Thursday, March 2, 2017

Second Youth Leadership Academy seeks applications

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Applications are being accepted for the second annual University of Missouri Division of Animal Sciences Youth Leadership Academy.
Twenty high school students with an interest in agriculture and the livestock industry will attend the May 31-June 3 event at MU’s Animal Science Research Center.
“The intensive four-day event focuses on increasing knowledge of Missouri’s diverse and dynamic livestock industry, as well as building participants’ leadership and communication skills,” says Marcia Carlson Shannon, MU Extension swine specialist.
Students receive personalized instruction and interaction with counselors, professors and livestock industry leaders. They learn leadership skills, tour leading agricultural operations and businesses, and discuss current issues regarding livestock production, Shannon says.
Applications are available at MU Extension centers in each county and from FFA advisers. MU Extension, MU Division of Animal Sciences and Friends of the MU Animal Science Youth Leadership Academy sponsor the event.
Contact MU Extension livestock specialist David Hoffman at hoffmand@missouri.edu or Shannon at carlsonm@missouri.edu for more information.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

2017 North Carolina Cattlemen's Convention

I had the privilege of speaking during the North Carolina Cattlemen's Convention. Thanks to Daniel Poole and the North Carolina Cattlemen's staff for bringing me out.
Below are my slides.



Midwest producers, if you would like to learn more about these topics (and many more) please attend one of our five ReproGene Workshops held across Missouri.


ReproGene Workshops: High-quality, profitable beef made possible by genetic tests

Five meetings explain options.

Making quality beef for more farm profits becomes predictable by using genetic testing.
Meetings across Missouri will review current breeding technology and explain new genomic tools.
University of Missouri Extension specialists plan meetings in Maryville, Kingsville, Macon, Springfield and Jackson.
The five meetings are called "ReproGene: Taking the next steps in beef cattle reproduction and genetics."
Missouri herd owners can learn to produce more profitable cattle with better genetics. EPDs, expected progeny differences, guided improvement.
With genomic testing, all heifers in a herd can be DNA-tested. This provides accurate predictions of future calf performance.
Now producers can use genetic information on the male and female side of the herd, Decker says.
On the reproduction side, Dave Patterson will tell of new research that offers better conception rates from artificial insemination (AI). Split-time AI gets more cows pregnant.
Also coming is the use of sex-sorted semen. This allows making heifers or bulls. The sex can be set before insemination.
Many new tools are available on the genetic side, Decker said. Mostly, the tests are breed-specific. Different tests are used for registered and commercial herds. However, some tests work on crossbred or mixed-breed cattle.
DNA samples can come from blood drawn from a calf’s ear or from the root bulb from tail hair. Many producers use convenient tissue sampling units that take a punch from the ear.
New technology allows breeding higher-value animals, selecting traits that improve pregnancy rates and carry through to final product at the packing plant.
To gain full advantage of the advances will take more attention to marketing of cattle. Further, genetic predictions can actually be used to place a value on the calf crop. Now, the producer can get paid for the genetic merit of their cattle through various programs.
Those attending can start on being a step ahead in building profits in their beef herds. As cattle prices fall, quality premiums gain value. Efficiency improves and adds sustainability.
Options will be explained in the three-hour sessions. A meal will be served at each location.
Meeting places, times and contacts:

  • March 7, Maryville, 5:30-9 p.m. Northwest Technical School. AmieSchleicher, Rock Port, 660-744-6231.
  • March 9, Kingsville, 5-8:30 p.m., Kingsville Livestock Auction. DavidHoffman, Harrisonville, 816-380-8460.
  • March 11, Macon, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Floral Hall, Macon County Park, South Highway 63. Anita Snell, Milan, 660-265-4541; Daniel Mallory, New London, 573-985-3911.
  • March 16, Springfield, 4-8:30 p.m., Springfield Livestock Marketing Center. Eldon Cole, Mount Vernon, 417-466-3102; Andy McCorkill, Buffalo, 417-345-7551.
  • March 28, Jackson, 5:30-9 p.m., MU Extension Center in Cape Girardeau County. Erin Larimore, Jackson, 573-243-3581.

Organizers ask for advance registration to plan meals and handouts. Details available from local organizers.

