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Sheep and beef cattle genetics consortium to seek value boost from affordable DNA technology

Sheep Central, May 3, 2016
MLA managing director Richard Norton

MLA managing director Richard Norton

A National Livestock Genetics Consortium that aims to double the annual rate of improvement in industry genetic value by 2022 has been announced by Meat and Livestock Australia.

MLA’s managing director Richard Norton said the consortium will invest in research and development to deliver affordable, accurate and easy-to-use technologies for DNA-based genetic improvement in sheep and beef cattle.

The new model of collaboration in genetics and genomics research, development and adoption (RD&A) has generated interest of over $16 million in cash and over $38 million in kind resources, on top of the existing $37 million already invested by MLA and others, he said.

Mr Norton said collaboration is the key to accelerating genetic gain – with the consortium a vital step in that process.

“The MLA board set the wheels in motion in November 2014, setting up a steering group to investigate strategic partnerships and identify priorities to underpin investment for potential partners.

“Expressions of Interest were called in early 2016 and attracted more than 23 participants, and I would certainly encourage any other organisations – both public and private – who are interested in learning more to get in touch,” Mr Norton said.

MLA currently has a range of commitments in genetic improvement, including the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre, Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) beef and sheep research programs, sheep and beef resource flocks and herds, and in specialist extension services.

“Genetics have a cumulative effect that delivers value to all parts for the value chain. Improvements help to create more efficient on-farm production; result in carcases that meet market specs; and underpin eating quality,” Mr Norton said.

“It’s therefore great to see agreement from representatives across the beef and sheep value chain committing their time and resources, including breeders, commercial producers, processors, service providers and research agencies.

“To date the consortium has generated interest of over $16 million in cash and over $38 million in kind resources, on top of the existing $37 million already invested by MLA and others,” he said.

“The new model of RD&A co-investment through the National Livestock Genetics Consortium is now working towards appointing a steering committee to finalise the investment strategy and formalise the governance structures for managing the collective investment.”

Source: MLA.

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