DNA technology can help cattle producers improve their herd genetics faster, and with more confidence than ever before. But, as with any new management tool, knowing when and how to take the first step can be intimidating.

“Spring is a convenient and strategic time to incorporate DNA profiling into a management plan,” says Dr. Kevin DeHaan, Technical Services Director, IGENITY®. “Branding and other spring work provides producers with timely and efficient opportunities to collect DNA samples for use this year and in years to come.”

Here’s how Dr. DeHaan suggests producers can get started this spring:

  • Determine which animals will be profiled. Bulls and young heifers have the broadest and longest genetic impact on a herd and are a great place to start implementing DNA profiling. However, to make the most and fastest genetic progress, producers should know the DNA profile of all animals.
  • Order sample collection materials early.
  • Collect DNA samples during bull soundness exams, at branding or any other time cattle are processed in the spring.
  • Send samples in for analysis. (Results from the IGENITY profile are returned within 10 to 14 business days).
  • Use profile information to form breeding groups, identify superior and inferior animals in the herd, determine areas for genetic improvement, select replacement heifers that can help move the herd in the right genetic direction, take advantage of value-based marketing opportunities and much more.

“Once a producer starts collecting DNA samples and compiling data on his or her herd, the management possibilities are endless,” Dr. DeHaan says. “Seedstock producers can help enhance breed strengths; cow/calf producers can use the profile to help select better, more fertile seedstock and help create more ideal breeding groups that can speed genetic advancement; feedyards can more efficiently sort and manage cattle; and the list goes on.”

A comprehensive DNA profile provides producers with a long list of inside information on economically important traits. The recently expanded IGENITY profile — the most comprehensive DNA profile available — includes analyses for tenderness, marbling, quality grade, yield grade, hot carcass weight, fat thickness, ribeye area, and coat color. Recently added traits include heifer pregnancy rate, stayability, calving ease and docility. Options for multisire parentage, breed-specific horned/polled and a diagnostic test for identifying cattle persistently infected with the bovine viral diarrhea (BVD-PI) virus also are available.

“Spring is a great time to collect samples because producers have easy access to the animals that will provide their paycheck this fall and shape the genetic landscape of their herd for approximately the next 10 years,” Dr. DeHaan says. “The information gathered can be used to help identify calves for retained ownership, or select replacement heifers, or can be passed along to stocker or feedyard customers through value-added marketing programs.”

Producers looking for even more ways to put DNA technology to work on their operations can call 1-877-IGENITY or visit http:// www.IGENITY.com for more information.