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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

The Simple Value of Parentage Verification – It’s More Than You Might Realize


When we think about DNA testing in cattle, we often revert to more complex testing like “GGP 50 or 100K” or “HD50K” and precise predictions of progeny performance in the form of genomically enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPD). What we often overlook is the fact that with every SNP panel that is purchased for an animal, parentage information is included at no additional cost. It’s one of the unsung heroes of genomic technology. Let’s talk about why.

Did you know that on average 10% of parentage is misreported to breed associations? Of course, this isn’t on purpose but rather a result of animals being sired by cover bulls instead of AI sires and other such cases. Just last year I had a parentage issue where a cow was AI’d and put in a pasture with a cover bull after a short waiting period but ended up being bred by another cover bull in between both exposures. Anything is possible.

For seedstock producers, a lot rests on the pedigree of an animal. When you open a sale catalog, what is the first thing you see next to a registration name and number? Pedigree. Surrounded by photos of related animals. Without DNA, that parentage information is not verified. But incorrect parentage doesn’t just impact their pedigree on paper. In the case of young, unproven, sires with no progeny information or their own phenotype on file, their EPDs are based solely off of the average of their reported sire and dam. See for example the table below.

Table 1. Example EPDs and how parent averages are calculated






















Therefore, if the parentage on that mating is incorrect, the predictions of genetic merit would have little chance of being accurate. This alone makes verifying parentage of utmost importance to any seedstock breeder selling registered animals.

For seedstock and commercial producers, parentage also provides additional information with which to make decisions off of. This is especially true in the case of multisire pastures. Obtaining information on which bulls sired which calves helps to identify things such as:

1.      Dominance issues within pastures and potential need to reorganize or cull bulls not performing

2.      Bulls potentially causing calving difficulties

3.      Bulls siring the replacement heifers or steers you like ‘best’

4.      Tracking genetic defects, should they arise

Most, if not all, genomic profiles available to both seedstock and commercial producers today come with parentage verification, likely at no additional cost, adding that much more value to the technology. However, parentage verification on its own is oftentimes available for those looking to try it out for the first time. In either case, it is worth consideration to implement on your operation.

Note: Parentage verification is conducted by comparing the DNA of animals to potential sires and dams reported to the entity conducting the analysis. Based on the information available, animals are then ‘excluded’ as parents of said progeny or ‘qualified’.


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