Farmers affected by the drought and COVID-19 can take some heart from the latest forecast for sheep and beef exports for the 2019/20 season.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) Genetics and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) say they will spend $5.2 million over three years on joint beef research projects. All the projects, here and in Australia, will be overseen by BLNZ Genetics.
General manager Graham Alder says the collaboration means every $1 of NZ farmer levy turns into $3.50 of research funding.
“The R&D needs of NZ and Australian producers are well aligned. It makes sense for scientists on both sides of the Tasman to work together to solve common problems.
“Beef genetics research in NZ has been under-funded for 30 years.
This partnership means research can progress and the results communicated to breeders and commercial farmers many years earlier.
For Australia, it means faster progress and an opportunity to advance projects that otherwise may not have gone ahead.”
The work will centre on the Trans-Tasman beef cow profitability programme, which aims to balance desirable maternal traits in beef cows with the finishing performance of calves and their ability to meet quality carcase specifications.
The programme will develop genetic measures for better describing the important physical attributes of a cow (size, body condition and her ability handle fluctuations in feed availability), fertility indicators in heifers and selection tools for easy decisionmaking. It will also investigate how different environments and farm systems in both countries impact on the balance of traits required to produce an economically efficient cow.
Adler says this research will also help underpin advancements in genomic technology.
The research will draw on existing projects in commercial farm settings. In NZ, BLNZ Genetics’ beef progeny test and maternal cow project will feed into the research. In Australia, inclusion of the Angus sire benchmarking programme and Hereford progeny test are being considered by the respective breed associations, with solid initial interest.
The programme began with a joint meeting of Australian and New Zealand beef breeders, farmers and science providers on November 14-15 in Albury-Wodonga.
In Australia, the University of Adelaide (prof. Wayne Pitchford) and the University of New England’s animal genetics and breeding unit (Dr Robert Banks and Dr Matt Wolcott).
In New Zealand, AbacusBio (Dr Jason Archer) and Massey University (prof. Dorian Garrick). Commercial beef farmers and bull breeders will also be heavily involved, along with Angus NZ and the NZ Hereford Association.