Wagyu genetics have a complex and long history beginning with their origins in Japan. Wagyu pedigree reading and genetics can be difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, Wagyu specific Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are readily available and increasing in reliability. EBVs assign numerical values to a wide variety of traits making it easy to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and rankings of animals. This creates easier decision making for current breeders and less daunting decision making for those looking to enter the Wagyu industry. EBVs, along with pedigrees, prefectural analysis, and recessive testing represent a wealth of information available to all breeders.
There is an ever-increasing wealth of performance and carcass data available to breeders. It is important to consider several factors when reviewing raw data. First, what is the story behind the data? What environment were animals raised in? We cannot be comparing apples to oranges; this is why contemporary grouping and software data analysis (i.e. Breedplan) are extremely important because they attempt to take into account the influence of the environment. What was the environment; were all animals fed the same ration, were all animals on feed for the same number of days? Remember data of animals/sires from different herds cannot be directly compared because of differences in environment. EBVs and EPDs are the only way to accurately compare animals raised in different environments.
Run by the Australian Wagyu Association (the largest Wagyu registry outside Japan), Breedplan has published EBVs for Fullblood and Purebred Wagyu since 2015. This is the largest Wagyu EBV/EPD database outside of Japan. Wagyu Breedplan’s analysis includes more than 101,000 dams and 11,700 sires. Breedplan data includes more than 31,500 birth weights, 33,500 weaning (200 Day) weights, 28,000 400 Day weights, Fullblood carcass data of 9,500 carcass weights, 5,700 carcass EMAs, and a total of 9,100 carcass AUS-Meat marble scores, camera marbling percent and camera fineness index measures.
Wagyu Breedplan is backed by world leading genetic analysis software from Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) geneticists. This has led to the utilization of industry leading single-step genomic analysis to produce Genomic Enhanced EBVs (GEBVs). Commonly referred to as “Genomics”, GEBVs produce increased accuracy through the analysis of 50K SNP DNA data, along with tradition pedigree and performance data. Genomics or GEBVs allow for earlier and more accurate selection and identification of elite cattle.
Wagyu Breedplan publishes four independent profitability indexes for different production strategies. They are the Self-Replacing Breeding $Index (SRI), Wagyu Breeder $Index (WBI), Wagyu Fullblood Terminal $Index (FTI), and Wagyu F1 Terminal $Index (F1I). The SRI and WBI are aimed at production systems where females are retained as herd replacements and each have different carcass value assumptions. FTI and F1I are aimed at production systems where all animals are intended for slaughter and again both have different carcass value assumptions. These indexes all have different weighted values for traits and attempt to consider production costs along with assumed carcass values. Read more about these on the Australian Wagyu Association’s website.