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Lifting beef industry productivity through genetic improvement – progress and challenges in a changing climate


  • Barwick, Steve


Beef breeding needs to respond to numerous challenges if it is to help lift industry productivity in the face of likely declines in the production environment and other pressures. A brief summary of some of the key challenges is presented here against the background of the genetic trends that are occurring within and across the industry‘s breeds. During the past decade there has been a major shift in industry focus from single traits towards genetic selection for overall merit. Favourable genetic changes are occurring at an increasing rate across multiple traits and in overall merit across most breeds. These changes are sometimes large, for example, in the Angus breed. Nevertheless, there is the potential, and need, for rates of genetic gain to be much greater. Inadequacies of performance recording still limit what can be achieved in many breeds. Key challenges exist in molecular genetics, in integrating genetics and management improvements, and in genetic selection confronting both environment change and the potential cost of methane emissions. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be for industry to maintain the needed focus on improving overall productivity in the face of potentially many new pressures to consider single issues.

Suggested Citation

  • Barwick, Steve, 2011. "Lifting beef industry productivity through genetic improvement – progress and challenges in a changing climate," AFBM Journal, Australasian Farm Business Management Network, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 1-6, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:afbmau:121458

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