Territory Stories

Alice Springs Rural Review



Alice Springs Rural Review


Northern Territory. Department of Resources


Alice Springs Rural Review; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Alice Springs Rural Review




Alice Springs


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; Includes : Pastoral Market Update November 2010; Arid Zone Research Institute; AZRI, Alice Springs




Agriculture; Alice Springs Region; Periodicals

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Northern Territory Government

Place of publication

Alice Springs


Alice Springs Rural Review


V 44 (9-12) December 2010

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



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ALICE SPRINGS RURAL REVIEW, Page 12 of 20 Time for the northern cattle industry to put more emphasis on genetics Neil MacDonald, Director Research, DoR, Katherine At a cattle industry meeting a few weeks ago I suggested that genetics was a field where the NT had not progressed as well as other jurisdictions. I was taken to task for not having data to back up that opinion. I still dont have much evidence singling out the NT, but Rob Banks from MLA has provided some data showing that genetic progress in North Australian herds over the last 30 years has been only a third of that in the south. In Figure 1, the bottom line is the north and top line the south. On average southern cows have gained almost $30 in value since 1980 from genetic improvement alone, while northern cows have gained just less than $10. Figure 1: Genetic improvement in Northern and Southern Breeds The reason for stating this difference is not to criticise or beat ourselves up, but to show what a great opportunity we have ahead of us. For the whole of the Australian Beef Industry, the rate of genetic improvement is increasing. In 2009 the rate of gain has been calculated at $1.95 per cow joined per year, about double the rate in 1999. That sounds good, but it is really only about the same as the rest of the world. The best herds over this period have recorded rates of genetic gain of about $7 per head per year, again showing that most of the industry is nowhere near its potential. There are obvious reasons why the south is further ahead than the north: In the tropics we have to select for hardiness which makes selection for productive traits a slower process We are dealing with bigger herds. Up to now we have not concentrated to the same extent on individual animals. We have a shorter time to develop our production systems. Its only about 20 years since BTEC finished and all cattle came under control and we have spent much of that time concentrating on increasing the Bos indicus content of our herds. Up to now meat quality has not been a major profit driver for many parts of the north Some southern breeds have made extensive use of AI to make full use of superior imported genetics. The southern figures are enhanced by the tremendous progress made by the Angus breed. They have made the most of some well-chosen imported genetics from a few years ago. $0 $5 $10 $15 $20 $25 $30 19 80 19 82 19 84 19 86 19 88 19 90 19 92 19 94 19 96 19 98 20 00 20 02 20 04 20 06 20 08 Year of Birth W e ig h te d a v e ra g e $ In d e x Northern Southern