Monday, October 16, 2017

TRC Field Day: Winter Nutrition for Beef Cows

Eric Bailey, MU Extension beef nutrition specialist, discusses winter nutrition for beef cows. One of the practices that we see commonly in Nebraska, but less so in Missouri, is grazing corn stalks. Dr. Bailey discusses opportunities and limitations of this practice.

Recorded at the MU CAFNR Thompson Research Center Field Day, September 21, 2017.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Show-Me-Plus Heifers to Sell in Joplin


The Southwest Show-Me-Select™ Replacement Heifer Sale will be November 17th, 2017 at 7 PM at the Joplin Regional Stockyards. Video preview and sale may be viewed at www.joplinstockyards.com and DVAuction on-line bidding may be arranged in advance.

A Show-Me-Plus heifer is a registered or commercial heifer that has genomic predictions. For a registered heifer, this means she has GE-EPDs. For commercial heifers, it means she has been tested with a DNA panel
providing genomic predictions.

The following lots contain Show-Me-Plus heifers.

DJV Cattle Co., Edwards djvcattlecompanyjustin@gmail.com 573-345-3404
15, Angus and Angus cross heifers; all heifers have been GeneMax tested which qualifies them as Show-Me-Plus; all are synchronized and AI bred to calve on February 20; our first SMS sale.

Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
$W
AI – GAR Prophet Angus 11/
.91
72/
.96
33/
.86
124/
.95
$92.42


Goodnight Angus Farm, Carthage jeff.goodnight@sbcglobal.net 417-459-2558
4, home-raised registered Angus heifers; complete performance data; genomically tested with GGP LD test; Show-Me-Plus qualified; tested and negative for Neospora; AI breds due January 24; cleanups due March 5 to March 19; our 4th SMS sale.
Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
$W
AI – GAR Sure Fire Angus 16/
.82
58/
.85
27/
.47
108/
.88
$61.36
AI – GAR Prophet Angus 11/
.91
72/
.96
33/
.86
124/
.95
$92.42
NS– Jacs Blackjack 5124 Angus 12/
.34
61/
.48
23/
.31
116/
.43
$59.74


Circle S Chicks (Dusty & Val Sturgeon), Stark City sturgeon-V@yahoo.com 417-489-0039
100, Red Angus heifers; 70 were synchronized and AI bred are due to calve February 1; 30 head are pasture exposed only and will calve from February 21 to March 23; preg tested via ultrasound and were fetal-sexed; genomically tested with Red Angus Herd Navigator which makes them Show-Me-Plus heifers; our 5th SMS sale.
Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
Herd-Builder
AI – Andras Fuslon R236 Red Angus 16/
.77
44/
.87
23/
.75
87/
.86
$124
NS – Bieber Fusion C168 Red Angus 13/
.21
42/
.33
24/
.20
70/
.37
$126
NS – Bieber Rou Stormy D37 Red Angus 10/
.26
61/
.33
24/
.14
103/
.36
$143
NS – Bieber Takeout D408 Red Angus 11/
.28
48/
.32
25/
.16
69/
.36
$118
NS – Bieber Acc Scc Triumph D109 Red Angus 10/
.27
50/
.35
26/
.16
83/
.38
$149


5C Ranch Inc./Scott Casey, El Dorado Springs charlie_casey@hotmail.com 417-296-1276
10, home-raised Angus & Angus cross heifers with Hereford influence; have used Angus bulls for 15 years; herd of 300 cows are Top Dollar Angus qualified; these sale heifers are Genemax Focus tested thus are Show-Me-Plus; grown on fescue with daily hand feeding; several of these 10 head are out of SMS females we’ve bought; carcass data from our herd the last 2 years show, 90% Choice/Prime; 4 lbs ADG; 30% Certified Angus Beef; 6:1 feed:gain; 5% were yield grades 4 & 5’s; Synchronized and AI bred to calve February 11; cleanup breds due February 19 to February 24; our first consignment to the SMS sale.
Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
$W
AI – Thomas Top Hand 0536 Angus 12/
.73
70/
.86
28/
.49
121/
.80
$74.67
NS– HPCA G A R Prophet 301 Angus 14/
.32
66/
.41
48/
.29
116/
.35
$91.95
NS– HPCA All In 565 Angus 18/
.35
63/
.44
30/
.33
108/
.39
$80.56

Thursday, October 12, 2017

TRC Field Day: Sex-Sorted Semen

Jordan Thomas, a PhD candidate in David Patterson's group, presented on the use of sex-sorted semen in the beef industry at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Thompson Research Center Field Day.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Calving Ease and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Red angus cows oregon
By Darcy Vial
USDA FSA Oregon via Wikimedia Commons
Written by Tom Brink
RAAA CEO
Reprinted from the Red Angus eNews - October 4, 2017

Calving ease is especially important in first-calf females, and is therefore something we pay close attention to when breeding virgin heifers. In fact, calving ease considerations usually rank first on the list when selecting bulls to use on heifers.  

