A breeding program to increase fertility in Brahman cattle, run since 1994, continues to enjoy outstanding results and is drawing interest from all over Australia, according to the Northern Territory's Department of Resources.
Brahmans are very popular in the NT and in south-east Asian live export markets as they perform well in harsh climatic conditions, but they have lower fertility rates than breeds more common in southern parts of Australia.
The breeding program uses Brahman cattle specifically chosen for their above average reproductive traits.
Department of Resources (DoR) principal pastoral production research officer Tim Schatz says results from the program are extremely promising.
“DoR have been selecting for fertility in a Brahman herd since 1994, using objective selection on fertility traits and the BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation system, with significant progress being been made through selection for fertility.
“In the Selected Brahman herd pregnancy rates from yearling mating were significantly higher compared to commercial herds.
“And pregnancy rates in lactating cows at the first weaning round were notably higher in the Selected Brahman breed compared to an unselected control herd.
“We have been approached by a number of inter-state and local groups wanting to access the genetics and demand for bulls is increasing each year.
“We run extension programs around the Territory to increase and disseminate knowledge on objective selection techniques to primary producers, it is important that people have the knowledge to be able to select bulls based on their genetic value and not just on their looks,” Mr Schatz said.
The Northern Territory Government’s continued support for this type of cutting-edge research, and making it available to producers, plays a major part in ensuring the NT has the skills and knowledge to compete profitably in the future.
Improving the characteristics of Brahman cattle will boost the marketability of the breed to both domestic and export markets.
The NT cattle industry is worth $267 million a year to the Territory economy, and supports jobs and economic activity throughout the Top End.
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