MateSel

Deciding which bull is mated to which cow has a major impact on the rate of genetic improvement, inbreeding levels and overall profitability being achieved by a seedstock herd. MateSel is a tool that enables breeders to optimise breeding outcomes by creating a suggested mating list based on a group of candidate sires and dams. The MateSel software was developed by Professor Brian Kinghorn at the University of New England and is used in the breeding of many species around the world including pigs, sheep and cattle.

"Tinder for Cows"

"The capability of the tool is beyond what mere mortals can do. It is a fast and effective tool for driving genetic improvement within a herd"

- Quotes from users of the MateSel service

Breeder Benefits

A recent survey of BREEDPLAN MateSel users revealed that the most popular benefits of using the MateSel service were:

  • To save significant time previously spent compiling mating lists.
  • To automatically consider genetic progress, genetic diversity and inbreeding when compiling mating lists together.

MateSel can also be used to make informed decisions about semen purchases, which bulls to use and/or purchase, animal selection or culling, mating group formation and mate allocations.

How it Works

MateSel creates a list of optimal matings for a group of candidate animals limited by parameters as set by the individual breeder. Using the MateSel software a breeder can:

  • Set parameters and constraints for the MateSel analysis such as the desired breeding objective (i.e. a target selection index) and the breeding strategy being targeted including “Diversity”, “Balanced” or “High Gain”.
  • Nominate a list of candidate sires and dams for the breeding program. This can range from a specific list of animals that are known to be available, to a broad list of potential animals for the breeding program.
  • Select a list of candidate females available for mating based on inventory lists, age groups, last calving and registration status.
  • Specify mating groups to suit their joining program including such things as heifer versus mature cow matings, and natural versus AI matings.
  • Set maximum usages for sires and minimum cow mob sizes for natural matings.

Once the MateSel analysis is completed based on the breeder specified parameters, a MateSel report (example MateSel Report) and suggested mating allocation list will be provided (example MateSel Mating List - csv file).

The MateSel report consists of several sections including:
1. Mating list sorted by sires.
2. Mating list sorted by dams.
3. Summary outcome statistics comparing dams, sires and progeny.
4. Graphs showing effect of MateSel strategy on BREEDPLAN EBVs and Indexes.
5. Graphs showing effect on inbreeding and age structure.

MateSel Analyses

There are two ways in which MateSel can be used to assist the mating decisions of a herd. These can be used together or separately as the user chooses.

Sire Scoping Analysis - The first MateSel analysis should be undertaken well before the mating is due to occur (e.g. 2 to 4 months). At this stage, the candidate dam list should be fairly fixed, however as many candidate sires as possible should be included (e.g. AI sires, yearling bulls, rising 2 year olds, current sires). MateSel will then assist you in choosing which sires you should attempt to access (e.g. purchase semen, select from your available yearling or rising 2 year old bulls, purchase from auction sales).

Mating Allocation Analysis – Once the specific sires that are available to the mating program are known (e.g. natural and/or AI), a second MateSel analysis should be undertaken. A similar dam candidate list will probably be used to the sire scoping analysis. This analysis can be undertaken closer to the date of mating and will provide a guide to the allocation of matings for the available sires and dams that will be used in the upcoming mating situation.

If required, a MateSel analysis can be undertaken as many times as needed for each mating situation. This could be just the once, simply being the mating allocation analysis described above or multiple times to help identify such things as which sires to access, which females to use in an AI program or which females should be joined to each backup bull. To learn more about optimising mating allocation, watch this 5 minute video.

Submitting MateSel Data

Firstly, you need to collate the information that is required by the MateSel analysis:

  1. Your MateSel parameters - These parameters are utilised within the MateSel analysis and describe the specifics of your breeding program and breeding objective. For example, the parameters include the “target” selection index, maximum number of matings for each sire, minimum cow mob size for natural matings, and breeding strategy to be used, ranging from “High Gain” to “Balanced” to “Diversity”.
  2. List of candidate sires and dams - This outlines all the sires and dams that are available for use within the breeding program. To be included in the MateSel analysis, all candidate sires and dams must be recorded with your Breed Society and have EBVs and selection indexes available. Candidate animals with a depth of pedigree will also be more useful to the MateSel analysis than those with limited pedigree. A whole herd dam list can be obtained simply by searching active cows for a herd on the BREEDPLAN database and copying the idents into the template.

Submit this information using the Excel submission template. Comprehensive instructions are included on how to complete the template.

Once you have completed the submission template, you need to submit it to BREEDPLAN via email matesel@breedplan.une.edu.au

The MateSel operator will then undertake a MateSel analysis for your herd based on the information supplied. Your MateSel results will be made available via the secure member login facility (as accessed from the Search & Login page on this website). Once available, you will be notified by email that your results are ready to view.

Eligibility

As MateSel optimises the rate of genetic progress based on a Selection Index, MateSel can only be utilised by herds that are:

  • A current member of BREEDPLAN.
  • A member of a Breed Society that has at least one selection index published.
  • A member of a Breed Society that has an ILR2 pedigree and performance database system.

Fees for this service may apply.

Contact

Your first point of contact regarding MateSel is the MateSel operator. They can be contacted via email or phone:
Email: matesel@breedplan.une.edu.au
Phone: +61 2 6773 3555

For general MateSel queries, you can also contact BREEDPLAN staff or the relevant SBTS or TBTS Technical Officer for your breed.