Wednesday, July 6, 2022

BV feedback wanted

DEERSelect wants farmers to put pen to paper and come up with the traits they would most like to improve genetically, and to crystal ball gaze as to what breed values (BVs) might be important in the future. “At the moment DEERSelect is strong in growth and early calving with some meat breed values but there’s nothing on reproduction and survival and I’m trying to gauge interest in this,” DEERSelect manager Sharon McIntyre said.

From feedback received at David and Pam Nind’s field day, the big message was that farmers wanted BVs that measured efficiency.

“That means conception rates and survival.”

McIntyre said hind survival, especially during the first four years, was important.

“Generally if a hind gets through the first four years without being dry she’ll go on to be a good performer throughout her life.”

Looking to the future, farmers suggested that BVs for twinning, late pedicle development, and polled animals might be worthwhile.

“Twinning would be hard to do in deer,” McIntyre said.

“Some farmers wanted delayed pedicle development so they didn’t have the hassle of spikers, but for other farmers this is a good thing. Not everything that will be suggested will be feasible or necessarily desirable.”

DEERSelect had only a basic breed value for velvet, indicating left or right or total growth, and input was needed from farmers on what other velvet indicators were required.

“Genetics is there to support the industry so it (what DEERSelect comes up with) needs to be relevant. This is not intended to be just a paper exercise and hopefully we’ll be able to implement what’s practical.”

The newly formed DEERSelect stakeholder reference group will look at the suggestions and help prioritise trait development. Up and running since March, the group has been formed to help direct DEERSelect policy. Members are: Tim Aitken (chair), John Somerville, Dave Lawrence, Mike Wilkins, Steve Blanchard, Geoff Nicoll, and Jake Chardon. The group will rotate so that any breeder with an interest will have the chance to participate.

McIntyre said the goal was to maintain good communication with all breeders on important matters and support them, a recently introduced example being two-monthly emails covering a genetic recording topic or items of interest.

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