Red Angus bulls often see service on heifers thus, mapping the relationship between calving ease EPDs (CED) and unassisted births is a worthwhile task. The better Red Angus breeders understand this relationship, the better selection and mating decisions they can make for themselves and their customers.

The curved line shown in the chart below was statistically derived from tens of thousands of Red Angus calving records stored in the RAAA database. All of the calvings are from first parity females bred to bulls ranging from -8 to 20 for CED. This line captures the “average” or “typical” experience calving heifers as the sires’ CED goes from the low end to the high end of the Red Angus bell curve.  



As expected, bulls with a higher CED produce a greater number of unassisted births. Conversely, bulls with low single digit or negative CEDs generally cause more calving difficulty. The shape of the curve also provides useful perspective. Note that moving from -8 to 0 for CED results in a sharp increase in unassisted births. That’s obviously a good thing. It’s also why we don’t see many heifers bred to negative CED bulls.    

Unassisted births improve further when moving from a CED of 0 up to the 8-10 area. This improvement is significant in magnitude, but the incremental benefit of each additional one-point increase in CED is now becoming smaller as the law of diminishing returns is taking effect. 

Moving up the curve from a 10 to 15 CED provides a bit more benefit but the incremental advantage is now very small. Over 15, the line flattens out completely, which means there is no practical difference in unassisted births for bulls having CEDs ranging from 15 to 20 or above.  Unless a group of heifers are small in size, have inadequate pelvic area, and/or are underdeveloped at the time of calving, we would not expect any difference in calving difficulty between a bull with a CED of 14 or 15 versus one whose CED is 19 or 20. In that zone, the law of diminishing returns is in full control, stamping out any more benefit completely.

As a final thought, don’t forget that EPD accuracies matter a great deal when making mating decisions in which calving ease is critical. It may in some situations be better to use a high-accuracy bull with a lower but still acceptable CED instead of one with a higher CED that is unproven with low accuracy.

Decker's Take Home Message
It is so easy to want to select for maximums. We need to remind ourselves to select for optimums. 
The Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program requires Red Angus service sires to have a CED EPD greater than 8. Artificial insemination (AI) sires must have an EPD accuracy greater than 0.6.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Reverend Bayes and Cattle Breeding

Thomas Bayes
Reverend Bayes
via Wikimedia Commons
You are asking yourself, who is Reverend Bayes and what does he have to do with cattle? The answer to this question will answer a major misconception in cattle genetics.

Reverend Bayes was an 18th century Presbyterian minister. He was also trained in logic. Due to Bayes’ work on probabilities, an approach to statistics called Bayesian statistics is named after him. In Bayesian statistics, we start with a prior belief (prior probability). As more information and data are gathered, we update this prior belief. We call this new update a posterior belief. We continue this process as we collect additional data. Further, a key tenant of Bayesian statistics is evaluating the methods (i.e. models) used in our analysis. Statisticians and scientists did not frequently use this system of statistics in the early 20th century. But, with increased computing power, Bayesian statistics has become very popular in the 21st century.

White Bull
By Lutz Koch
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cattle genetic prediction is very much Bayesian. We start with a prior belief. For genetic predictions (e.g. EPDs), this prior is the parental average. The parental average is half of the sire’s genetic prediction plus half of the dam’s genetic prediction. This prior prediction is not only based on quantitative genetics theory, but biology as well. If we mated the same sire and dam hundreds of times to produce hundreds of progeny, the average breeding value of those progeny would be the parental average.

When we receive new data on an animal, an important step happens. We update our prediction! Every calf receives a random sample of its sire’s and dam’s genetics. As we collect data on the animal, either its own performance, the performance of its progeny, or genomic test results, we now have information to sort out this random sample of genetic effects the animal received from its parents. The amount of variation associated with this random shuffle of genes between generations is quite large. In typical situations, the amount of variance between full siblings (same sire and dam) is equal to half of the variance in the entire population. This random sample of genes is unknown. It takes data to identify how an individual animal’s breeding value is different from its parental average. Thus, as we update predictions based on new data, it improves the prediction, making it closer to its unknown true value. We continue this updating process until we reach enough certainty that we call this animal a “proven” parent.

