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Speaker profiles

Experts in genetics

The International Beef Cattle Genetics Conference, hosted by Bayer Australia Ltd and Bioniche, will bring together industry leaders from across Australia and around the world to discuss all of the latest technological advances which will deliver improved productivity to the beef industry in the future.

The prelimary program for the conference is available here (note: the program is subject to change).To attend the conference download the program and registration form here, or you can register online here.

Guest speakers featured on the conference program are profiled below.

Dr Peter Barnard

Dr Peter Barnard, General Manager, Trade and Economic Services for MLA


In this and previous roles Peter has been closely involved in many major market access issues that have confronted the Australian meat industry over the past two and a half decades – the opening up of the Japan and Korean beef markets, the Section 201 lamb case against the US, the conclusion of the WTO Uruguay Round and the Australia / US Free Trade Agreement, to list a few.  The role also involves delivering market information to the Australian beef and sheepmeat industries and over sighting the planning of MLA programs. 

Dr Barnard previously worked as a tutor, lecturer and research fellow at Adelaide and Macquarie Universities.  He was employed for five years as a research scientist by the Australian Road Research Board.  Dr Barnard was also employed for a time as the Director for Transport and Telecommunications for the National Farmer's Federation.

Dr Barnard has a PhD in Economics from Adelaide University.  Economic papers authored or co-authored by Dr Barnard have appeared in a number of international journals.  Dr Barnard continues to serve on several academic, transport and agricultural industry bodies.

Dr Mike Goddard

Dr Mike Goddard, Professorial Fellow in Animal Genetics at the Faculty of Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne

Dr Goddard has held his current position, a joint appointment with the Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, since 1998.

Dr Goddard graduated with a B.V.Sc (Hons) from the University of Melbourne in 1972. He simultaneously undertook an advanced mathematics course during his period of undergraduate study to stimulate his interest in animal breeding. He completed his PhD studies in 1977, also at the University of Melbourne, before accepting a position as lecturer in biometry at the Graduate School of Tropical Veterinary Science, James Cook University of North Queensland.

From 1983 to 1993, Professor Goddard was Senior Geneticist and then Director of the Livestock Improvement Unit at Department of Agriculture in Victoria, before accepting the position as Director of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit at University of New England in Armidale, where he remained until his current appointment at University of Melbourne. In 1990, he undertook a period as Visiting Professor at University of Guelph in Canada.

Dr Goddard's research accomplishments include development of breeding objectives and selection indexes, estimation of genetic parameters for traits of economic significance and development of genetic evaluation methodology for international comparison of sires and design of breeding programs.

His current research in his role as leader of DPI Victoria's and the Beef CRC's genomics projects focuses on identification of bovine genes for use by dairy farmers and beef producers, with his personal contribution to these efforts being on developments of statistical methodology and the practical application of these methodologies for gene discovery.

Professor Goddard's research aimed at the genetic improvement of dairy and beef cattle and pigs and the application of genomics to genetic improvement of these species, has had broad application and very wide recognition throughout the world.

In 1999, his research achievements were recognised by receipt of the Urrbrae Award for Contribution to Australian Agriculture. In 2003, Mike was presented with the American Dairy Science Association's International Dairy Production Award sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Research Association at the ADSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona (USA). 

Raysildo Lôbo

Raysildo Barbosa Lôbo, Senior Professor in the University of São Paulo, and President of the Brazilian Association of Farmers and Researchers (ANCP)

A graduate of Veterinary Medicine in the State University of Ceara (1971), he also has Master in Biological Sciences (Genetics), University of Sao Paulo (1974), achieved PhD in Biological Sciences (Genetics), University of São Paulo (1976), and acquired Post-Doc at the University of Florida (1978-79, 1986-87).

He is a former Dean for Research and Graduate Courses in the University of Mato Grosso do Sul (2006-2007) and has 40 years of experience in developing application in Animal Breeding in Animal Breeding and Reproductive Biotechnology.

Since 1998 he has been the coordinator of the Brazilian Program in Animal Breeding of Zebu Cattle, and has written more than 200 scientific international publication in several journals. He has supervised 95 masters and PhD graduate students, and Postdoctoral.

Dorian Garrick

Dorian Garrick, Jay Lush endowed Chair in Animal Breeding & Genetics at Iowa State University

Dorian Garrick's current post, which he has held since 2007, follows five years at Colorado State University and 15 years at Massey University where he holds the A.L. Rae Chair. He received a First Class Honours degree in Agricultural Science from Massey University and a PhD from Cornell University. 

