The Livestock Registering Federation (LRF) is an umbrella body with the main purpose to unite, promote and protect its members acting as Registering Authorities in Southern Africa. Currently, eight South African beef breed societies, 21 Namibian cattle breed societies, and 16 cattle breed societies in Zimbabwe, are affiliated with the LRF. This counts to about 1700 individual stud breeders.
The LRF Council consists of representatives of each of the affiliated breed societies in South Africa, as well as representatives from the Namibian Stud Breeders Association (NSBA) and the Zimbabwe Herd Book (ZHB). Mr Mecki Schneider (Brahman and Simmentaler breeder in Namibia) is the Chairman of the LRF for 2021 and Mr Johan Styger (Simmentaler breeder in South Africa) is the Vice-chairman.
The LRF office consist of four personnel members. Dr Michael Bradfield as Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Izaan du Plooy as the Technical Officer, Mrs. Jeanine Labuschagne as the HerdMASTER support Officer and Mrs. Jorita van der Elst as the Financial Officer. Each of which has a unique roll to play within the LRF.
All the LRF societies make use of ABRI/BREEDPLAN services for keeping record of their animals (pedigree, performance, and genomic data) as well as their member information. BREEDPLAN also provide the societies with a monthly genetic evaluation. For all the BREEDPLAN services rendered to the societies, the LRF office provides technical support to the societies and its members. This includes:
- Training/support to society staff on the use of ILR2, the registry used for keeping animal and member details.
- Technical support to staff on queries received from members.
- Training of members on the use and understanding of breeding values, performance recording, genomics, etc.
As one of the LRF’s corporate goals, training and equipping LRF society members with all the required genetic and genomic information, are one of the most important functions of the LRF. Dr Michael Bradfield and Mrs. Izaan du Plooy are mostly responsible for these activities, but they often include the expertise of others. The LRF uses various platforms to distribute information to its members. These include for example the following:
- Monthly LRF/BREEDPLAN newsletters
- Society Journal articles
- Landbouweekblad, Veeplaas and Agriforum (Namibia) articles
- Social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- The annual Diploma Course in Animal Breeding and Genomics in collaboration with the University of the Free State
- The annual LRF Stockman School (13 – 15 October 2021)
- BREEDPLAN and HerdMASTER courses and information sessions
- Information sessions at the Societies’ Annual General Meetings
The LRF annually award breeders for their devotion and hard work as stud breeders, with several awards announced at the LRF Stockman School. Last year Mr André van der Merwe, Brangus breeder, was awarded as the Molatek Landbouweekblad/Breedplan Stud Breeder of the Year for 2020.
As performance recording is the cornerstone of any genetic evaluation, the LRF encourages stud and commercial breeders to make use of a herd management software program such as HerdMASTER. HerdMASTER, a world leading herd management software program is also one of the services that the LRF offers to its clients. Mrs. Labuschagne is the LRF’s fulltime HerdMASTER support officer. The use of a herd management program allows breeders to effortlessly keep record and submit performance data to their society, which is a critical component of a breed society’s genetic evaluation.
Three projects for 2021 that the LRF is very excited about is the implementation of a DNA pipeline for the different LRF societies, the implementation of ILROnline and the delivering of RTU scanning services to the industry in South Africa. ILROnline is ABRI/BREEDPLAN’s newest software program for societies that will allow breeders to register animals, transfer animals, enter performance data, manage their inventories, pay for outstanding accounts, etc. on the breed society’s database. One of the advantages of ILROnline is that breeders will know exactly which animals are always registered to their membership, which animals are pending registration and know exactly what performance data is recorded for each of their animals.
With the implementation of the DNA module by ABRI/BREEDPLAN in 2019, the society now also has the opportunity to provide DNA services to its members. Breeders are now able to work through the society to have their animals’ DNA tests done, either for parentage and/or the identification of genetic defects or traits. It will remain the breeder’s choice at which laboratory the tests should be done. The pipeline is in place for the following laboratories: Unistel, ZooOmics/Genepro, as well as Neogen (Scotland).
The society will thus be able to provide a one-stop service to its members. The provision of DNA services by societies is a trend that can be seen in most of the leading cattle societies worldwide. Requesting DNA tests through the society has several benefits for the producer. For example:
- The duplication of DNA tests is eliminated as the animals’ identification numbers are checked by the society and the correct identification numbers as registered on the society’s database are sent to the laboratory.
- There is an opportunity for the society to collectively negotiate the price of tests at the different laboratories.
- The turnaround times by the laboratories can potentially be shortened, as:
- Requests are sent electronically to the laboratory and imported into their system electronically.
- Samples are checked at the society to ensure that:
- the identification numbers have been written on the samples correctly.
- there is enough DNA sample available to do DNA extraction on.
- DNA results are returned to the society electronically and in the correct format to be imported into the society’s system seamlessly.
- Ease the registration process as the test results are sent directly to the society.
- DNA samples can be stored at the society for reuse.
Apart from all the benefits that the implementation of a DNA pipeline has for the breeders, it can also serve as a good source of income for the society. The society can also build a biobank for the breed that can in future be used for research, building a genomic reference population, etc. For the society, receiving electronic results (in the correct format) is also beneficial as it can be import into the system effortlessly and without the occurrence of human errors.
Beef Genomics Program 1
Round 1 of the Beef Genomics Project (BGP) brought in R30 million to industry. The SA Santa Gertrudis allocation was R835 000, for subsidized RFI tests, Meat Quality tests and its allocation of SNP’s. Engaging with TIA was a direct saving of funds to the members and the application to TIA was done by the LRF board members, particularly Mr Thys Meyer. The advantages of genomics are numerous and have been explained in many communiques to the breed society, in courses and recently at the Santa Gertrudis AGM. The results of round one has also been interesting and has shown how the Santa Gertrudis compares to other LRF breeds in terms of Meat Quality and Feed efficiency tests.
For the next round of the BGP project the Santa Gertrudis will need to fund itself. Significant work has been done on the possibility of a combined South Africa, Namibia and Australian evaluation. The Australian Santa Gertrudis recently implemented the Single Step evaluation withy over 4000 SNP genotypes.
Health Status and the Stud Industry
South Africa annually exports 40 000 tons of meat (up from 34 000 tons in 2019). China in particular is important because 30% of our product goes to this country. A Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak (FMD) costs the weaner calf producer an average of R1500 per animal (at least R7 per kilogram) and the industry between R5 and 6 billion rand. The prices for stud animals are largely dependent on the weaner calf price. For now, our export markets are still open but an outbreak of FMD of any animal outside the “red zone” will mean the end of this. It is therefore critically important that we as an industry improve the health status and work with the government to do so. The LRF plays a significant role in the interaction with Government and Industry to find a way to improve the health status of the country. Without exports the industry becomes unviable hence the need to work as a collective to improve the status quo.
Dr Michael Bradfield (CEO) & Izaan du Plooy (LRF Technical officer)