Saturday, August 18, 2012

Asking the Right Questions...

Drovers Cattle Network recently shared this video in which they discussed the recent changes at Igenity.  The conversation continued by discussing strategies (and products) to reduce risk and select the best replacement heifers and cows during drought conditions.  So, that got me interested in the products referred to by Dr. Jim Gibb.  A quick search lead me to here and here on Igenity's website.  At the end of the second link it says:
Have more questions?Let an expert give you the inside information —
So, what questions should beef producers be asking?  As we previously discussed, some beef genomic technologies return valuable information (tests for traits with genes of large effect, genomic selection) and some do not (gene tests predicting a complex trait with a small number of markers).  Following are some questions (and suggested actions) to get you started:

1. Has the test been validated by the NCBEC?  
    (If it is a new test the process of NCBEC validation has likely not been completed.  Or, better yet, visit NBCEC's site before making a phone call or sending an email.)
2. What were the results of the NCBEC validation study?
    (If a validation study has been done and the test was not validated, don't use it.)
3. Has the test been validated in-house?  What were the results?
4. Approximately how many DNA markers are included in the test?
    (If it is a quantitative or complex trait, most likely, the more the better.)
5. What breeds and populations were used in the design and validation of this test?
    (If the trait is complex and the breed (or a closely related breed) you use is not in the training or validation set, I would not purchase the test.)
6. How much of the trait's variation is explained by the test?
    (Obviously, the more the better.)

Do you have additional questions you think beef producers should be asking?
Please leave them in the comments section.

*Also, similar questions could be asked when finding a Personal Genomics provider.
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