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Genomics tests (DNA tests) provide a number of opportunities for stud breeders and their breed associations;

  • They can be used to test for genetic conditions and also for traits such as increased tenderness or homozygous polled animals.
  • Parent verification to increase the accuracy of the herd book
  • Once a critical number of animals of a breed are tested a genomic test can be used to predict the genetic value of an animal for a wide range of traits such as fertility and carcase traits including marbling and tenderness.

Dr Tommy Perkins, the CEO of the International Brangus Breeders Association recently said, “As leader of an association, I feel like DNA will only become a larger portion of all future genetic progress that is made in the livestock industry. Therefore, I highly recommend breeders to embrace the technology and cut costs other places so they can afford the DNA testing (particularly parent verification)”.

Members of the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) are now doing genomic tests on large numbers of registered Brangus each year (just under 10,000 animals tested in 2017).
The way that genomic results are incorporated into a genetic analysis is through the recently introduced “Single step” analysis which became available in Australia about two years ago and is now used by the Brahman, Angus, Hereford and Wagyu breeds in Australia. IBBA currently have over 17,000 animals with genomically enhanced EPDs.

Genomic test results increase the accuracy of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and the increase in accuracy depends on the initial accuracy of the EBV and the strength of the correlation with the genomic test. Genomic tests are most valuable for low accuracy or hard to measure traits such as female fertility, tenderness and marbling.

However there are no “free lunches”in the the development of useful predictions from genomic tests. A minimum of 3000 and preferably 5000 genomic tests on animals with performance measures are required for the Single Step analysis to work. These can be accumulated over time.

Steps taken by ABCA to introduce Genomic testing for members

  1. ABCA have negotiated with the Neogen Australasia laboratory at Gatton, Qld to provide a customised genomic test for Brangus animals which includes the GGP-50K Density (GGP-50K) genomic test (approximately 40,000SNPs), parentage (where parents have also been tested), a test for horn/poll (homozygous polled) plus the calpastatin and calpain tenderness tests known as the Neogen Brangus Genomic test. The cost is $60 (GST inclusive)
  2. From 1 July 2019 it will be a requirement for all new AI sires and Donor dams to have had a Neogen Brangus Genomic test result recorded with the Association before any progeny can be registered.
  3. It will be a requirement for the sire of all calves born after 1 January 2020 submitted for registration to have a Neogen Brangus Genomic test result recorded with the Association.

What are the advantages to members of these new steps?

  1. Having a genomic profile recorded for AI sires and donor dams will allow members to check the parentage of any future progeny if they have any doubts.
  2. As of 1st January 2020 all current sires are required to have a genomic test result recorded. Members will be able to check the sire of any calves whose sire is in doubt. This would be particularly useful for calves resulting from multiple sired joinings.
  3. The Brangus test will identify animals that are homozygous polled (carry two copies of the polled gene and therefore produce 100 percent polled progeny).
  4. The Brangus test will provide information about whether the animal carries the favourable copies of the calpastatin and calpain tenderness genes.
  5. Once a critical number of animals have been genomically tested and a Single Step genetic analysis is implemented for the Brangus breed genomic tests will be able to be used for prediction of the genetic potential of Brangus animals for important production traits such as fertility and carcase traits

The DNA Tenderness Test

The ratio of the enzymes calpain and calpastatin strongly influence the tenderisation process that occurs when beef is aged after slaughter. A high ratio of calpain to calpastatin enhances the tenderisation during ageing and a low ratio inhibits the tenderisation process.  Bos Indicus cattle have naturally higher levels of calpastatin which inhibits the action of calpain.

Results from the genomic test for tenderness will currently be reported on a 1 to 10 scale. The higher the score the more genetically favourable the animals genes are to be produce tender beef. Data will be collected for Tenderness traits to determine a base line value for Brangus cattle in the future.

Neogen Brangus Genomic Test Bundle

The Neogen Brangus Genomic Test Bundle includes the following tests;

GGP50K SNP
Parent Verification
Horn/Poll Test
Tenderness Test

The ABCA Bundle will cost $60 (incl. GST) and is the recommended test.

Add on's are available for other tests as per the Brangus Australia Genetic Testing Application & Fees Schedule on the website.

The DNA Application & samples are to be sent to the ABCA, C/- ABRI The Short Run, UNE Armidale NSW 2351

If members have any questions or concerns regarding DNA Testing we encourage you to contact Tessa Pearson on 02 6773 3373 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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