Sykes backs genetic testing

FOR stud breeder Peter Sykes, a genetic test to see if his sires will produce polled progeny is another piece of valuable information.

Peter and his wife Deanne run the Mawarra Hereford stud at Longford and for the first time they have DNA tested their sale bulls for genetic poll information.

Producers were told about the test, which has only been commercially available for 12 months, at a Hereford field day at Mawarra earlier this month.

The DNA test was developed by the Beef Co-operative Research Centre, CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australia and University of New England in response to industry concerns about dehorning and animal welfare.

Pfizer Animal Health has commercial rights to the genetic test which retail for about $25 and, according to company sales representative Jeffrey Doolan, requires 20 to 30 hair tail samples.

“The polled gene is a single gene trait (and) it’s a dominant gene whereas horned (trait) is a recessive gene,” Jeffrey said.

He said the test identifies the probability of an animal being homozygous polled, which means it carries two copies of polled variant gene, or heterozygous where it has both the polled and horned gene.

According to Jeffrey, testing in Herefords has shown results are about 99 per cent accurate, while Beef CRC research says it’s also highly accurate for Brahman, but some British and European breeds are more ambiguous.

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