Wagyu Progeny Test Program

2021 - 2031

Be a part of the worlds largest Wagyu Progeny Test outside of Japan!

The 2021-2031 Australian Wagyu Association Progeny Test Program (AWA-PTP) is an AWA initiative supported by its members and Artificial Breeding Partner Vetoquinol Australia and Animal Health Partner Zoetis.

The 2021-2031 AWA-PTP’s purpose is to leverage the existing highly successful global Wagyu BREEDPLAN genetic analysis through testing progeny from the maximum number of emerging industry sires for high-value Wagyu sector traits. It will also develop new Wagyu-specific traits for reproduction, structure, carcase, and meat quality. 

The Project is set to commence in October 2021 with 40 sires expected to be joined to 2,000 cows across multiple contributor herds.

Nominations for the first cohort close 1 July 2021. 

Objectives of the project

Progeny test programs have been the backbone of the beef industry’s genetic improvement for the past 30 years. To date, AWA has built its genetic database and reference population from the high-quality genotype and performance data submitted by AWA members into the Wagyu BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation.

The Project aims to consolidate this data and provide a formal program that aligns with Goal Two of the 2020 – 2025 AWA Strategic Plan: Advance and protect our critical genetic resources.

This will be achieved through large-scale testing of progeny from diverse sire genetics sourced from the global Wagyu sector and the Australian Wagyu cow herd.

  1. Generate comprehensive progeny test data on approximately 250 emerging Wagyu bulls.
  2. Capture data on approximately 3,500 female progeny for new and hard to measure traits including female fertility and maternal performance.
  3. Capture data on approximately 3,500 steer progeny for feed efficiency and structure as well as new carcase and eating quality traits.
  4. Produce high-accuracy EBVs for Project Sires and Contributor Cow Herds as well as benefit the rest of the Wagyu population through the use of genomic analysis and genetic linkage.
  5. Improve outcomes of breeding decisions and increase the rate of genetic gain within the Wagyu breed.
  6. Expand the diversity and size of the reference population for the Wagyu breed, leveraging the AWA genomic, pedigree and performance data.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can AWA Members who are not Wagyu BREEDPLAN members still participate?

Semen Sire Owners do not need to be members of Wagyu BREEDPLAN as the progeny data will be uploaded by the Contributor Cow Herd. BREEDPLAN EBVs are automatically calculated and published for all registered sires, based on their progeny data.

To submit data to BREEDPLAN, Contributor Herd Owners must be a Wagyu BREEDPLAN Member. Enrolling for BREEDPLAN is free for full financial members of the AWA. Contact the office to get your copy of the AWA BREEDPLAN Membership form. Ph: 02 8880 7700

What are the differences between Standard Sires and Link Sires?

Standard Sires will have 260 straws supplied to the project with 60 being used to produce progeny in large cohorts. The other 200 straws from Standard Sires will be offered for sale by open public tender as a part of the AWA-PTP Semen Package Tender program which will consist of 20 semen packages with 10 straws from 20 Sires (total 200 straws per package). It is expected that Standard Sire progeny numbers and data recorded from them will be amplified through industry use.

Link Sires will have supplied 200 straws to the project with 100 being used to produce progeny in two or more cohorts, doubling the number of progeny compared to Standard Sires with guaranteed data collection for all Progeny Test Program traits. The remaining 100 straws will be retained by the AWA so that any future research can be linked to the work done previously in the AWA-PTP.  Moreover, if during the 10-years of the PTP, another trait of interest is identified that was not captured in earlier years of the project, Link Sires can be re-entered, and the new data collected. Through genetic correlations of traits and the performance of the Link Sires, Standard will then also benefit.

What criteria will be used to select Sires?

  • their (genetic) linkage within the Wagyu breed as well as the other nominated animals
  • their EBV diversity & accuracy,
  • their genetic condition status
  • Other considerations will include their age, with preference given to younger/unproven sires (however high accuracy sires will also be considered for linkage and benchmarking purposes)

What criteria will be used to select females for Contributor Cow Herds?

  • their (genetic) linkage within the Wagyu breed as well as the other nominated animals
  • their EBV diversity & accuracy
  • age – second calf (approx. 3yo) or older preferred
  • the nominating herd’s BREEDPLAN completeness of performance rating will also be considered.

Who is responsible for the selection of animals?

Initially, the AWA Genetic Improvement Committee (see board member bios) will consult with AWA Project Team and independent quantitative geneticist, Dr Samuel Clark, UNE, who will utilise the MateSel Program to optimise selection decisions based on the above criteria. Following the acceptance of 2021 animals, an AWA-PTP Consultative Committee will be established for future selection decisions and will include representatives of Semen Sire and Contributor Herd Owners.

How will Sires be assigned to Contributor Cow Herds?

