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Showing posts from October, 2015

Selection for Improved Feed Efficiency

DNA Technology: Where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed
Conference sponsored by the Beef Feed Efficiency grant, beefefficiency.org Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE Matt Spangler
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
In poultry, we have seen a 250% improvement in feed efficiency since 1957. We have dramatically improved the efficiency of gain in chickens.

We have not made similar progress in beef cattle. How can we move the needle and start to make progress?

First of all, how do we define feed efficiency?

Average daily gain (ADG)Average daily feed intake (AFI)Residual feed intake (RFI) is the difference between what we expected an animal to eat and what they actually ate. In residual feed intake, how we define a contemporary group is very important. For example, think of combining Scottish Highland and Chianina cattle in a group. 

EPDs for feed efficiency

Residual gainresidual feed intakedray matter intakeDays to finish

If a breed publishes multiple efficiency …

Selection for Cattle that are Less Susceptible to BRD

DNA Technology: Where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed
Conference sponsored by the Beef Feed Efficiency grant, beefefficiency.org Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE
Alison Van Eenennaam
University of California-Davis
Twitter: @biobeef
The long-term goal of this project is to reduce the incidence of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) complex through genomic selection. We would not want to challenge our herd to see if they are susceptible or not; too many would end up dead! Genomics helps us select for traits that are difficult to measure or have a low heritability.

But to create genomic predictions we need large populations, e.g. 1000s of animals, with phenotypes (trait measurements) and genotypes. BRD can be difficult to measure and quantify; the data can be noisy. Part of the focus of the project was a very careful definition of a sick animal. Temperature, cough, nasal drainage, eye scores, and ear scores were used to define whether or not an animal was …

Selecting for More Fertile Females

DNA Technology: Where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed
Conference sponsored by the Beef Feed Efficiency grant, beefefficiency.org Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE Jared E. Decker
University of Missouri
Introduction It has frequently been stated that reproductive traits have low heritabilities, meaning little of the variation in reproductive traits is due to genetic differences. Due to this catchphrase, producers may not emphasize reproductive traits in their breeding decisions. Further, cows and heifers may sometimes receive a “Get Out of Jail, Free” card when their reproductive performance is lacking.
Let us reconsider the amount of variation in reproductive traits due to genetics. First consider the Heifer Pregnancy EPD reported by the American Angus Association. They report a heritability of 14% for Heifer Pregnancy (https://www.angus.org/Nce/Heritabilities.aspx ). At first, this may seem like a very small percentage. But, to put it in further pers…

Speaker Sensation at the National Angus Convention

Entertaining and educational, an impressive line-up headlines Angus events Nov. 3-5 in Overland Park, Kan.



The complete program for the 2015 Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show, which takes place Nov. 3-5 in Overland Park, Kan., features an incredible slate of speakers.

Highlights of the week’s events include an International Angus Genomics Symposium on Tuesday, Nov. 3, sponsored by Neogen®’s GeneSeek Operations, during which keynote speaker and genetics pioneer Richard Resnick will discuss the evolving progress of genomic technology. The afternoon will provide hands-on Genomics Innovation Workshops sponsored by Zoetis.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Angus University, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, returns to follow “A Story of a Steak” and share insights on increasing quality in the nation’s beef production chain. Ken Schmidt, former Harley-Davidson communications director is the morning keynote speaker. The afternoon will feature 21 educational breakouts with emphasi…

What have we learned from sequencing efforts to date?

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And where are we going next?
This graph never ceases to amaze me. On the horizontal axis we have dates from September 2001 to July 2015. On the vertical axis we have the cost to sequence a million base pairs of DNA, with the axis having a logarithmic scale (each tick mark is multiplied by 10, e.g. change from 10 to 100 to 1000). The blue line describes what is called Moore's Law which describes the increase in purchasing power as computer costs come down. The rate of improvement in DNA sequencing easily outpaces the improvement in computing. Since September 2001, the price of DNA sequencing has dropped 6 orders of magnitude from $5,292.39 to $0.015. From more than $5,000 to less than 2 cents!!!

What caused the drop in sequencing from April 2015 to July 2015? This is due to the release of the Illumina HiSeq X Ten system. Previously this system was only licensed for human sequencing. But on October 6th, this restriction was lifted and this system is now available for livestock geno…

2015 NBCEC Brown Bagger Series Kicks Off

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The 2015 National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium Brown Bagger series kicked off today. The Brown Bagger is a webinar discussing beef cattle genetics every Wednesday in October at 12:00 Central time. While we've already missed today's webinar, no fear there are more great presentations coming up. Plus, recordings of today's webinar will be available online in the coming weeks.

The theme for this year's series is "Advancing genetic selection in beef cattle: Improving current tools and developing new ones."

The following presentations are scheduled:

Oct 7 Advancements in National Cattle Evaluation Strategies
Host, Dr. Matt Spangler

Latest changes to national cattle evaluation systems—Dr. Bob Weaber, Kansas State UniversityAcross Breed EPD and multi-breed genetic evaluation developments—Dr. Larry Kuehn, USDA-ARS-US-Meat Animal Research Center

Oct 14 Beef Cattle Fertility Project and Sequencing Effort Update
Host, Dr. Darrh Bullock

Update on USDA Fertility Project—D…