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Using temporal associations to determine maternal parentage in extensive beef herds
journal contributionposted on 09.03.2018, 00:00 by Donald Menzies, Kym Patison, Nicholas Corbet, David Swain
The assignment of maternal parentage, although time-consuming and expensive using traditional methods, is essential for genetic improvement. Within the sheep industry the recording of time-based (temporal) associations without human intervention has been routinely used to derive maternal parentage, however it has not been researched in extensive beef production systems. To determine whether temporal associations could be used to assign maternal parentage, cows and calves had their identity recorded as they walked to water over a 27-day trial. Two methods of association were investigated, being the half-weight index and the time difference between a cow and calf having their identity recorded. The half-weight index, which is a measure of the number of times two individuals are recorded together, correctly assigned greater than 90% of maternal pairs. When investigating the duration of data recording it was shown that 85% of maternal parentage could be achieved within only 21 days. Further work is required to determine the effect of calf age, herd and paddock size; however, the results showed that the half-weight index method of determining maternal associations is a labour-saving and accurate alternative to traditional methods used to identify maternal parentage.