Celebrating Our Successes

Apr 23, 2024

Australian farmers have been urged to celebrate their successes as figures emerge showing just how valuable the genetics industry is to the agricultural economy.

During the GA 2024 conference, DataGene CEO Matt Shaffer outlined how breeding values had advanced from milk, fat and some protein readings in 1983 to the vast array of traits available today, and from being produced once a year to once a week.

“We can now deliver breeding values within seconds; it’s a big change instead of waiting on the mail,” he said.

The advancements have led to great outcomes for cattle breeders.

“It means we’ve been breeding cows that get better and better,” Matt said. “You see improvement points when genomics were introduced, when we started BPI and changed the focus away from pure production…17 per cent of Australia’s herd is in a fifth lactation or above. That’s amazing – we have amazing cows here and we often forget that.

“Every time a straw goes into a cow, that choice ripples through the generations. Cows that were bred in 1983 are still affecting the trend line today.”

A review last year comparing nine countries across Oceania, Europe and North America confirmed the great genetic gain over recent years in Australia compared to the rest of the world.

In the early 2000s, Australia’s rate of genetic gain was less than half the international average but through the hard work of everyone in the industry, the country is now well above the international average.

“We do a fantastic job and have made great progress and we should celebrate that,” Matt said.

Independent work commissioned by Dairy Australia and DataGene shows DataGene will contribute $980 million to the industry over the next 30 years, an exceptional return on investment with a benefit-cost ratio of 15.8 to 1.

The contribution of the Dairy Australia levy was also significant. In the first seven years of DataGene, DA invested $19 million that has delivered $331 million in outcomes, a benefit-cost of 17.9 to 1.

“We need to stop looking at our navel saying that the rest of the world does a better job than we do. We do a fantastic job and it’s worth celebrating.”

Matt added that future successes would rely on continued industry collaboration.

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