The Maternal line/side of the pedigree is more important to us than the paternal line. Through practical research and observation of both the dairy and beef cattle industry over the last 30+ years, we have noticed along with many others that certain maternal lines sort themselves to the top in their ability to transmit genetic improvement to the next generation. This is most
noticeable when examining the top-ranking sires of a breed over a period of years. A fantastic example of this in Wagyu is the Hikokura maternal line has produced numerous top-ranking bulls on the Australian system.
The exact science behind this trend is still not fully understood, but the bottom line is that 1+1 doesn’t = 2 in genetics. More often than not the female has a stronger influence on the performance of the offspring than the male she is mated to (think female contributes more DNA “that matters” than the male does). Some possible explanations for this are mitochondrial DNA inheritance comes from the female only, cytoplasmic inheritance, and epigenetics which are inherited and triggered from the maternal environment provided by the dam.
This is why we have chosen to work with the Suzutani, Hikokura, Yuriko, Okutani,
Hatsuhi, Chisahime, Chiyotake, Aizakura, Kikuhana, Kanetani, and Yasuyoshi maternal lines. By using these maternal lines and their proven ability to transmit superior genetics and combining them with sire stacks of high reliability, high ranking and performing proven bulls we are taking as much risk and chance out of the genetic equation as possible!!
1. Focus 1st on Marbling and Marble Score:
· This is the profit driving trait of Wagyu
· You need a salable carcass that has marbling to generate a premium, otherwise you might as well be breeding Angus.
2. Focus 2nd on a balance of a few traits equally justifiable:
· Carcass Weight
i. Larger carcass weights allow for maximizing efficiencies of slaughter costs & processing, feed bunk/ feedlot space, and steady beef supply
· Rib Eye Area
i. The largest source of revenue from the carcass, drives carcass profitability
· Marble Fineness
i. Fineness of marbling drives premiums and appeal to high end chefs and customers
ii. Fineness of marbling drives flavor; the more fine marbling in meat means there is more marbling cell wall which while cooked creates Wagyu’s unique flavor.
· Residual Feed Intake
i. Feed costs commonly account for more than half the cost of production from birth to slaughter.
· Growth traits, 200 Day, 400 Day, 600 Day Weights
i. Reducing DOF (Days On Feed) is a key factor in remaining profitable and competing with high marbling Angus and other breeds
How we plan to accomplish gains in these areas:
1. Use Australian Breedplan
· Largest Wagyu EBV/EPD database outside of Japan
· More than 84,000 dams and 10,000 sires recorded, 6,700 AUS Meat Marble Score recorded, 5,800 Carcass Camera recorded carcasses (MS, MF, REA), 28,000 Weaning Wts, 24,000 400 Day Wts
· Now offers Genomic Testing based on all this data for traits including MS, MF, CW, REA, 200D Wt, 400D Wt, and 600D Wt
· 50K SNP profile based genomics (Cattle Industry Leading Technology)
· Highlights strengths and weaknesses of cattle numerically allowing for easier management and mating
2. Use/Invest in high reliability sires backed by actual carcass data (>80% Reliability for MS)
· Or a variety of sons of elite high reliability bulls
· Young sires should be genomic tested to reduce risk and increase reliability
3. Maintain or invest in a variety of Maternal lines or Cow families
· Use high proven female maternal lines: think Suzutani, Okutani, Yuriko, Chisahime, Hikokura, etc. This minimizes your risk of failure carcasses
· Different maternal lines have different strengths that can be complimenting and successful crosses
· Increases your herds marketability (Seedstock)
· Manages inbreeding
4. Genomic Test your entire herd of Fullblood/purebred cattle
· Identifies top and bottom of your herd
· Identifies strengths and weaknesses of individual animals
· Adds value by creating higher accuracy EBVs for all cattle tested
5. Use Corrective mating, breeding complimentary cattle to one another to eliminate flaws or weaknesses.
· Use carcass bulls on females with size and growth, and maternal/growth bulls on females that need size and milk.
· Evaluate matings individually, often times Wagyu take 2-3 generation of carcass bulls on females that retain size and growth well like the Hikokura maternal line.
6. Make separate matings for Terminal use and Replacement use.
· Terminal matings should focus more on key carcass traits (MS, MF, REA, CWT)
· Replacement matings should focus on growth and maternal traits
7. Plan on killing animals to verify the genetics you have and are breeding
· Create sizable contemporary groups for meaningful data (>10 head, same sex, 2 common reference sires, born in 3 week window, and must be fed and slaughter in the same system for the same period of time)
· Steer 80% of bulls, to prove the value of your top 20% remaining bulls each year
· Creates value thru carcass data
· Shows your cattle’s strengths or weaknesses
· Allows for creating better matings in the future
· Submit your carcass data to Breedplan to increase your EBVs accuracy
8. All of this will allow Synergy to share and compare your Wagyu Cattle to other Elite breeders around the USA and Globe.
· Either your cattle will prove themselves to be elite, average, poor
· This allows you cull poor ones, better utilize the average, and flush or market the very elite cattle for more value.
· It also allows for you to identify better or complimenting genetics that can be bought or acquired to improve your herd.
Other Useful Data/Thoughts: What data says I should do all this?
Breeding Plan- Fullbloods (docx)Download
Strategies for Managing Breeding and Genetics Programs (pdf)Download
Maternal Lines Presentaion (pdf)Download
Value of Elite Females (pdf)Download
Importance of Maternal Lines (pdf)Download
USA Wagyu Perspective (pdf)Download
Wagyu Bloodlines & Breeding Decisions (pdf)Download