Genomics scheme 'reliability' ratings is set to rise
Influx of new DNA samples will boost star ratings' data
The reliability of the Beef Genomic scheme's star ratings could jump by a third by the end of next year as DNA samples for thousands of farms begin flooding into ICBF.
The early indications from research suggest that the reliability of the current star ratings is predicted to be just over 40pc for genomically-tested animals, but even this is twice the reliability of traditional pedigree records for many beef animals.
The reliability of the rankings that will determine whether farmers get paid in the new Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) was just one of the many topics that were aired during the Department of Agriculture's information meetings that started last week.
However, geneticists have insisted that the only way to get greater reliability into beef breeding rankings is through greater involvement by farmers in schemes such as the BDGP.
"With the beef cattle that were initially genotyped, it appears that reliabilities of around 43-45pc are being achieved," said Teagasc geneticist, Donagh Berry at the National Beef Conference. Even with the numbers genotyped rising to 100,000 last year, Dr Berry doesn't expect the reliabilities to rise much more than 2-3pc for this year.
"The reliability for the dairy increased by 10 percentage units as more animals were included in the reference population and the same will happen in beef so hopefully 55-58pc reliability will be achieved by the end of 2016," he added.
Dairy evaluations were always more reliable due to the amount of data that was available, with dairy cow evaluations before DNA testing typically coming in at 32pc reliability. This contrasts with the 25pc reliability associated with many beef bulls, and just 20pc or less for beef cows prior to DNA analysis. The reliabilities for animals without any recorded sire will be less than 10pc.
Despite being hailed as an "innovative programme that will revolutionise" beef breeding, farmers are still concerned about the rules surrounding the BDGP, especially the length of time they're tied into the new scheme.