Forty Marcus Oldham College students got some hands-on education about beef cattle genetics and performance data when they recently visited the Te Mania Angus headquarters in Mortlake.
The first year Farm Management students who have been studying genetics this semester with lecturer Matt Robertson, visited the Mortlake property to learn how we collect our performance data, how contemporary groups operate and the benefits to the breeding program.
They were also very focused on the technology we use and the place of genomics and quantitative analysis in the TMA program.
Some key points Director Tom Gubbins took the student through were:
- Livestock genetics is economics.
- How to collect good economic data (phenotype).
- Crunch into genotype (expressed as EBVs).
- Using EBVs to make better breeding decisions and achieve economic improvement.
- Large mobs/contemporary groups.
At Te Mania Angus our cows are run in large mobs of as many as 600, to better test genetic merit.
Young animals, including the bulls, are also run in large contemporary groups, from birth to 400 days of age, to reflect the commercial conditions into which the genetics invariably end up, and to provide more accurate performance data. Any variation in recorded traits in these large contemporary groups is more likely to be due to genetic variation, rather than environment.
There was also an entertaining discussion about methane yield and methane intensity, net feed intake and age of puberty data collection with the collars on the heifers – one of the cutting-edge programs being run at Te Mania Angus.