Herefords Australia Progeny Test Project
The Herefords Australia Progeny Test Project is a large scale sire progeny testing project for Hereford cattle. The Progeny Test Project is conducted by Herefords Australia with funding assistance from the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company under the Beef Information Nucleus (BIN) program.
Within the Progeny Test Project, 10-15 young Hereford bulls of high genetic merit are progeny tested each year in co-operator herds located across southern Australia, ranging from the south-east of South Australia to South Western Queensland. Females within each co-operator herd are joined to progeny test bulls using artificial insemination and the resultant progeny comprehensively performance recorded for a range of growth, carcase (including meat quality) and fertility traits.
Performance data is collected for birth weight, calving difficulty scores, gestation length, 200, 400 and 600 day weights (the latter from heifers only), structure soundness assessment, docility scores and net feed intake (from a portion of steers only). All steers and heifers are scanned for rib & rump fat, EMA and IMF and full MSA chiller assessment data is collected on all steer carcasses. Meat samples from all carcasses are analysed by the UNE Meat Science Lab for tenderness, IMF, cooking loss and meat colour, while tail hairs and blood samples are collected on all progeny as a source of DNA information for future development and validation of genomic based technologies. All calves are DNA sire verified by the Animal Genetics Lab at the University of Queensland.
The project provides breeders of Hereford cattle in Australia with a unique opportunity to benchmark their prospective elite sires in a structured progeny test program and aims to identify new generation sires that will improve the carcase and meat quality traits of the Hereford breed without compromising production and fertility traits in subsequent generations. The project also provides the means to validate Hereford BREEDPLAN EBVs, particularly those relating to carcase traits for which very little phenotypic data has been collected.
All performance data that is collected within the progeny test project is stored on the Herefords Australia database and analysed within the TransTasman Hereford BREEDPLAN evaluation.