Dorian has been integrally involved in the development and implementation of national animal evaluation programs, performance recording databases and breeding schemes. His recent work has focused on exploiting genomic information for animal improvement. Dorian views animal breeding in a systems context, involving the integration of knowledge and understanding of business goals, production systems, processing and marketing, in concert with quantitative and molecular genetics.

Dorian has worked with a variety of genetic improvement programs in addition to dairy cattle, including beef cattle, sheep, elk, pigs, chickens, and tree breeding. Dorian enjoys working with enthusiastic producer and industry groups that seek to include animal breeding approaches in the attainment of their farm business goals. 

Dorian is Executive Director of the US National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium.

Dr Gabriel Bó

Gabriel Bó, President and Director of Research and Post-graduate training of the Instituto de Reproducción Animal Córdoba, Argentina

Dr Gabriel Bó, D.V.M., M.V.Sc., Ph.D. is currently President and Director of Research and Post-graduate training of the Instituto de Reproducción Animal Córdoba (IRAC) and Director of the Specialization and Masters programs on Bovine Reproduction at the National University of Cordoba.

Dr Bó has been working on applied research and his main interests are follicular development, superovulation, recipient management, estrus synchronization, and embryo development and freezing.

He is not only involved with research and teaching, as IRAC is a client-focused research and service institute (through the company Biogen Argentina SA) he practices embryo transfer and provides fixed-time artificial insemination services to producers in the Central and North part of Argentina.

The programs developed under the supervision of Dr Bó, have been regarded as one of the major contributions to the application of fixed-time artificial insemination programs in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and other countries. 

David Johnston

David Johnston, principal research scientist and program manager of beef genetics research, Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), University of New England

David Johnston is responsible for overseeing beef genetics research at AGBU, particularly the research and development of the BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation system.

David has also been a part of all three Beef CRCs where he has been involved in the design and running of various breeding projects and has been responsible for many of the genetic analyses. His expertise is mainly in the use of mixed model estimation and prediction procedures for beef cattle traits and the implementation of this research into BREEDPLAN. 

A major focus of his work has been the research and inclusion of several new traits into the genetic evaluation system. These have included important developments in female reproduction traits, mature cow weight, abattoir carcase and meat quality traits, net feed intake and more recently research into the incorporation of DNA marker data into estimated breeding values. 

Richard Eldershaw

Richard Eldershaw, Livestock Manager, Rangers Valley Cattle Station P/L, Glen Innes, NSW

Richard Eldershaw grew up on the family farm near Wagga Wagga, NSW. After two years as farm hand, he joined one of the pastoral houses now absorbed into Landmark. 

Richard was an auctioneer and branch manager at several branches in NSW, and was offered the job at Rangers Valley in 1989. He has a Bachelor of Business from Charles Sturt University with majors in administration and agriculture.

Rangers Valley is a 32,000 head feedlot specialising in long feeding of Angus and Wagyu cattle for domestic and export markets. The feedlot is owned by the Marubeni Corporation of Japan and was established in 1988 in response to the liberalisation of the Japanese beef market.

Rangers Valley has always understood the significance of genetics in achieving better results in the feedlot and chillers, and tries to work closely with suppliers to improve feeder steer quality.

Nick Cameron

Nick Cameron, Manager of Nindooinbah

Educated at Marcus Oldham Farm Management College, Nick Cameron has worked on several leading agricultural properties.

In 1999 he developed his own property, utilising waste water from Roma, Qld. In 2005, he sold the property to Coles supply chain provider, Australian Country Choice for a district record price.

In 2006 he was instrumental in the design and development of Nindooinbah and its breeding operation. He managed a contract which delivered more than 4000 embryo transfer calves to Australian Agricultural Company from 2007 to 2010.

He has also secured and delivered contracts with leading Australian pastoral companies, exported embryos to Argentina, and runs a large scale Angus, Ultrablack and Brangus stud and seedstock operation.

Mr Cameron has formed relationships with the University of Queensland, Bioniche and Bayer in developing ways of implementing successful large scale reproductive programs. He is currently working closely with Angus Australia in developing performance-recorded Angus-cross cattle, suited for the northern beef producer.

Christian Duff

Christian Duff, Manger of two divisions within the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) based at the University of New England, Armidale

One Division, the International Livestock Resource and Information Centre (ILRIC), provides independent certification of beef breeding animals for live export purposes based on the Australian Cattle Genetics Export Agency (ACGEA) standards. This certification process is important for the live export of Australian beef breeding cattle into markets such as Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and China.