Once Semen Sires and Contributor Herds have been selected and accepted into the Project, all sires and all cows will be pooled and run through MateSel to allocate sires to Contributor Herds based on performance and co-ancestry. Other parameters will include the structure of Link Sires between herds and the genetic condition status of sires. Whilst Contributor Herds will know the identity of the sires, they will not be given the choice of which sires will be joined to the cows they nominate for the Project.

Who owns the Project Progeny?

The Contributor Herd retains ownership of all Project progeny but are required to capture all trait measurements (in cooperation with the AWA for some traits) as defined by the AWA. Heifer progeny, however, are required to be naturally mated (without interference of artificial breeding programs e.g. flushing for IVF) and data captured on heifer’s first two calves from birth to weaning.

What options do Contributor Herds have to feedlot Steer progeny?

There are three options for feeding and processing steer progeny:

  • Arrange for sale of the steer progeny as a single contemporary group to one of AWA’s nominated AWA-PTP feedlots and supply chain facilities; or
  • Arrange for custom feeding of the steer progeny with one of AWA’s nominated AWA-PTP feedlot facilities as a single contemporary group. The Contributor herd will retain ownership of the steer progeny through to recording of carcase and meat phenotypes at slaughter for the Project, followed by sale of the carcases by contract to be agreed after slaughter; or
  • Arrange for feeding, slaughter and recording of Progeny as a single contemporary group within their existing supply chain arrangements and allow for recording of carcase and meat phenotypes as agreed with the AWA for the Project prior to use of the carcases.

How is the 10-year Project being funded?

Funding will be accrued over the lifetime of the Project and will comprise of roughly equal contributions from sire entry fees, semen package tenders and AWA retained assets. These funds will be invested into the project to pay for the breeding, testing and trait recording for all traits for a large number of progeny, contributing to proving the sire and the future saleable value of the sire.

Why do Bull Owners pay entry fees and why is AWA selling straws?

The AWA-PTP’s primary purpose is to progeny test and prove the maximum number of new sires.  The Bull Owners who nominate sires are the primary beneficiary of the program – it is conducted to produce the optimum number of progeny and measure the maximum number of traits to prove their sires.  2/3 of the funds required to run the project are generated from the Bull entry fees and the Semen Tender proceeds.  These will be invested into the project to pay for the breeding, testing and trait recording for a large number of traits for a large number of progeny, contributing to proving the sire and the future saleable value of the sire.

 

Got a question that isn’t answered here? Get in contact.

Laura Penrose

AWA Genetic Projects Manager

laura@wagyu.org.au

0437 356 759

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Important Notice and Disclaimer


It is very important that you appreciate when viewing the AWA database that the information contained on the AWA database, including but not limited to pedigree, DNA information, Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and Index values, is based on data supplied by members and/or third parties.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information reported through AWA, AWA officers and employees assume no responsibility for its content, use or interpretation. AWA disclaims all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you may incur as a result of the use by you of the data on this AWA database and the information supplied by ABRI and AGBU being inaccurate or incomplete in any way for any reason.

Regarding EBVs and Index values, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • EBVs are derived using Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN technology developed independently by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), using the information contained within the AWA database.
  • AGBU is a joint venture of NSW Department of Primary Industries and the University of New England, which receives funding for this purpose from Meat and Livestock Australia Limited.
  • AWA relies solely on advice provided by AGBU and ABRI in accepting Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN software.
  • EBVs published in Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN are estimates of genetic potential of individual animals and may not reflect the raw animal phenotype.
  • EBVs can only be directly compared to other EBVs calculated in the same monthly Wagyu Group BREEDPLAN analysis.

Regarding pedigree and DNA testing results submitted to the AWA, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • Pedigree and DNA data submitted and supplied to AWA may have errors in it which cannot be detected without further DNA testing.
  • Technology may have advanced since a particular test was undertaken so that previous inaccuracies which were not detectable are now able to be detected by current testing technology.
  • AWA estimates that less than 1% of the pedigree entries, ownership or breeding details in the AWA Herdbook may have errors or which may be misleading. For this reason, users ought to consider if they need to obtain independent testing of the relevant animal (if possible) to ensure that the data is accurate.

Regarding prefectural content, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • Prefectural content is based on the estimation of prefectural origin from Japanese breeding records of 201 foundation sires and 168 foundation dams.  As genotype-based parent verification is not used in Japan, and full Japanese registration certificates are not available for all foundation animals, exact prefectural composition for these sires and dams cannot be validated.
  • The calculation of prefectural content for Australian Herdbook animals relies on the accuracy of pedigree records and DNA samples provided by AWA members.
  • The reporting of prefectural content for animals within the AWA Herdbook relies on the calculation provided by ABRI.

If you consider that you do not understand or appreciate the nature and extent of the data provided on this website or the EBVs of a particular animal, then AWA strongly recommends that you seek independent expert advice.