SOUTHERN livestock producers are set to benefit from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) backed research projects which have won approval to 2015.
The projects will include genetics research through nucleus herds run co-operatively with breed societies, work on beef yield and eating quality, net feed intake and conversion, as well as improved accuracy in crossbreeding estimated breeding values.
The co-operative nucleus herds include Angus, Limousin, Charolais, Hereford and Brahman and the project is about the opportunities in eating quality, yield attributes, net feed intake and conversion efficiency, said MLA's managing director Scott Hansen.
This would include the collection of phenotypic data and genetic mapping.
The projects would also include a special focus on crossbred performance data and accuracy in predicting outcomes in crossbreeding.
He said the industry was presently increasing its use of crossbreeding to benefit from hybrid vigour so it was important to gain better multi-breed data.
In a new direction, Mr Hansen said $27 million had been committed to research into better pasture genetics to form a better base for livestock production.
He said this included work on creating better pasture persistence in acid or saline soils, and in greater climate variability.
"We really feel there's a great deal to be gained by delving deeper into the genetic base of our southern pasture systems," he said.
The research (and marketing) areas have been driven by MLA's own survey of 700 producers, which is conducted Australia-wide and has revealed rising input costs; cattle prices; market access and export markets among the top four issues. Live exports ranked at number 10.
However, improved market access was among producers' top four areas for increased opportunity, along with an improved clean, high quality product; better export markets and better production techniques.
One area for northern beef producers in which MLA has identified big gains can be made ahead of rising input costs is in reproductive efficiency.
Surveys across 178 top end properties have shown a variability from 20 to 90 per cent in calving rates in northern herds, Mr Hansen said.
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