Established in 2017, the Wagyu Fellowship program allows students to undertake research for the advancement of Wagyu to share with the industry, with multiple options for members of the industry who may find themselves in different research/study circumstances.
Two new opportunities were developed for members of the AWA to undertake net feed intake and genetic diversity research in 2023.
Wagyu Genetic Diversity Fellowship
This grant would provide $10,000 to assist members in nominating two AWA-PTP sires demonstrating high genetic diversity. Using genomic information, the AWA can determine high genetic diversity sires within each birth year and seek to assist members with high diversity sires to participate in the AWA-PTP. The AWA member would be required to nominate two high genetic diversity sires, identified to the member by the AWA and pay the fee of $7,500 per sire. The AWA would then award the member with a Genetic Diversity Grant, providing $10,000 to the AWA member to assist with the costs of semen testing and collection of genetic materials of interest to the AWA for the future benefit of the breed. The AWA may keep the straws of the sire for Auction by tender or for use in future AWA programs.
If the AWA awarded two Wagyu Fellowship Genetic Diversity Grants per year, the AWA would secure 12 high genetic diversity sires within the AWA-PTP within the first three years of the program.
Wagyu Net Feed Intake Fellowship
This grant provides $10,000 towards assisting members who have implemented Net Feed Intake recording infrastructure using Vytelle/GrowSafe feeders. As an example, a Wagyu Fellowship NFI Recording Grant of AUD $10,000 could be provided to an AWA member implementing a 4-node or higher number NFI recording system to complete implementation of the system (not including capital costs), offset management costs and running costs over a 3-year period to incentivise recording of Net Feed Intake on registered animals and provision of data to the AWA to support development and implementation of an NFI EBV.
Through a 4-node system, a member could run three trials per year of 40 animals per trial, totalling 120 animals per year. If AWA awarded two Wagyu Fellowship NFI Grants per year for 3 years, it would enable cumulative testing of up to 1,440 animals over the three years, leaving an ongoing testing capacity of 720 animals per year.
The AWA is already working with AWA-PTP contributor herds to make them aware of NFI testing and promote the benefits of NFI testing to them. The AWA may prioritise access to the grant to AWA-PTP herds or by members who commit to testing AWA-PTP progeny or large numbers of registered progeny and providing this data to the AWA.