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Stackyard News Jan 05
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NBA and Pedigree Breeders Embark on Beef Quality Development Project 24/01/05

The National Beef Association has formed a partnership with the Roslin Institute in Scotland and five cattle breeds to use new genetic tests to identify bulls that will produce calves with tender beef and more marbling.

Tail hair samples from bulls of the Charolais, Limousin, Galloway, Belgian Blue and Stabiliser breeds will be put through the innovative GeneSTAR test pioneered by Genetic Solutions from Australia.

"Access to effective tests that can predict beef tenderness should be a valuable tool for farmers aiming to put better quality beef on higher priced markets," explained NBA policy advisor, Kim-Marie Haywood.

"After the samples are analysed, the farmer is given the GeneSTAR ratings for the tenderness and marbling potential of their animals and these will help to maximise breed performance through selective matings - as well as make it easier to develop new market opportunities for quality cattle."

Professor John Woolliams from the Roslin Institute is responsible for the analysis and will provide breed specific guidance to the individual societies which will help them with their improvement schemes and then use the test results from Genetic Solutions to best advantage.

The project will be co-ordinated by the NBA's Pedigree Committee and Genesis Faraday which has funded the project through its SPARK award grant system which encourages collaboration on genetic and genomic research between specialist scientists and those involved with applied livestock breeding.

Estimates of the allele (genetic) frequencies promoting beef quality in the participating beef breeds will provide a framework for future research using GeneSTAR testing.

"The NBA is in a unique position to push forward the post-CAP reform interests of pedigree cattle breeders by taking the coordinators role in this type of market focused project," said Ms Haywood.

"The results will be circulated at the end of May and we are looking forward to setting up more partnerships that will take help beef farmers take advantage of the latest breeding technology available to the industry."

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