Christian also manages the Beef Breeding Extension Division within ABRI. This Division involves the Southern and Tropical Beef technology Services projects (SBTS & TBTS) which jointly provides hands-on technical support for beef breeding genetic technologies to 24 Australian Beef Breed Associations.

These projects are co-funded by the Breed Associations, Meat & livestock Australia (MLA) and ABRI.  Extension activities are also regularly undertaken internationally such as in New Zealand. 

Dr Peter Parnell

Dr Peter Parnell, Chief Executive Officer of the Angus Society of Australia, Armidale, NSW

Dr Parnell commenced in this role in May 2009, following an extensive career as a Research Scientist and Research Leader with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Peter has over 30 years experience in research, extension and application of genetic technology in the beef industry.  His major research interests focused on genetic improvement of maternal productivity and feed efficiency in beef cattle. 

Peter played key roles in communication and extension within the Beef CRC where he managed the “CRC Adoption” project for five years. In his current role, Peter oversees all technical, marketing and extension activities conducted by the Angus Society of Australia.  

He has a strong passion for the application of innovation in beef industry.  He has a renowned reputation as an excellent communicator of the application genetic principles for enhancing herd performance and profitability.

Wayne Pitchford

Wayne Pitchford, Associate Professor teaching Animal Breeding and Genetics at The University of Adelaide

Wayne graduated with B. Agricultural Science with Honours from Adelaide in 1987.  He completed his PhD in Sydney at CSIRO Animal Production through UNSW in 1992. 

His teaching also includes Livestock Production and Meat Science. He has supervised 22 Honours and 35 postgraduate students and has published 51 refereed papers.  

His research includes gene discovery and quantitative genetic approaches to improving beef cattle. He is currently a program leader of feed efficiency and maternal productivity in the CRC for Beef Genetic Technologies. 

His seminar will cover recent results from both studies with intensive research herds and working with 7400 stud cows in seed-stock herds. In addition to the quantitative results, he will present outcomes from a social science study with the cooperating breeders.

Steve Skinner

Steve Skinner, manager of the International Beef Recording Scheme, Agricultural Business Research Institute, Armidale

Steve is a graduate of the University of New England with training in agricultural economics, animal breeding and commercial law.

In his current role, Steve is responsible for ABRI’s services with beef breed associations and other corporate breeding groups from within Australia and overseas. Steve also has responsibilities for the provision of the BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation service. 

As well as running a number of GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses, Steve coordinates the routine operational management of a diverse team who are involved in the processing of BREEDPLAN records and who provide support and results from BREEDPLAN and related technologies.

Steve is also the Executive Director of the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders’ Association Inc. ARCBA is the peak industry body for the Australian beef cattle seedstock industry and, as such, provides leadership, direction and education to its members and works to improve the Australian seedstock industry environment and Australia’s international cattle seedstock image.

Steve has had practical experience in running sheep and cattle properties and has worked in a professional capacity for the beef and dairy industries. 

Don Nicol

Don Nicol, cattle breeding and genetics consultant, Breedlink Pty Ltd, Brisbane

First formed in 1986, Don's company Breedlink operates throughout Australia and internationally. 

Although born and educated in Scotland, Don managed Brahman cattle ranches in Venezuela for six years.

He was a regional beef adviser with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries for 10 years.

He is credited with the naming of BREEDPLAN, that he introduced to the Australian beef industry in 1985, when he was the National Coordinator of Extension for the National Beef Recording Scheme.

For a decade he was the breed development consultant to the Angus Society of Australia. He has a diverse group of clients including a group of Angus breeders in Argentina that utilise BREEDPLAN.

His business regularly sources semen and embryos globally for clients as well as exporting genetics to many countries.

Dr Arthur Rickards OAM

Dr Arthur Rickards OAM, livestock industry consultant and co-chairman of the International Beef Cattle Genetic conference at Beef Australia 2012

Arthur Rickards holds an honours degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Queensland and post graduate qualifications in Agricultural Economics from the University of New England, which also awarded him the title of Distinguished Graduate Fellow in 2011. 

He established the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) in 1970 and built it from a three-person team to a 180-person team on his retirement as Managing Director in July 2011. 

Arthur played a key role in having ABRI’s livestock information technology used in 20 countries. 

He was Manager of Australia’s National Beef Recording Scheme from 1972-2011, Executive Director of Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association from 1979-2010 and a Director of the International Livestock Resources and Information Centre (ILRIC) from 2002 to 2011. ILRIC provides certification of seedstock cattle for export.  

Arthur was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1996 for his contributions to the livestock industries.

