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Planning session and decisions taken by industry role players, held on 7 August 2018, at Sernick History was made when parties involved with the accurate recording and correct application of feed intake for beef cattle assembled on 7 August 2018.

The Sernick Group hosted the event on the farm Liebenbergstroom, Edenville.

The initiative came from Stud Book’s Logix Forum with the aim of giving prominence to this extremely important aspect of recording and genetic improvement in Beef Cattle.

Second only to the application of genomic information to enhance genetic merit prediction, the measurement and evaluation of animals for production efficiency is currently the leading aspect in the breeding of livestock. The technological advances in the measurement of individual feed intake enable progressive breeders to take the lead by establishing their own facilities to make such measurements and recordings possible. This was already realised by Sernick when an own facility, to make such measurements possible, was established in 1990. Similar privately-owned facilities followed suit.

Feed efficiency genetic breeding values are made available by SA Stud Book for breeds with adequate numbers of recorded animals. This enables such breeds to include the information in their breeding objectives, therefore contributing towards the efficiency in the value chain. The number of recordings has been the biggest restriction in the past. Progressive breeders realised this and are currently investing in the necessary facilities to address this void.

SA Stud Book’s recording and improvement services conform with ICAR’s (International Committee for Animal Recording) international standards. It is therefore also important to draft guidelines for recording and calculations of the traits and properties associated with feed efficiency.

The planning and discussion session gave the opportunity to address the following:

  • Accreditation/Certification of Centres to conform with international standards.
  • Phenotypic calculations versus BLUP breeding values and the inclusion of genomic information in breeding value predictions.
  • Application of performance branding of breeding animals that were subjected to the recording of their feed intake.
  • Guidelines, Weight limits, Age limits, allowance of Bulls in intake tests, Applications and test dates at Centres.
  • Ownership of Data and Information.
  • Processing and preparation of animals eligible for testing and recording.
  • Feeding and treatment regimes.
  • Automatization of feeding systems and data transfer to computers.
  • Linkage, calculations and recording on Logix using farm software.

Present at the event were the SA Stud Book personnel responsible for the measurement and recording of beef cattle as well as their genetic evaluations, representatives of eight of the nine active privately owned test centres, breeders considering the erection of such centres, representatives of two Beef Cattle Breeders’ Societies, a representative from the ARC, representatives from Animal Feed Companies supplying feed for test centres and representatives from the manufacturers of intake measuring equipment.

South Africa has been on the forefront of recording of beef cattle and especially feed intake. Locally, centres were originally established at Irene, Vryburg and Queenstown. Soon afterwards centres were also put in operation at Cedara, Glen and later at Elsenburg.

Progressive breeders now reap the benefit of continuous participation in intake recordings and their application in effective selection programs. This wave of private initiative is the dawn of a new era. Stud Book’s new service to South African beef producers that include genomic information in genetic merit prediction (to enhance the accuracy of breeding values) dovetails with the feed intake recordings revolution.

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