Contrary to last week’s news about the Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society taking on genomics to help improve the accuracy of estimated breeding values, the Hereford Cattle Society has already implemented such evaluations.

At the start of the year, the Hereford Cattle Society upgraded its breed recording system to enable the supply of robust data to breeders and the beef industry. Working alongside Breedplan’s Dr Brad Crook, the new single-step Breedplan evaluations were implemented. This system is powered by a highly sophisticated algorithm for the accurate calculation of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), combining the information supplied by breeders and an animal’s pedigree.

“It’s been long considered that an animal's genetics merit is defined by receiving 50% from its parents and 25% from each grandparent. Whilst the former part remains true with genomic data, the latter is not necessarily so,” explained, Dr. Crook.

“In the case of the sire, he might contribute more genetic material from one or the other of his parents to his progeny, depending on how genes from his parents get mixed and swapped when semen cells are being formed. It is much the same with the dam and how she produces the egg.”

The Hereford Cattle Society boasts just shy of 1400 members, with around 13,500 animals – as of January 2023 – recorded on the HCS database. Each animal will have at least 50,000 SNPs, having this already existing pool of information to feed upon, not only has an influence on an individual breeder’s selection choices but opens the much bigger possibility of deepening the knowledge of the biology underlying the traits expressed in the Hereford breed.

The breed has already used this improved EBV data at the annual autumn show and sale at Shrewsbury. Showcased much as expected in an EBV chart, it would appear on first inspection that nothing had changed. However, behind the scenes Breedplan has used the data provided to improve the information on that card, offering buyers on the day the most accurate information available for any native breed on the UK market to date.

The society also made further progress in May by offering and encouraging members to have their herds linear scored. Another tool utilised by Holstein breeders with much success, the breed hopes to cement these new systems into the zeitgeist of society, further adding value and clarity for both pedigree and commercial producers.