Monday, May 27, 2013

Angus Report: Identifying the Stars

Today on the Angus Report, Jena Thompson and I discuss using genomics to distinguish differences between full siblings and identify the superior animals at an earlier age.



Jena also mentions a new project at the University of Missouri in which we will sequence the genomes of approximately 150 bulls from 9 different breeds. From this research we will identify variants that reduce fertility and lead to cows not getting bred earlier in the breeding season.

How Risk Adverse Are You?

I just came across a great post by Allie Janson Hazell about risk tolerance and genetic testing on The Genoscape blog.

In several posts (such as this and most recently this) I've argued that livestock producers should use genomic-enhanced EPDs to reduce their risks. Rather than the risk of finding out about health issues, which is discussed on The Genoscape, in livestock production we are interested in financial risk. So how risk adverse are you?

To find out, head over to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension website and take their Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz.

In future posts I plan to discuss reasons other than risk management why genomic-enhanced EPDs are valuable.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Would be Crazy Not to Test!


I am in the process of purchasing a new house. In this process I am collecting as much information as possible to make an informed decision and reduce my risk. I've had the home inspected, which included looking at the roof, exterior, basement, crawl space, kitchen, bathrooms, electrical, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and vegetation. I've also paid for a radon inspection and a pest inspection. I've done all of this because this is a large investment and I want to avoid future headaches.

This winter and spring we have seen several bulls in various breeds sell for prices with six figures. Whenever I look at these bulls on the respective breed association websites, I am shocked that most of these bulls have parent average EPDs. These bulls have no production, progeny, or genomic information. Why does this surprise me?

If we think back a few years, we can identify a bull that sold for six figures at a national sale. At the time this bull was marketed, his parent average EPDs put him in the top 25% of his breed for an important trait. But, several calf crops later and a much more reliable estimate of his EPDs, this bull is now in the bottom 25% for that important trait. Genomic selection alleviates this problem!

Genomic selection and genomic-enhanced EPDs provide the same amount of information as about 10 to 20 progeny. The buyers of these six figure bulls could have collected much more data and significantly reduced their risk of making a poor purchasing decision. They could have demanded that the bull be tested with a genomic panel prior to the purchase. If the seller is getting six figures for a bull, I'm sure he can scrape up $85 for a genomic test.

When we purchase a house, we are making a decision that will affect us for years to come. When we purchase a bull, we are making a decision that will affect our herds for years to come. By purchasing bulls with genomic-enhanced EPDs buyers are getting a clearer picture of what they are actually purchasing. In my opinion, you would be crazy not to test!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Commercial Agriculture Profile

I was featured in the Spring 2013 issue of the MU Commercial Agriculture newsletter.
My favorite line from the interview:
"We are at a point where the technology used to analyze DNA is rapidly changing. The tools we use in animal breeding are also changing. My main focus will be to educate beef producers on how to utilize the new technologies to increase their profits."

Friday, May 10, 2013

New Price for Hereford GE-EPDs

Previously I discussed companies lowering prices for Angus genomic-enhanced EPD tests and a cost-sharing program for the American Hereford Association.
Now the American Hereford Association has decreased the cost for all animals to $85. From the Hereford eNews:

Price Change for DNA Testing

The American Hereford Association (AHA) has worked closely with GeneSeek Inc. and the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) to adopt a new pricing structure for genomic-enhanced expected progeny difference (GE-EPD), parentage and abnormality testing.
The new cost will be $85 and will be inclusive of all of testing except horned/polled (H/P), that cost will still be an additional $48.
This $15 savings will allow breeders the opportunity to do more comprehensive herd testing. The basic panel for parentage and abnormality testing is still available for $30 or $20 if you do 50 animals or more. The procedure is still the same and hair follicles from the tail are still the preferred method of DNA. You can find an instructional video for proper hair collection on the Hereford YouTube Channel.
For more about Hereford DNA testing download the DNA Testing Procedures Fact Sheet. To request DNA kits or for more information, contact Toni Shapiro at 816-842-3757 ortshapiro@hereford.org.
If you've not had a chance to check out the Hereford educational videos take time to visit the Hereford YouTube channel or Hereford.org and see what's available.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Diagnostic for Disease Susceptibility in Sheep

Here is an article about the discovery and utilization of genetic markers to reduce the susceptibility of sheep to ovine progressive pneumonia virus.
From Viral Infection in Sheep Linked to Gene:

"Producers could use the marker we’ve made available to make a flock genetically less susceptible to disease, and therefore, decrease the risk of animals becoming infected again over time," Leymaster says. 
The ultimate goal is to give producers tools that allow them to choose breeding stock that do not have genetic risk factors, he says, so they can reduce the prevalence of OPPV and eventually eradicate it from flocks. 
 "We don’t want to oversell these findings, but at the same time, we want producers to consider how they might use this to their advantage," Leymaster says. "We’re continuing our research and will be able to contribute additional information in the future. I’m optimistic that the industry will be able to successfully address this major disease problem." 
This is a great example of using genomics to meet a need of the industry and improve animal welfare.