We are now in the fourth year of the Beef Data & Genomics Programme (BDGP) and many farmers are currently returning their 2018 tissue samples. One of the requirements of the BDGP is for participants to genotype the equivalent to 60% of their reference number in each year of the programme. Some farmers are asking why they are receiving tissue tags for commercial males when they feel that getting these animals genotyped is of little or no value to them. There are a number of reasons for this:
- There are no more females left to genotype in the herd – When selecting animals for genotyping, ICBF prioritises animals based on pedigree status, sex and age. Commercial males are the lowest priority animal and will only be selected for genotyping where no other animals are available.
- Genotyping males is of value – These commercial males will eventually go on to be slaughtered and their carcass data will enter the ICBF database. Having both genomic and phenotypic data on these animals helps to improve genomic predictions on important traits such as calving difficulty and carcass weight.
- Farmers are being paid to genotype these animals – The payments made to farmers through the BDGP are based on costs incurred and/or income foregone. In other words, farmers are being paid for the labour required to genotype these animals. Reducing the number of animals to be sampled, where insufficient females are available, would simply mean a reduction in the overall payment to the farmer.
Commercial males are the lowest priority for genotyping as part of the BDGP and are only selected when no other animals are available to be done. Although sampling them may seem like a futile exercise, genomic data on these animals is of great value to genetic evaluations.