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Hereford and Red Angus Heifers Recruited for Genomics Research

The University of Missouri is recruiting 2,500 Hereford heifers and 2,500 Red Angus heifers to participate in a heifer puberty and fertility genomic research project. Heifers should be registered Hereford, registered Red Angus, or commercial Hereford or Red Angus. Hereford x Red Angus crossbred heifers targeted for the Premium Red Baldy Program would also be a good fit for the research project. Producers must be willing to work with a trained veterinarian to collect the following data: ReproductiveTract Scores collected at a pre-breeding exam 30 to 45 days prior to the start of the breeding season. PelvicMeasurements (height and width) collected at the same pre-breeding exam 30 to 45 days prior to the start of the breeding season. Pregnancy Determination Using Ultrasound reporting fetal age in days. Ultrasound will need to occur no later than 90 days after the start of the breeding season. In addition, heifers must have known birth dates and have weights recorded eithe

Innovative Genomic Predictions Require Innovative Marketing
Opinion Piece

From discussions with seedstock producers at the recent Hereford Education Forum, I realized producers need to use new marketing strategies when utilizing genomic predictions. If you purchase genomic predictions for your yearling bulls, but continue to market your bulls locally, you are not likely to have a favorable return on your investment. You will need to change one of two things: either your current customers will need to recognize the increased value of animals with genomic-enhanced EPDs or you will need to broaden the scope of your marketing. In the short run, I believe marketing to a wider customer base will be the easier solution. For example, a seedstock producer could market nationally any animals that rank in the top 10th percentile of the breed, while continuing to market his remaining crop locally. To reach this national market the producer will need to advertise in national publications, on their farm's website, through internet sales, or in national consignment sales, just to list a few examples.

The GeneMax™ (GMX) Elite Bred Heifer Sale is an excellent example of combining innovative genomic technology with innovative marketing. The genomic test is an integral part of the marketing program for this sale, so much so that they put it in the name! 

I will be interested to see the results from this sale. I think we will see a premium for heifers that score exceptionally well on the GeneMax test, and we will see average prices for heifers that had GeneMax scores below 50. In the future, I will also be interested to see if consignors are more stringent on GeneMax scores or if they let discerning buyers place a higher value on the heifers with better scores. Because reproduction is a lowly heritable trait (i.e. environment is more important than genetics for reproductive success), it is also important to use best practices, such as those outlined in the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer program when developing heifers.

To see a significant return on investment, early adopters of genomic prediction will need to employ similar marketing strategies. 

*Note: this is not an endorsement of the GeneMax™ test or the Elite Bred Heifer Sale. 


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