Showing posts from April, 2014

Green Pastures, Genetics, and Environment

Yesterday my cows got turned out on grass. Despite it being a cloudy day, I think they were pretty happy!
Let me tell you the story of these three cows. Last August my mother brought three of her two-year-old cows to Missouri. In New Mexico they have been struggling with drought, so the cows would benefit from some extra feed. And they did. In the first three months their body condition score increased by one (almost two) units. But, then my pastures ran out of grass, so I started feeding hay, and I started to observe big differences between the cows. I started to notice their feet were sore, and I soon realized I was dealing with fescue toxicosis. Two of the three responded rapidly to 20% protein cube supplementation, but the third one never did. So, I have made a selection decision, and this fall after she weans her calf, the fescue sensitive cow will be culled from my herd.

In a previous post, one commenter mentioned gene-by-environment interactions. In my case, my cow likely has a…

Technology Lag: We Don't Have Time

From Shauna Hermel's Twitter feed, I came across this article about David Buchanan's talk at the 2013 BIF Research Symposium and Convention. Buchanan said,
There is a sizable investment being made in agricultural research, which should result in new technologies, but it takes time for development and adoption, and then for the benefits to be realized. Historically, it takes about 30 years. We don’t have 30 years. I also see technology adoption as a major shortcoming of the beef industry. This will be a continued theme of this blog and my extension program.

But, in this post I want to discuss the unresolved concern raised in Troy Smith's article. He quotes Buchanan as saying, "“We’ve done pretty well, but we could do better. But better selection tools just get us into trouble faster if we aren’t selecting for the right things.”

Yet, the article does not suggest what are the "right things". In your experience and based on scientific information, what are the ri…

Use Genomics to Maximize Dairy-Beef Crossbreeding

In the March-April 2014 issue of Best of the West, there is an article about producing beef cattle by breeding dairy cows to beef bulls. At the Midwest American Society of Animal Science meetings in Des Moines, Iowa, Kent Anderson of Zoetis discussed this practice and how genomics plays a part in selecting the animals used in these crosses. A dairy producer can use a genomic prediction test, such as Zoetis' CLARIFIDE®, to rank the cows in their herd. The producer can breed the top portion of their cows to dairy sires to produce replacement heifers. The use of sexed semen increases the efficiency of this strategy, as ~90% of these matings result in heifer pregnancies. Then the producer can breed the bottom portion of the cows to a beef sire to produce calves that will be marketed as beef feeder cattle. It is important to select beef bulls that excel at rib eye area and yield grade, as these are the main weaknesses of dairy steers. Research is underway to develop genomic EPDs for fe…