Not only do predictions change by updating the data, but also occasionally, we improve the statistical models used to estimate them. In the early 2000s, many dairy breeds added fertility traits to their economic indexes (breeding objectives). Prior to this, the genetic trend for fertility had been negative and the fertility of dairy herds was decreasing. After this change to the indexes, genetic merit for fertility increased and dairy herds became more fertile.

Several beef breed associations have recently switched or are in the process of switching from multi-step genomic prediction to single-step genomic prediction. Concurrent with this switch, several other changes will be made to the statistical models. For example, July 7, 2017 Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) updated the evaluation of carcass traits for the American Angus Association. When producers were turning in carcass data it tended to be actual carcass data from low performing bulls who became steers or ultrasound data from the very best animals. This was not a random sample. It was a biased sample from a selected set of animals, which were either the very worst or the very best. In other words, there was selection bias. But, by fitting weaning weights as a correlated trait in the analysis of carcass data AGI removed this selection bias. This improved the genetic predictions.

As Nate Silver and Philip Tetlock have both written, the best predictions update as they receive new data. Yet, when a recently purchased animal quickly losses value as data and models are updated, this causes anxiety and alarm for many cattle breeders. When confronted with these situations, livestock breeders need to remind themselves of two facts.

  1. When they made the purchase, they used the best available predictions. 
  2. The new answer will serve them better in the long run. 

Imagine if predictions are not updated, or we stick our head in the sand and ignore updated predictions. In this scenario, our customers will become frustrated because what we are saying in our marketing is not matching real world performance. We can either swallow the bitter pill now resulting in happy, confident customers. Or, we can ignore the truth and end up with unhappy, distrusting customers.

Cattle breeders can use this updating process to their advantage by collecting and reporting data. Collect all the data that you can afford based on financial, time, and labor resources. Make sure the data you report is accurate (clean data). Do not guess on weights or use birth weight tapes. Report actual weights recorded on a scale! Turn in complete data. Record and report data on every calf born on your farm. Do not pick and choose which data you report; report all of it. Otherwise, you are simply biasing the predictions.

Updated predictions are valuable. Although updates may be uncomfortable in the short term, these updates make predictions more accurate. These updated predictions increase the precision of genetic predictions, improve the rate of genetic progress, and advance the sustainability, including profitability, of our cattle enterprises. By using updated predictions, we separate the signal from the noise and reap the benefit of modern statistics.

Written for the Fall 2017 MWI Veterinary Update.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Brownfield: Gene by Environment Cattle Research

beef research and teaching farm_south farm_summer_0046
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Julie Harker of Brownfield Ag News.

Head over to Brownfield Ag News to listen to our conversation. At Mizzou, we are working to create new tools that will stack the deck for farmers and ranchers to be more sustainable. That sustainability includes environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and, perhaps most importantly, profitability.

Thanks to Julie for taking time to conduct the interview and publish it!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Good ration affects cow profits; MU field day to tell of nutrition

