RDAR helps deliver $3.8M combined investment by the governments of Alberta and Canada, Alberta Cattle Associations, and TELUS Agriculture into bovine genomics aims to boost producer profitability

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Source: RDAR

The Canadian Angus Association will receive $3.8M to increase Canadian cattle producers’ ability to make data-driven decisions based on genomics to economically benefit their commercial livestock operations. The investment will be used to develop a genetic selection tool to equip producers with breeding data to select the best replacement heifers to improve their herds.

Using the selection tool, producers will have access to reliable genetic data to select for desired traits such as growth and fertility. This will improve the overall genetic potential of Canadian cattle herds, which has the potential to translate into increased profits across the value chain and more exports.

RDAR (Results Driven Agriculture Research) facilitated a contribution of $978,000, through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership — funded by the governments of Alberta and Canada. The Canadian Angus and Hereford Associations, together with TELUS Agriculture, contributed to the balance of the $3.8M.

“Canada’s beef industry is known around the world for its high quality and commitment to sustainability. It’s vitally important that we invest in new innovations and technologies, like this genetic selection tool, to help producers grow their businesses sustainably while remaining competitive, both globally and here at home.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food 

“Alberta is known for having some of the best beef products in the world. We are pleased to help fund this innovative project which will enable Alberta’s cattle producers to make more informed, data-driven decisions about their herds and help us maintain our world-class reputation.”
RJ Sigurdson, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation

“Data-driven genetic decisions and the adoption of genetic technologies will benefit the whole Canadian beef production value-chain. Using accurate genetic data is essential to ensuring Alberta beef continues to be known worldwide as the best. This genomic technology will drive sustainable growth across the cattle industry.”
Dr. David Chalack DVM, Chair, RDAR Board of Directors

The principal investigator Dr. Kajal Latimer, Director of Science and Technology for the Canadian Angus Association, sees the industry benefits of this genetic selection tool project to be far-reaching as it uses extensive Canadian seedstock and commercial data collected by both Cattle Associations and TELUS Agriculture.

From a geneticist’s perspective, the opportunity to lead this project is a dream come true. Thanks to the project partnerships and support from RDAR, we can link animal performance information from all parts of the Canadian beef industry to create genomic predictions that work for our commercial sector. Nothing is more rewarding than having the opportunity to develop science and systems that support our commercial producers.
Dr. Kajal Latimer, Director of Science and Technology, Canadian Angus Association

Using the selection tool, producers will have access to reliable genetic data and replacement female information at the same depth that has been available for breeding bulls. By expanding access to heifer genetic information, the industry can improve animal health outcomes while reducing producer input costs.

Dr. Latimer’s team is working to develop an easy-to-use animal record management system and training staff to help on-farm with DNA sampling and data recording.

“With this genomic heifer selection tool, we’re emphasizing the replacement heifer. She’s carrying the herd’s most valuable cargo—the next generation to advance the herd for Canadian beef production.”
Kee Jim, DVM, TELUS Agriculture Alberta

Cattle Producer Quotes

“If genomic data were available to effectively sort heifers for performance, maternal traits, and carcass quality, the long-term dream of advancing herds would be possible. Marketable data would also give producers a competitive edge in domestic and export markets, and buyers at different points in the animals’ cycles would have more insight into what they are buying.”
Austin Cross, Cross Cattle Company, Alberta

“For me, this is going to be another tool that I can utilize to identify genetics that are superior for traits that I can’t see or measure easily, like feed efficiency and carcass quality. I want to know which females can perform better on less input without having to build progeny and production proofs.”
Greg Pugh, Pugh Farms, Edgerton, Alberta

It’s invaluable to know ahead of time which heifers are going to produce calves that grow well, stay healthy, and have excellent carcass quality. We owe that to our customers and consumers. We require genomic information on all the bulls that we buy. We want to be able to access the same type of information for our females. This is going to help the whole beef business, no matter what size of operation, or where it is in Canada.”
Rob Garner, Nordal Farms, Simpson, Saskatchewan

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