DNA information can also be used in genetic evaluations. This is often referred to as genomic selection by industry.

BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation

In recent years, some BREEDPLAN analyses have undergone significant development to allow the use of DNA information in their evaluations. This is known as Single-Step BREEDPLAN. Australian breeds that are currently using DNA information in their BREEDPLAN analyses (as of December 2023) include:

Breed

Released

Brahman

April 2017

Hereford

October 2017

Angus

December 2017

Wagyu

April 2018

Santa Gertrudis

March 2021

Speckle Park

July 2023

Simmental

September 2023

Droughtmaster

October 2023

Brangus

November 2023

Limousin

November 2023

A number of other breed societies are working towards incorporating DNA information into their BREEDPLAN analyses in the future. The release of new Single-Step BREEDPLAN analyses will be announced via the BREEDPLAN website.

Implementation of Single-Step BREEDPLAN analyses requires a critical mass of animals with both DNA (genotypes) and performance information (phenotypes). Animals with both DNA and performance information are referred to as a reference population.

Many industry-funded projects have contributed to the large-scale collection of both DNA and performance information. These include the Repronomics project and the Southern Multi Breed project. Breed societies and individual producers have also been involved in the collection of DNA and performance information. Any breeder submitting both genotypes and phenotypes to Single-Step BREEDPLAN are part of the reference population. Their data will help to drive the accuracy of their breed’s genetic evaluation.

DNA is an additional source of information for the BREEDPLAN analysis to use. It does not replace the need for the collection of performance information. Instead, in Single-Step BREEDPLAN analyses, EBVs are calculated from pedigree information, performance information (collected on both the animal and its relatives) and DNA information. The addition of DNA information increases the accuracy of the BREEDPLAN analysis and is particularly informative for traits that are:

  • Difficult and/or expensive to measure (e.g. feed efficiency)
  • Recorded later in an animal’s life (e.g. fertility)
  • Recorded in one sex (e.g. mature cow weight)
  • Recorded once the animal is dead (e.g. abattoir carcase traits)

The increase in EBV accuracy once genomic information is included in BREEDPLAN EBVs is not uniform across animals. In general, animals with lower starting EBV accuracies experience a greater lift in EBV accuracy compared to animals with higher starting EBV accuracies.

Overall, the inclusion of DNA information in BREEDPLAN analyses allows beef producers to make more informed decisions on animals at a younger age, which reduces generation interval and increases rate of improvement (Module 1).