Special thanks to our sponsors:
  • Zoetis
  • Neogen-GeneSeek
  • Select Sires
  • International Genetic Solutions
  • Method Genetics
  • MFA Inc.
  • Beefmaster Breeders United
  • Genex
  • ABS




For more than 100 years, University of Missouri Extension has extended university-based knowledge beyond the campus into all counties of the state. In doing so, extension has strengthened families, businesses and communities.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Red Angus DNA Scores Align with Carcass Results

Denton, Texas — Cattlemen and women frequently ask if DNA scores are truly predictive of phenotypic results. A recent study completed by the Red Angus Association gathered DNA data on a set of Red Angus calves and followed the cattle through harvest, collecting phenotypic data. The results illustrated the Igenity® DNA scores accurately predicted carcass weight, marbling score and overall carcass value.

The cattle were raised and owned by Bob and Elaine Yackley of Onida, South Dakota, and fed at a custom feed yard. A total of 91 head of 2015-born steers comprised the group that was DNA tested with Igenity Silver and followed through harvest to obtain carcass data on each individual animal.

The top 25 head with the highest DNA scores for Average Daily Gain (ADG) and marbling were compared to the bottom 25 head, which exhibited the lowest combined DNA scores for the same two traits. Summarized results for the two groups are shown in the table.

This comparative analysis reveals that the top-DNA-scoring steers produced heavier carcass weights as a result of faster rates of gain (21-pound advantage). They also had higher average marbling scores and higher quality grades, with notably more upper-two-thirds Choice grade carcasses.




Even in a softened fed-cattle market, the difference in value between the two groups was $50.60 per head favoring the high-DNA-scoring steers. Weight and marbling make a big difference when selling cattle on a grid.

“These cattle had the right combinations of genetics and management in addition to being fed to the correct endpoint,” explained Gary Fike, RAAA director of commercial marketing. “The fact that out of the 50 head in this comparison, there was only one Yield Grade 4 in the low-DNA group and none among the top-DNA steers, is a testament to that.”

Fike, who organized and conducted the field study, further noted that these results demonstrate how DNA can be successfully used in commercial operations. “This is real-world data,” he said. “By using DNA testing and eliminating low-scoring animals for the traits of interest, producers can be confident they are building superior genetic value into their herds. That is why we recommend testing all replacement heifer candidates and culling low-scoring females before breeding."

The Red Angus Association of America serves the beef industry by enhancing and promoting the competitive advantages of Red Angus and Red Angus-influenced cattle. RAAA provides commercial producers with the most objectively described cattle in the industry by seeking and implementing new innovative technologies based on sound scientific principles that measure traits of economic importance. For more information, visit redangus.org.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

AgFRONT: The Path To A Successful Technology Commercialization

By Elisa Marques

Over the last 15 years, I have seen successful launches and some real flops in the path to genomics and biotechnology commercialization.

If I were to think about the times we were successful, I would say that in almost all of those cases, we had mastered every single aspect of:


  1. Knowing Our Industry’s Players
  2. Understanding Our Audience
  3. Building a Team of Trusted Advisors

The examples mentioned here are specific to the livestock industry, but the strategy itself goes well beyond this industry.

For the full article visit the AgFRONT blog.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

eBEEF.org Hair shedding scores: A tool to select heat tolerant cattle


I have published a new fact sheet at eBEEF.org, titled "Hair shedding scores: A tool to select heat tolerant cattle."
Hair shedding scores are an easy and effective way to measure cattle’s ability to cope with heat stress. In this fact sheet, learn the how, when, and why of hair shedding scores.

As part of our work in matching a cow's genetics to her environment we have recruited 8,000 cattle to participate in a hair shedding genomic project. Producers collected hair shedding scores on their cattle and are sending us DNA samples for genomic testing.

This work was supported by the USDA-NIFA [grant number 2016-68004-24827, Identifying Local Adaptation and Creating Region-Specific Genomic Predictions in Beef Cattle].

Monday, January 9, 2017

Brangus Journal: Using Genomics in Your Herd

My second piece on genomic prediction was published in the Brangus Journal back in December.

The Dance Steps of Genomics Part II: Using Genomics in Your Herd

This piece discusses how we get started with genomic testing. What animals should we DNA test and when should we test them?

The first article in the series is available here

What do you think of the article? As always, your feedback is welcome.