients’ feedback.
Take-Home 2: Avoid single trait bull selection

Single trait selection can be dangerous. We’ve noticed a trend in current sires where a focus on high growth traits appears to be detrimental to fertility, which can measured by days to calving (DTC) and scrotal size (SS). Our conclusion is that modern, heavily used sires may not be the best choice for Rockley. Instead, our aim is to use sires with linkages to BREEDPLAN, so EBV’s will now influence a higher percentage of our bull selection. Thanks to lots of experience, I am increasingly confident in correlating BREEDPLAN data with visual assessments. Our customers can be confident that we always aim to select bulls whose progeny will meet or exceed their requirements.

Chris and I would like to say ‘thank you’ once again to the hosts of this field day. It is always enjoyable to catch up with industry colleagues, especially when this involves opportunities to learn and then to review and improve our own practices. This helps us to gain further expertise and depth as a business, and enables us to continue to provide the best possible product for our customers.

Other field day topics: project aims, design and progress; current numbers, sires used and progeny counts; description of the traits recorded and some early results; an update on the steer progeny BIN project; displays of Brahman, Droughtmaster and Stella Gertrudis project cattle; live ultrasound scanning demonstrations; Q&A sessions with project scientists and staff; and an opportunity to provide input on future directions of the project

For further information and to discuss this or other topics, please contact me (Ashley) on 0408 780 810.

Related PostsGenetics Technology Field Day – What Did We Learn?

References: [1] ‘Repronomics – enabling genetic improvement in tropically adapted beef breeds’ by Beef Central, 23 August 2016

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