by Duane Dailey

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri beef producers have it good when it comes to feed resources, says Eric Bailey, University of Missouri Extension nutritionist.
On Sept. 21 at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard, he’ll share his good news. Bailey, new to Missouri, can tell what cow owners face in New Mexico, Texas and Kansas. “I’ve seen lots of prairie hay with no nutrient value at all,” Bailey says.
“Missourians make top-notch hay,” he says. Also, Show-Me producers have access to many distillers byproducts and alternative feeds.
Other speakers at the Thompson Farm event will talk genetic advances. They know the part nutrition plays in expression of genetic potential.
Research on fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) will be updated.
The annual event at the MU research farm west of Spickard will be held in the evening, a change. Sign-in starts at 3:30 p.m. with farm tours to follow. Talks begin at 6 p.m. and dinner is at 7:15. Last talk, on price premiums for selling quality beef, will be at 8:15 p.m.
“Missouri has lots of high-quality cattle,” Bailey says. “I see that, driving up and down the roads.” He’s been across the state on get-acquainted tours.
Bailey doesn’t plan to get deep into details at first. “I want herd owners to think feeding systems. First, they must think feed intake.”
Owners must have some idea on what is enough. Also, they need to know what is too much, he says.
For example, a 1,400-pound cow eats 36 pounds of feed per day. Multiply that by 30 for forage for a month. Then extend that for a year. That’s 12,960 pounds. “Now think 7 tons per cow for the year. Then allow for waste loss,” Bailey says.
To put a frame on mineral mixes, do similar figures. Mineral bag labels state average consumption of 4 ounces per head per day. That’s 91.25 pounds for a year. That’s two 50-pound bags of supplement.
“Start with getting feed intake right,” Bailey says. That’s for grazing or rolling out hay bales.
“Get feed out in front of them,” he says. “If you feed a cow only 2 pounds a day, it doesn’t matter how good the ration. She’ll lose body condition.”
Next, Bailey wants producers to know their feed costs. A cow pays for her feed with one calf per year. “If you spend more than the price of one calf, you lose money.”
Nutrition must stay in the framework of one cow having one calf. “If a calf sells for $750, that’s all you can spend for all costs of production that year.”
After starting with the big picture, particularly on feed intake and cost, Bailey can help refine a ration. That can improve production while keeping expenses under control.
Later, Bailey will give lessons on cutting waste. Instead of worrying too much about mineral mix, start with a rainproof feeder. Or even bigger, farmers can learn to cut waste when feeding hay.
The Thompson Research Center, a part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia, is at the end of state Highway C, 7 miles west of Spickard. That’s off U.S. Highway 65 in northwestern Grundy County.
The event and dinner are free. Sponsors will set up exhibits in the breeding barn.
 

For more than 100 years, University of Missouri Extension has extended university-based knowledge beyond the campus into all counties of the state. In doing so, extension has strengthened families, businesses and communities.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MU Thompson Farm field day, Sept. 21, looks at profitable beef cow herds

by Duane Dailey

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Making profits from beef herds will be taught Sept. 21 at the University of Missouri Thompson Farm field day near Spickard, Mo.
Genetics, breeding, feeding and selling improve profits, say MU Extension specialists.
“For a change, the program will be in the evening,” says Rod Geisert, superintendent, Columbia. Sign-in opens at 3:30 p.m. and is followed by farm tours. “We hope farmers with off-farm jobs can attend,” Geisert says.
Talks begin at 6:15 p.m., with dinner at 7:15. Speakers won’t talk just profits. They look at the big picture of beef production.
Jared Decker, MU Extension geneticist, has a message for herd owners. “Profits are the most important trait for beef cows.”
Calving ease, weaning weight, carcass merit and other traits improve a herd. “Dollars count most at the end of the year,” says the beef specialist.
In the past, herd owners needed many EPDs (expected progeny differences) to guide breeding. Now one selection index, such as dollar beef ($B), blends many traits into one number.
Genetic guides get simpler, Decker says.
Eric Bailey, MU Extension beef nutritionist, says full genetic potential takes good feeding. “Often herd owners worry about one part of feeding, such as minerals,” Bailey says. “All must be taken in adequate amounts.”
In fact, Bailey says to look first at total feed intake. Some cows will benefit from more feed. But feeding too much expensive feed wastes dollars. That hurts profits.
In the end, economics—the dollars left for owners—count, says Scott Brown, MU livestock economist. He sums up the evening with a look at selling calves.
Cow herd economics change as demand grows for quality beef. Calf prices are volatile this year, but one constant is increasing prime beef prices. Choice beef prices jump up and down while prime stays steadier.
“Breeding for quality becomes a risk management tool,” Brown says.
Research from the MU Thompson Farm cows shows how a commercial herd can provide USDA prime. In the last calf crop, all but one graded choice or prime. The prime calves drew premiums of $36.40 per hundredweight. Carcasses weighed 800 pounds.
With top sires used for artificial insemination, the calves show that proven genetics bring premium prices.
The MU calves show that genetics, not long-term feeding, makes that high USDA grade.
Brown tells the value of premiums, especially in times of low beef prices.
There will be new lessons on breeding from the Thompson herd. Jordan Thomas, MU researcher, will tell advances in the use of sex-sorted semen. With fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) and sorted semen, herd owners can choose gender of calves. They can breed for all heifers or all steers.
A new line of research studies hair shedding. Some cattle grazing toxic fescue grass don’t shed winter coats quickly. That brings heat stress and slow gains. Harly Durbin, MU researcher, will tell of study results so far.
Research from MU Thompson Farm led to the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program. Protocols for heifer management and genetics allow owners to apply the science.
The MU research farm is 7 miles west of Spickard at the end of Highway C off U.S. Highway 65.
Farm supply and genetic companies will set up exhibits for the evening.
Thompson Research Center, part of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, is in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia.
 

