In this e-news I wanted to share with you some of the progress the Herefords Australia board and staff have made in the past few months.
The industry issue that has occupied much of our time is BREEDPLAN. We understand that not all members use it, but most do, and since the introduction of genomics there have been questions about the impact genomics has on estimated breeding values (EBVs) and what genetic progress has been made.
The board has had several meetings with AGBU and ABRI (who together deliver BREEDPLAN) and I can report the following:
- Over the last five years, EBV accuracy has improved on those traits where there was low accuracy to begin with
- Genetic gain has been seen across all traits, with the estimated financial benefit of these similar to what has been seen across other breeds
- Data quality is good, but there are gaps with some of the key carcase traits
- There has been a detailed investigation into shifts in the birthweight EBV – where there is already a high accuracy reported – after the inclusion of genomics
- While still underway, there are genotypes that suggest there may be an increased chance of passing on a higher ‘dosage’ of birth weight which may increase markers to some progeny, beyond bull’s own phenotype. This is emerging work and the subject of further research, with more information to come
We know that collectively, members invest heavily in genotyping and BREEDPLAN and want to be confident in the EBVs produced. And I want to reiterate that the board has and will continue to advocate on your behalf and continue to work with AGBU and ABRI to find answers to your questions.
I’m pleased to report that an outcome from a recent meeting was agreement from ABRI to progress the development of new, commercially relevant Selection Indexes and this work will commence early 2023. We will share more information with you on BREEDPLAN initiatives over the coming months.
In other updates, I can report that Herefords Australia was able to negotiate a pause on DNA price increases in 2022. Staff are currently working with our supplier to look at options for an economy bundle or how bundles can deliver more value for members. This is an item the board aims to resolve by the end of the year.
Development of new and future income streams is one goal in the Herefords Australia Strategic Plan. In the last quarter the board has identified new sources of income and undertaken several meetings with a prospective client. The concept would see the company leverage existing capabilities with a pilot likely to be the next step. There is still quite a bit of work to do, and we will keep members informed as it progresses.
Through the various committees of the board, an annual review of strategic, operating, financial and reputational risk was completed. All the risk controls have been reviewed and action plans put in place where a new risk was identified or changed. For example, in the current economic climate the performance of the investment portfolio is one that is very closely managed by our Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. The Technical Committee has reviewed the Super Sires program and this month will put to the board several amendments for final approval. The Wodonga Vendor Committee has completed its review of the successful 2022 event and is now full steam ahead with planning for 2023.
Not only do the committees provide valuable insights that inform company policies and programs, but in the case of show and sale or youth committees, also design and deliver large events. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members who volunteer their time and support. I look forward to providing another update on the activities of the board in the Summer magazine edition.