Full disclosure….I am most certainly, no expert in the DNA arena. It is complicated and way above my pay grade. So I am sharing what I have learned from reading, and talking to guys that are experts.
I for one, believe it is clear that DNA testing will launch our industry forward at a rapid pace. DNA testing will, more and more, become a vital selection tool for both genetic and performance selection. It will save us YEARS that we have had to wait to see how the cattle actually performed. In the Angus business, the most popular test is a “50K” test done by Geneseek and Zoetis. This is a fairly pricy (over $100 a head) test, and it gives a wealth of information. Problem is, I am not convinced we are able to “mine” that info yet. Additionally, you are charged more money for tests for information that is already in the 50K panel (coat color, Horned/Polled). The 50K panel will identify coat color, HPS status, sire, and genetic defects carried in the Angus breed. And, DNA enhancement increases the predictability of EPD. However, I am not aware of any predictor of performance measurements that the 50K panel provides. It is probable that information is in the SNP’s but, AT THIS POINT, we don’t know how to identify those traits with any certainty.We have chosen a different route. We use a company named Quantam Genetics, based in Canada, for the reasons I am about to share. I will try to communicate all the tests we do, and why.
A little general information: Gathering DNA is a simple thing to do. A tail hair with follicle attached, is most convenient, and blood is another. We take tail hair at pre vaccination of weaner calves. Characteristics that are genetics are located on a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism or SNP (r
When we AI a female and put her with a cover bull, we simply have to document what day the calf arrives, and we can determine with accuracy, whether the calf is a result of the AI sire, or the cover bull…right? WRONG! Many studies have shown a large number (I can recall exactly, but it was big! Bulls jump fences (ours and our neighbors), in our breed, bull calves on the side of cows can be fertile enough to breed a cow or a contemporary. We prove by DNA the sires of all our calves. Just because the papers say so, it is not uncommon that you are not buying the genetics you think if the breeder does not DNA test the sire.
We only test HPS when there is the possibility to have a homozygous polled animal.