For more than 100 years, University of Missouri Extension has extended university-based knowledge beyond the campus into all counties of the state. In doing so, extension has strengthened families, businesses and communities.

Friday, September 8, 2017

RAAA Implements Updated Zoetis Genomic Test

Red Angus Announcement

The Red Angus Association of America is excited to announce the release of Zoetis’ HD50K/i50K Version 2 genomic test along with the release of the Fall 2017 EPDs. Representing a recalibration of Zoetis’ original genomic test, Version 2 provides Red Angus breeders with a significant improvement in genetic prediction accuracy.  

Made possible by Red Angus breeders’ adoption of genomic technology, the Version 2 test was developed using Zoetis’ growing volume of 50K data on Red Angus animals. As a direct result, the population of animals used for the development of the Version 2 test consisted of mostly Red Angus animals along with strategically selected Black Angus animals. This is a distinct improvement from the original “Global Angus” test, which was developed using a higher percentage of Black Angus animals. Thus, the Version 2 test represents a significant improvement in RAAA’s ability to provide accurate EPDs on HD50K/i50K-tested animals.

Another exciting improvement is Zoetis’ Version 2 test provides genomic data for RAAA’s entire suite of EPDs. Therefore, in addition to the genomic-enhanced EPDs provided by the previous “Global Angus” test, breeders will now receive HD50K/i50K-powered genomic enhanced Stayability, Heifer Pregnancy and Maintenance Energy EPDs. Relatedly, HD50K/i50K-tested animals will receive a genomic-enhanced HerdBuilder index. 

Animals tested with the original Zoetis genomic test have already been upgraded to the Version 2 test. As a result of the improvement in genetic prediction, EPDs of upgraded animals have the potential to change. Similar to EPD changes and increases in accuracy resulting from the addition of progeny data, the updated EPDs represent an improvement in the prediction of animals’ genetic merit. 

Visit RedAngus.org/genetics to order – or learn more about – Zoetis’ Version 2 HD50K/i50K test. 

Additional Information

This recalibration performed by Zoetis included over 8,500 seedstock animals. Progeny equivalents, or the boost in EPD accuracy if the genomic data had been progeny data, ranged from 6 to 53 (Table 1.) Not only do genomic predictions provide increased data for estimating EPDs, they also verify parentage. When parentage issues are identified, they can be corrected, thus improving the quality of the reported EPDs.

Zoetis markets an i50K product. The "i" stands for imputation, or the process of inferring genotypes for DNA markers not tested based on the patterns of the tested DNA markers. The correlation of the Molecular Value Predictions (MVP®) calculated from i50K versus the HD 50K is around 0.99.

The correlations between the MVP® and the true breeding values avereaged 0.63, with a low of 0.46 for Milk (it has been difficult to predict maternal effects) and a high of 0.79 for calving ease direct (CED).

TABLE 1. GE-EPD ACCURACY (BIF) AND APPROXIMATE PROGENY EQUIVALENTS POWERED BY HD 50K/I50K V2 FOR RED ANGUS
Trait
h2
HD 50K Genomic Correlation
Pedigree (P) EPD Accuracy
Accuracy from 50K
GE-EPD Accuracy (P+50K)
Pedigree (P) EPD Progeny Equivalents
HD 50K Progeny Equivalents
Total Progeny Equivalents (P+50K)
CED
0.14
0.79
0.17
0.26
0.43
11
42
53
BW
0.37
0.71
0.24
0.16
0.4
7
10
17
WW
0.26
0.65
0.22
0.13
0.35
9
10
19
YW
0.22
0.72
0.22
0.17
0.39
11
17
28
Milk
0.13
0.46
0.16
0.07
0.23
11
7
18
ME
0.65
0.76
0.11
0.27
0.38
1
10
11
HPG
0.24
0.69
0.14
0.19
0.33
5
14
19
CEM
0.15
0.66
0.17
0.16
0.33
10
19
29
STAY
0.1
0.65
0.18
0.15
0.33
17
26
43
Marb
0.54
0.6
0.15
0.13
0.28
2
4
6
YG
0.4
0.6
0.14
0.14
0.28
3
5
8
CW
0.38
0.78
0.19
0.24
0.43
4
15
19
REA
0.46
0.56
0.14
0.12
0.26
2
4
6
FAT
0.35
0.48
0.17
0.07
0.24
4
3
7


The Red Angus Association of America serves the beef industry by enhancing and promoting the competitive advantages of Red Angus and Red Angus-influenced cattle. The RAAA provides commercial producers with the most objectively described cattle in the industry by seeking and implementing new technologies based on sound, scientific principles that measure traits of economic importance. For more information, visit RedAngus.org.