Burnett Joyce

Principal of Gyranda Santa Gertrudis, Theodore, Qld

Burnett Joyce has spent a lifetime working with stud and commercial beef cattle in sub-tropical Central Queensland, including 40 years as the owner managing Gyranda Santa Gertrudis Stud.

Gyranda has been recording with Breedplan since 1982. The Gyranda herd is fully recorded for a range of traits, such as fertility, growht, carcass and docility, and was directly involved in the commercialisation of parent verification using DNA (this is used extensively in the Gyranda stud.)

Burnett was on the advisory board of Beef Co-operative Research Centre (CRC1) as a producer member and bred fully recorded cattle for CRC for five years.

Burnett has travelled extensively through the major beef cattle producing countries of the world, studying their systems and speaking to industry people. He is an international judge of repute and has judged at most Royal Shows in Australia, across a range of beef breeds. He is a regular speaker at educational days run by beef industry organisations.

Gyranda has been exporting semen for many years and has its Santa Gertrudis genetics in approximately 10 countries (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Cambodia and Vanuatu).

Direct contact has been maintained with research and educational institutions. Gyranda has been a co-operator in many research events that have provided valuable breeding and management technology to the beef industry.

Burnett and Louise Joyce act as hosts to students from many parts of the world, as well as Australia, to help broaden the practical side of their education.

Nigel Alexander

Chief Executive Officer of The North Australian Pastoral Company Pty Limited (NAPCO)

Founded in 1877, NAPCO runs 200,000 head of cattle across 14 stations in Queensland and the Northern Territory covering 5.8 million hectares.

NAPCO is a vertically integrated beef operation which breeds, grows and backgrounds its own composite cattle, the majority of which are finished in its own state of the art feedlot.

Nigel Alexander was raised on a cattle and grain property near Dalby on Queensland’s Darling Downs. He holds a Bachelor of Business degree from the University of Southern Queensland, a Masters degree in Applied Finance from Macquarie University and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Nigel is a past director of both Agforce Cattle and The Cattle Council of Australia and has been a member of several beef industry committees.


Andrew Byrne

Andrew Byrne, Technical Officer with Southern Beef Technology Services 

Andrew Byrne is based in Armidale and has been a Technical Officer with Southern Beef Technology Services (SBTS) since 2005.

SBTS is a joint initiative of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Agriculturel Business Research Institute (ABRI), and 14 cattle breed societies, and provides ongoing assistance to cattle producers in Southern Australia regarding the use and understanding of the different genetic technologies that are available (e.g. BREEDPLAN, selection indices, DNA based yools, internet solutions, TakeStock, DataAudit and MateSelect). 

Prior to joining the SBTS team, Andrew worked within the BREEDPLAN team at ABRI. Andrew’s primary role was as a BREEDPLAN Consultant for the Murray Grey, Brahman, South Devon, Devon, Red Poll and Senepol breeds within Australia.

Andrew was also responsible for performing GROUP BREEDPLAN analyses for several Breed Societies, the training of BREEDPLAN staff and in the extension of BREEDPLAN and related technologies both in Australia and New Zealand.

Andrew originates from the Albury district in Southern NSW, where his family runs a superfine Merino and cropping enterprise.

Craig Huffhines

Craig Huffhines, Chief Executive Officer of the American Hereford Association (AHA)  

The AHA has a national membership of more than 5000 Hereford breeders that rely on the association for services in the area of genetic research and performance testing, information technology, marketing and advertising services, as well as supply chain involvement in a growing Certified Hereford Beef ® brand beef program.

Under Huffhines tenure, the American Hereford Association has implemented several strategies that have vastly improved the Hereford breed in America.  In fact, in the last five years, the Hereford breed has improved its market share for Hereford range bulls by more than 65% through efforts in the areas of product improvement and marketability.

Huffhines has served in several leadership capacities within the industry including President of the National Pedigreed Livestock Council, President of the US Beef Breeds Council, and Chairman of the Emerging Technology Committee for the Beef Improvement Federation.

Jack Allen

Jack Allen, Technical Director, ABRI

Jack Allen has 30 years' experience in the livestock recording industry and has played a leading role in the development and commercialisation of BREEDPLAN since its inception in the early 1980s.

Jack has extensive international experience developing and implementing genetic evaluation and pedigree/performance recording systems.

