Helping farmers breed better livestock

We’re helping farmers to breed better livestock animals to boost the value, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s livestock industries.

The Challenge

Improving the herd to improve the product

Production from Australia’s livestock industries is valued over $23 billion with over $11billion in exports in 2013-14. The success and efficiency of Australia’s livestock industries are built upon the quality and performance of their animals.

We’re aiming to genetically improve fertility in certain breeds of cattle so that they raise more calves during their lifetime.

Livestock quality impacts upon the productivity, meat quality and reproductive quality of the animal and as such farmers are continually striving to improve their herds. Additionally the interaction between genetics, environment and management practice is a key determinant of the productivity, sustainability and profitability of livestock enterprises.

Our Response

Premium breeds for premium product

We’re helping farmers improve future generations of their livestock, hence improving farm sustainability and productivity and the quality of livestock products such as meat and wool.

Domestic sheep common to farms around Australia have come along way from their wild relatives and ancestors.

Building upon our extensive global leadership in understanding the genomes of cattle and sheep, we increase the rate and capture of genetic improvement in key economic and functional livestock traits.

For example, in beef production we are developing DNA-based methods that will allow producers to select breeding cattle whose offspring are more likely to have favourable characteristics such as high fertility or lack of horns.

We also develop new means to measure valuable traits in livestock, particularly those traits that are either difficult to measure or are currently not measured.  This capability, known as phenotyping, will underpin future livestock breeding and precision management enabling industry to fully benefit from the animal genetics revolution.

These traits are central to the productivity and fitness of the animal and include feed intake, methane emissions and efficiency at pasture, disease resistance, adaptation and reproduction.

Case study

  • Breeding hornless cattle

    A discovery by CSIRO scientists is central to the Australian Poll Gene Marker test, which is helping Australian cattle breeders select the best breeding cattle for their herds. It may also help the industry end the painful practice of dehorning beef cattle.

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