SA Stud Book, a significant role-player in the genetic improvement of animals in South Africa, recently launched their latest Logix Genomic Service via a zoom webinar which was attended by various interested parties.

The scene was set by Thalia Stavrinos Brameld, technical advisor at SA Stud Book, who took the proverbial bull by the horns, tackling some questions commonly asked by farmers.

“It is important to benchmark and compare our animals to our own population, yet ensure that they remain internationally competitive,” she said. “Today, with the help of my colleagues, we’re going to try and explain a little bit more about the services we render and what makes it so unique.”

The framework of discussion included the following points:

  • An overview of SA Stud Book’s genomic selection service.
  • What makes this service so unique.
  • The team behind it all.
  • How to apply SA Stud Book’s genomic selection on-farm.
  • What to look forward to next.
  • How to participate in the abovementioned service.

Traits of economic value

In an overview of the genomic selection service rendered by SA Stud Book, Dr Japie van der Westhuizen addressed genomic testing services in the dairy trade. Here, traits of economic value are more accurately identified to achieve breeding selection goals faster.

He gave a summary of the necessary steps and said: “Naturally it all starts with a biological sample and the natural way of dealing with it, is by acquiring hair samples from a particular animal’s tail, although other biological materials such as semen and so on can also be used.”

Dr Van der Westhuizen continued: “This is important in order to learn the genetic DNA embedded in each biological cell in an animal’s body – this is why something like hair roots work very well. Once you have the genomic profile of an animal, you can use the information in that profile for genetic improvement in your herd.

“It is all about the accuracy of your breeding values so that when you select an animal, you will know that its breeding value is being accurately calculated in the whole process.” He went on to discuss parentage verification and identification of traits not influenced by the environment.

A unique service

Jason Reding, geneticist at SA Stud Book, also spoke about the uniqueness of these services. He summarised it as follows:

  • This service gives the breeder ownership of genomic data, while any data acquired regarding an animal is the property of that owner.
  • Complete pedigrees are determined where, as a reference point, an animal’s production potential is accessed in conjunction with other producing animals within the South African environment and population.
  • Singe gene traits: SA Stud Book utilises complete pedigrees where a high degree of ancestral information leads to a more accurate estimation of an animal’s level of inbreeding, as well as its level of within-breed relatedness. It also allows for a better estimation of the animal’s breed composition in comparison to other animals within the breed.

Elaborating on the information shared by Reding, Dr Bernice Mostert, another geneticist at SA Stud Book, explained from a more theoretical point of view where genomic information fits into the estimation of breeding values.

“Economically important traits such as reduction, fertility, and longevity, are traits influenced by quite a wide variety of genes, but also the environment,” she said. “In order to accurately access these, we try to estimate the genetic potential of an animal for a trait as accurately as possible. This involves, among others, measuring the animals and their relatives and tracking pedigree information.”

More points on how to apply these services on the farm, followed by Suretha Francis, specialist advisor at SA Stud Book.

Please click on the following links if you would like to watch the complete zoom webinar:

English: https://youtu.be/UGKegvfSBZk

Afrikaans: https://youtu.be/sGrHcStOzYQ

Alternatively, send an email to info@studbook.co.za. – Carin Venter, AgriOrbit