He was Project Leader for the ACIAR-sponsored “Genetic Improvement of Thailand’s Beef Cattle and Buffalo” project, was part of the AusAID team for capacity development in Vietnam and has helped implement BREEDPLAN in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Brian Burns

Brian Burns, senior research fellow at UQ, CAS & QAAFI 

Brian is a graduate of the School of Veterinary Science (SVSc), The University of Queensland (UQ), St Lucia (BVSc); School of Veterinary and Biomedical Science (SVSc&BSc), James Cook University (JCU), Townsville (MSc, Animal Breeding and Genetics) and the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture, Texas A&M University (TAMU), College Station, Texas, USA (PhD, Quantitative/ Molecular Genetics).

He commenced his career in large animal private veterinary practice throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory and had and still has a special interest in the development and management of extensive tropical beef cattle breeding programs throughout northern Australia.

He has held roles with the Queensland DPI&F and DEEDI for 28 years as a research scientist in the areas of Genetics, Genomics, Animal Breeding and Reproduction in tropical beef cattle in northern Australia, South-East Asia (ACIAR and AusAID) and the USA. Brian has also participated in genetics and genomic research activities in the last three Beef CRCs. In 2010, Brian was seconded to UQ, CAS, QAAFI, Rockhampton as a Senior Research Fellow.

Rob Banks

Rob Banks, Meat and Livestock Australia

Rob has been with MLA and before that Meat Resource Corporation since 1989, working initially in the field of genetic improvement programs, but for the last 10 years responsible for on-farm R&D for Southern Australia. 

In this role he has helped build and maintain a focus on R&D that simultaneously addresses productivity and environmental outcomes, as well as involving farmers in the development and implementation of new technologies wherever possible. 

Brad Crook

Brad Crook, Agricultural Business Research Institute

Brad joined ABRI in 2000 and is a member of the BREEDPLAN Technical team.  

His primary responsibilities involve the testing and implementation of enhancements to the BREEDPLAN analytical software, the provision of routine BREEDPLAN genetic evaluations for a number of beef cattle breeds (both domestically and overseas) and the provision of follow-up technical and diagnostic support to BREEDPLAN clients.

In terms of his international responsibilities, Brad provides technical support to BREEDPLAN clients in North America, South America and Southern Africa, as well as engaging in contract R&D and customized genetic analyses on their behalf.

Given his particular interest in the development of multi-country genetic evaluations, he is currently responsible for the implementation and routine undertaking of the Pan American Hereford evaluation involving the Hereford populations in the USA, Canada, Uruguay and Argentina.

He is also currently investigating the across-country correlations in a range of performance traits for the Brahman breed, to assess the opportunity for implementing an across-country genetic evaluation for that breed.

Similar developments are also being considered for other Bos indicus and tropically adapted breeds represented by ABRI’s international BREEDPLAN clients.

Sophia Edwards

Sophia Edwards (nee Butler), Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland

Sophia grew up on a commercial and beef stud stock property in the Hunter Valley, NSW. It was here Sophia developed a keen interest for artificial breeding in beef cattle.

Sophia completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons 1) at the University of Sydney and then continued her studies by completing a PhD at The University of Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science in Ovarian Function in Bos Indicus heifers treated to synchronised ovulation. 

Sophia is currently a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, managing a project funded by Meat and Livestock Australia on ‘strategies to increase the adoption of AI in northern Australian tropical beef genotype herds'.

Murray Scholz

Murray Scholz, Managing Director of Agricultural Business Research Institute

Murray has had more than 30 years of commercial experience in software development, the last 25 of which have been in the livestock industries.  He has extensive overseas experience and has developed and installed major systems for ABRI's clients throughout Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and the UK

He has played a leading role in the development of systems for various livestock species in Australia, and has been instrumental in the development of this software for a world-wide audience (now installed and used by more than 130 Breed Associations).

ABRI’s various breed register systems have been developed to provide a close integration of pedigree, performance recording, membership, accounting, show results and other relevant data.

From 1993 to 2011 he served as Associate Director, ABRI, also responsible for the supervision and management of ABRI's 20-person software development team, and was appointed Managing Director of ABRI in August 2011.

Simon Walton

Simon Walton, managing director Australian Reproductive Technologies

After graduating from Agricultural Science at Sydney University, Simon pursued a career in human IVF and became a renowned international IVF consultant working in North and South America, Europe and SE Asia.

Upon his return to Australia, he combined his 15 years  experience in human assisted reproductive technologies with cutting edge cattle IVF technology from Vitrogen in Brazil to create Australian Reproductive Technologies (ART) in 2007.

Since this time he has been Managing Director of ART, which now supplies a wide range of reproductive services to the Australian cattle industry. 

Simon continues to provide international human IVF consultancies and has a strong interest in endangered animal conservation.  

ART currently has collaborations in Australia with University of Central Queensland, the University of South Australia and University of Queensland.

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