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Dr. Jamie Courter is your Mizzou Beef Genetics Extension Specialist

By Jared E. Decker Many of you have probably noticed that things have been a lot less active on the A Steak in Genomics™   blog, but you probably haven't known why. In January 2021, I was named the Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics at Mizzou, and I now focus on research, with a little bit of teaching. I no longer have an extension appointment. But, with exciting news, the blog is about to become a lot more active! Jamie Courter began as the new MU Extension state beef genetics specialist in the Division of Animal Sciences on September 1, 2023. I have known Jamie for several years, meeting her at BIF when she was a Masters student. I have been impressed by Jamie in my interactions with her since that time.  Dr. Courter and I have been working closely together the last 6 weeks, and I am excited to work together to serve the beef industry for years to come! Jamie holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from North Carolina State University and earned a master's degree in animal

Angus Only No More!
Maternal Edge Female Profile, Igenity Gold and Silver Profiles Are Released

Previously, when I spoke with commercial producers about genomic predictions for their heifers, I talked about two products, the GeneMax Focus and the GeneMax Advantage tests marketed by Zoetis. This has now changed.

GeneMax Focus and GeneMax Advantage

Of course, genomic predictions for seedstock cattle have been available for a large number of breeds, including Angus, Red Angus, Simmental, Hereford, Limousin, Gelbvieh, Santa Gertrudis, and Charolais. But, genomic predictions for commercial cattle where only available from Zoetis for high-percentage (greater than 75%) Angus cattle.

GeneMax Focus was the first commercial cattle genomic prediction test released. It provides predictions on a 5 point scale for marbling and gain, and an index called a GMX score on a scale from 1 to 100. These scores are percentile ranks where 50 is average, 1 is the bottom of the heap, and 99 is top of the class. This test cost $17. From my conversations, it explains about 20% of the variation in marbling and gain. This test is most appropriate for commercial producers who retain ownership of their cattle in the feedlot.

In March, 2014 Dr. Kent Anderson said Zoetis was working on a "complete game plan." Zoetis is leveraging data and information from the seedstock level to build products for the commercial level. At that time they released the Zoetis GeneMax Advantage test. This test reports three indexes, a Cow Advantage index focused on cow-calf production, a Feeder Advantage index focused on performance in the feedlot and on the grid, and a Total Advantage index which ranks animals on performance from conception to carcass. These indexes are also reported as a percentile ranks from 1 to 100. The GeneMax Advantage test also reports SMART Outliers. This flags animals that have extreme values for cow size, milk, docility, marbling, and tenderness. This test explains approximately 65% of the variation in dozens of traits and then combines these predictions into indexes based on economic importance. Those who have talked with a beef genetics extension specialists know indexes are the preferred way for commercial cattlemen to make selection decisions. This test costs $44 and is appropriate for anyone with high-percentage Angus.

Maternal Edge by American Gelbvieh Association and GeneSeek

In November of 2014 the AGA and GeneSeek release the Maternal Edge Female Profile. This is a commercial heifer genomic prediction for high-percentage Gelbvieh females. The Maternal Edge Female Profile returns scores for calving ease, maternal calving ease, weaning weight, yield grade, marbling, and carcass weight. Scores are from 1 to 10, with 5 being average, 1 being worst, and 10 best compared to the American Gelbvieh Association animals with genomic predictions. Kari White of the American Gelbvieh Association stated that simplicity was a priority in the design of this test. This test cost $26 and is appropriate for anyone with high-percentage Gelbvieh cattle.

Igenity Gold and Silver

On their website, Neogen GeneSeek announced the release of Igenity Gold and Igenity Silver profiles. They will introduce the product at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention on February 4th and the tests will be available March 1st.

Dr. Stewart Bauck said, "Previously we screened for hundreds of gene markers. Now we target thousands, and are focusing on the most powerful genes that affect profits in commercial cow herds." The new Igenity Gold profile ranks cattle on 12 categories of maternal, performance, and carcass traits, while the Igenity Silver profile ranks animals on 6 categories. Both tests offer free parentage verification. The profiles can also be combined with BVD-PI and pregnancy testing. The profiles will also test for the presence of male Y chromosomes in females, which research at USDA-MARC suggests reduces fertility. Igenity is also improving its website to provide producers with tools to manage their selection decisions.


As part of the Show-Me-Select™ Replacement Heifer Program, we have created a new designation for heifers with genomic predictions called Show-Me-Plus™. In the past, the Show-Me-Select program created a designation for heifers that were out of high-accuracy AI sires called Tier II heifers. Buyers had more information about these heifers and consistently paid a premium for them. To capitalize on the increased information provided by genomic predictions, the Show-Me-Select program created the Show-Me-Plus designation. These are either registered heifers with genomic-enhanced EPDs or commercial heifers with a prediction from an approved genomic test. The GeneMax Advantage and Maternal Edge Heifer Profiles are currently approved for use in the program. Watch this blog or the Show-Me-Select website for more information about Show-Me-Plus heifers.

Take Home Messages

The GeneMax Focus, GeneMax Advantage, and Gelbvieh Maternal Edge Heifer Profile are all built on genomic prediction best practices and are designed with the breed-specific nature of genomic predictions in mind. We also expect that other breed associations will be releasing breed-specific commercial heifer predictions in the future. I will pass along more information about the new Igenity profiles as I gather it. As more commercial heifer genomic predictions are released a greater number of beef farms and ranches will have access to the benefits of genomic technology.


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