Sources: Red Angus Association of America and Zoetis.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Using Genomic Tests to Detect Genetic Abnormalities in Beef Cattle

Christian P. Lewis
South Dakota State University undergraduate student

Rapid advances in science and technology are appearing throughout agriculture. One of the newest technologies that has worked its way into the cattle industry is DNA testing and the use of genomic data.

Practical Uses of Genomic Data

Genetic abnormalities are not a common problem in beef cattle production, but they do appear if precautions are not taken. Most frequently, a genetic abnormality appeared because both the cow and bull were carriers of a recessive allele that causes the abnormality. An animal is termed a “carrier” when they have a dominant allele that is masking the recessive allele. Figure 1 illustrates how an abnormality can appear by mating two carriers. Genetic abnormalities will appear when a calf has two copies of the recessive allele that it got from its sire and dam.

A
a
A
AA
Aa
50% chance the calf will be a carrier
a
Aa
aa
25% chance the calf will have the abnormality
Figure 1: Mating two carriers (Aa) of a recessive allele (a) that is completely masked by the dominant allele (A)

Without a DNA test for an abnormality, the only way you will know an animal is a carrier or not is when you mate the suspected carrier to a known carrier and offspring with the abnormality are born. If you want to test for a genetic abnormality, the first thing that you should do is contact your breed association to see how they want DNA collected for a test and where to send DNA samples.

DNA Collecting Basics

There are three common ways to obtain DNA samples from cattle: blood samples on FTA cards, tissue samples, and hair samples. If testing young calves, a blood sample is often preferred. There are several videos online that demonstrate how to collect DNA samples if you are new to DNA testing.

Collecting blood samples


Collecting tissue samples


Collecting hair samples




Managing Known Defects

After you receive the results, there are three possible ways to keep the tested abnormality from appearing again:

  1. Cull the carriers.
  2. Make sure not to mate two known carriers.
  3. Utilize crossbreeding.

Culling the known carriers and not using carrier bulls will eliminate the abnormality from appearing in your herd again. By always using non-carrier bulls, none of your calves will ever present the abnormality.  If the genetics from the known carriers are too valuable to cull, you must plan your mating decisions so that two carriers are not allowed to mate. If you use a carrier bull, all calves sired by this bull should either be sold after weaning or tested for carrier status before they are bred. Crossbreeding may be the easiest way to avoid genetic abnormalities. It’s very rare for one abnormality to segregate within two breeds, but it’s not unheard of. For example, Tibial Hemimelia (TH) segregates in both Shorthorn and Maine Anjou, as some of the same sires were used in both breeds. So, mating Shorthorn with Maine Anjou presents a risk of the TH abnormality appearing in calves.  Further, if both the sire and dam share a breed (e.g., both sire and dam are Angus-influenced), mating these individuals could still result in the appearance of a genetic abnormality.

DNA Test Available

Producers can often order tests for genetic abnormalities along with other DNA tests. These DNA tests are priced based on how many tests you want them to perform. Most DNA tests for genetic abnormalities cost approximately $25 per head, but the cost per head may be lower if you test for more than one genetic abnormality or purchase another DNA testing product (e.g., Igenity Profile, PredicGEN).  If you wish to learn more about genetic abnormalities and available DNA tests for these abnormalities, you can visit websites maintained by Zoetis Animal Genetics https://www.zoetisus.com/animal-genetics/beef/index.aspx or Neogen Corporation http://genomics.neogen.com/en/genetic-health-and-conditions.  Both of these companies provide DNA testing services for the beef industry.  A more comprehensive list of DNA test providers can be found in the article titled “Managing Genetic Defects” authored by Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam (see references list). 

