Three of the most prestigious international animal recording and genetics conferences are being held in New Zealand this week, with Massey University staff and students showcasing their work to the world.
The largest of the three – the 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (WCGALP) –has only been held in the Southern Hemisphere once and will attract close to 1300 researchers, scientists, students and other professionals from more than 70 countries.
Massey will be strongly represented with seven PhD students presenting research results. Their topics include: how lamb skin thickness affects survival; the growth of calves produced from crossing beef bulls over dairy cows; the productive performance of ewe lambs born to ewe hoggets; the heritability of body condition in merino sheep; and first lactation dairy cow live weight and lactation yield.
At the forefront of Massey’s research in genetics and breeding, is Massey’s AL Rae Centre, who helped secure the conference with a bid at the 2014 Congress in Vancouver with the assistance of colleagues from AgResearch, LIC and Wickham Consulting.
Local organising committee chair Hugh Blair says; “the congress provides an exciting opportunity to show to the world’s top geneticists how well New Zealand breeders have used genetics to improve the production and health of animals and plants. Since the time of Professor Rae and Dr Dry, New Zealand and Massey have been considered world leaders in the implementation of genetics, and this event will be a grand opportunity to demonstrate the improvements made.”
Professor Dorian Garrick recently returned to the AL Rae Centre and is working to establish more accurate predictions of genetic merit using a combination of performance and genomic data to assist with genetically ranking animals for selection.
Importance for New Zealand
Professor Garrick says, “the congress is a priority for us to attend wherever it may be in the world so that we can keep on top of the latest technologies, and share our own developments.”
Over 900 papers will be presented over the five days, covering everything from breeding values to herd testing. The Congress will also include 10 field trips to showcase New Zealand’s sheep, beef cattle, deer, equine, dairy sheep, aquaculture, trees and kiwifruit industries. For more information.
The other two conferences are the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) and Interbull –the leading event for research and development in animal improvement, milk testing, DNA parentage analysis, genomics and genetics.
All three events are being held at Aotea Centre in Auckland.