PEDIGREE DATABASE ON LINEBy Jonathan Long

 A PEDIGREE DATABASE with the potential to revolutionise record keeping and performance recording in both pedigree and commercial UK sheep and beef sectors has been unveiled by three leading breed societies.

BASCO, the company behind the new database, is a collaboration between the Suffolk and British Texel Sheep Societies and the British Limousin Cattle Society. It will record pedigree registrations for all three of the participating breed societies and will in time become web-enabled, allowing breeders to complete animal registrations themselves online.

Speaking at the launch in London last Friday (Nov 19) Sonia Phippard, DEFRA”s director of sustainable agriculture and livestock products, said she believed the database would become a major tool for those keen to take their breeding forward to support commercial producers.

“We are keen to see the needs of the UK industry met by home-based genetic recording and evaluation systems,” she added

A view echoed by MLC sheep and beef technical manager Duncan Pullar, when he announced that MLC Signet would be using the BASCO database to handle data for its genetic evaluation programmes for sheep and beef.

 “The program will be used as a platform for storing pedigree data for all breeds,” said Mr Pullar. There had also already been interest from several other breed societies from many species wanting to use the system, said British Texel Sheep Society chief executive Steve McLean.

“While the system has been designed for sheep and beef breeds, however, there is no reason why it can”t be adapted for other species.”

Key features of the database include the ability for users to apply for cattle passports online through a direct link to BCMS and for flock and herd health treatments to be recorded directly on to the database.

“All health treatments can be recorded, either for a batch of animals, or for individual animals.”

In future, the database would be able to record genetic markers, such as meat quality and lamb survival as they became available, said SAC”s Mike Coffey, who helped develop the database. “It has the ability to record what we don”t yet know about.”

“But the database as it stands is only stage one of the developments,” said British Limousin Cattle Society chief executive Ian Kerr. “The next stage will include adding a facility for prospective purchasers to search for animals by pedigree details, such as sire or dam, or by other information, including estimated breeding value or owner.”