Conclusion

In today’s production environment, it is often easier to take precautionary steps than fix something after it becomes a problem. Genetic abnormalities may not appear in your calf crop this year, but they could down the road. If your cowherd is at risk (e.g. you know you have used carrier bulls in the past), testing your cowherd for abnormalities will at the very least give you peace of mind. It might even save a calf from developing an abnormality, which in turn, will lead to more pounds to sell at weaning time.

References
Van Eenennaam, A. 2015. Managing Genetic Defects. http://articles.extension.org/pages/72662/managing-genetic-defects

As part of our USDA-NIFA local adaptation grant, Michael G. Gonda at South Dakota State University has developed a course titled "Applied Beef Cattle Breeding." Christian wrote this article while participating in that course.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Videos from Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle

Several of my colleagues from the University of Missouri are attending the Applied Reproduction Strategies in Beef Cattle conference today and tomorrow in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Beef Reproduction Task Force is posting live videos of the talks on their Facebook page. Farmers and ranchers can either watch the talks live or view recording of the talks.

David Patterson spoke at the conference this morning.


Proceedings from the conferences are available here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Southwest Research Center Field Day 2017

The Southwest Research Center Field Day will be Saturday September 9, 2017 from 9 am to 1 pm.
It will include a Beef Tour, Forage Tour, Horticulture Tour, and General Ag Tour. It will feature airplane rides, pumpkin patch, grass maze, face painting and other children's activities.

Beef Tour

  • Tim Evans, The value of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory to Missouri agriculture — 9 & 11 a.m.
  • Eric Bailey, Mineral supplementation for beef cattle — 9:30 & 11:30 a.m.
  • Danny Shilling, Cattledog demonstration — 10 a.m. & noon
  • Jared Decker, Selecting for profit — 10:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.

Forage Tour


  • Ryan Lock, Baleage supplementation — 9 & 11:30 a.m.
  • Tim Schnakenberg, Bermudagrass: could it be a game-changer in our hayfields and pastures? — 9:30 & 11 a.m.
  • Will Knuckles, Novel endophyte fescue — 10 a.m. & noon
  • Stacey Hamilton, Measure-monitor — manage your pasture with paddock track: technology to improve your bottom line — 10:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.

Horticulture Tour

  • Patrick Byers, Blackberry research and production — 9:30 & 11 a.m.
  • Kelly McGowan, Overview of elderflower research — 9:45 & 11:15 a.m.
  • Grant Bolton, Trapping and control of spotted-wing drosophila — 10 & 11:30 a.m.
  • Shon Bishop, High tunnels and Brussels sprouts — 9 & 10:30 a.m.
  • Dean Volenberg — 9:30 & 11:30 a.m.
  • Leon Riggs, Introduction and history of bees — 9 & 11 a.m.
  • Hannah Hemmelgarn, Mushroom cultivation — 10 a.m. & noon

General Ag Tour

  • Rick Rath, Missouri Department of Conservation — 9 & 11 a.m.
  • David Brune, Sustainable seafood production in the Midwest — 9:30 & 11:30 a.m.
  • Jacquie Howell, Nutrition — 10 a.m. & noon
  • Reagan Bluel, cannulated cow
The Southwest Research Center is located at:
14548 Highway H Mt. Vernon, MO 65712

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Angus Announces New Lower Price, Development of Angus-Specific DNA Test

Allen Moczygemba, CEO of American Angus Association announced in a memo Monday August 14, 2017 that the price for Neogen GGP-LD and Zoetis i50K tests would be reduced to $37, effective immediately.

The motivation for this price reduction is even more notable. In November of 2017 Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) and Neogen will launch a new genomic test (SNP panel) called AngusGS™. This test will use 50,000 (50K) DNA variants, designed specifically for Angus cattle. DNA variants are included based on their frequency in the Angus breed, rather than across many breeds like most DNA panels currently used in the industry.

Further, AGI has increased the number of DNA markers in stretches of DNA believed to be involved in fertility, feed efficiency and tenderness. The more detailed genotyping of these chromosome segments will enable more refined research of these important traits.

For example, AGI could include increased markers in regions believed to harbor embryonic lethal DNA variants. An embryonic lethal is a DNA variant that when an embryo inherits two copies (one from the sire and one from the dam) the embryo is aborted, usually early on (less than 45 days after conception). In an analysis of about 4,000 Angus cattle, researchers at the University of Missouri found evidence for 7 embryonic lethal haplotypes in Angus (haplotypes are DNA variants close together that are inherited in a unit or a pattern). With 300,000 animals genotyped within the AGI database, AGI scientist have the ability to repeat and expand this analysis. The dairy industry has been using these haplotype tests for several years.

Dr. Stewart Bauck, Neogen vice president of agrigenomics, stated, "This project was a real collaboration, leveraging the resources and insight of AGI with the expertise of Neogen in chip design and processing, along with input from key external scientists so that the final product is an important step forward in Angus breeding and genetics." Bauck continued, "The novel tool, coupled with low cost pricing puts access to the technology within the grasp of every producer and removes barriers to broad scale genomic testing, not just for sales bulls and herd sires, but replacement heifers as well.  Broad scale testing, along with good phenotype measurement, coupled with the move to the new one-step program for the genetic evaluation, positions AGI, the American Angus Association and Angus breeders everywhere to continue to prepare the breed to meet demands for beef production in the 21st century."

The motivation behind an Angus-specific genomic test is that if we get the right DNA variants in the test, the genomic prediction performs better. More is not better. It is about getting the right 50,000 DNA variants.

50,000 DNA markers, a magic number?

We often hear discussions about 50K this or 50K that. Is 50,000 DNA variants some sort of magic number? No and Yes.

The number 50,000 is not magically. The technology frequently used for DNA marker testing (genotyping) easily fits about 50,000 to 60,000 DNA markers. The first genomic panel widely used for genomic selection included 54,000 DNA variants. This panel, released in 2008, was created by Illumina, the USDA, the University of Missouri and the University of Alberta and was called the Illumina BovineSNP50. In the last nine years, while the space available on the chips has not vastly increased, the prices have gone from $150 to $37.

However, 50,000 DNA variants is an important level to reach. We need between 20,000 and 50,000 DNA variants to accurately describe the variation and relationships within a breed of cattle.

Response from competitors

Will we see a response from competitors?

First, Zoetis has already matched the new price point for Angus genomic-enhanced EPDs (GE-EPDs) set by Neogen. Dr. Jason Osterstock, Executive Director and Head of Global Genetics at Zoetis, commented, "Zoetis is pleased to be able to increase the value of i50K and GeneMax Advantage to producers, just in time for the Fall season." (The GeneMax Advantage test now sells for $28.)

Zoetis in many regards has already been offering Angus-specific products. The Zoetis HD50K was designed for Angus cattle, by adding additional content to the BovineSNP50. The i50K is a subset of the HD50K designed as a more cost effective panel. Osterstock added, "Zoetis has been the primary source of genomic predictions for the Angus breed globally for many years, and have been incorporating Angus-specific content to maximize imputation accuracy in low density tests for quite some time. With the introduction of single-step genetic evaluations, we are excited to have the opportunity to allocate our resources and expertise from building calibrations to creating products with even greater value to producers." (The switch to single-step no longer requires recalibrations, which were conducted by scientists at Zoetis.)

Further, will other breed associations be able to decrease the price point for their GE-EPDs?

In the beef industry, we often talk about heterosis, also known as hybrid vigor, being the only free lunch. In my opinion, genomics has brought us a new free lunch—imputation. Imputation is the process of using tested DNA markers to infer the genotypes at DNA markers that were not tested. In other words, fill in missing data based on patterns in the observed data. DNA variants are inherited on strings of DNA (chromosomes) they are inherited in units (haplotypes). These haplotypes create patterns in the DNA genotype data. We can use these patterns to infer the genotypes at untested DNA markers.

Imputation means we can buy a test with 20,000 DNA variants and get the same amount of information as buying a test with 50,000 DNA variants. This is how the Zoetis i50K and the HD50K work together. Variants from the i50K are used to impute DNA variants that are on the HD50K (but not included on the i50K).

Last fall, Neogen launched a new product called the GeneSeek® Genomic Profiler™ Ultra-Low Density (GGP uLD). This product was designed to increase imputation accuracy while decreasing the price of the assay. This assay would be a viable option for breed associations looking to decrease the price of their genomic testing. The GGP-uLD is an available solution for decreased GE-EPD cost for many breed associations.

The other option for decreased genotyping costs is to buy DNA tests in bulk. The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) bought 1 million DNA tests during a single purchase. This allows ICBF to sell DNA tests to producers for €22/head (~$26/head). They began the program in 2015, and in April of 2017, they had genotyped over 1 million cattle.

Wrap Up

It is an exciting time to be a part of beef cattle breeding! We are reaching a critical mass of data that allows us to create new products and implement new approaches.