Cattle producers can now more accurately gauge feed efficiency of animals from a single DNA sample, offering key inside information that can directly affect profitability, according to Merial. Multiple-marker analyses of traits related to feed efficiency are part of a comprehensive Igenity profile outlined by company representatives at a meeting taking place in conjunction with the 2008 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Annual Meeting and Research Symposium.

“This addition to the comprehensive Igenity profile is just in time for beef producers, as inputs rise and margins tighten this fall,” says Stewart Bauck, Igenity executive director of strategic marketing. “Efficiency is more important than ever in the cattle industry. Now, producers can use the power of DNA to help evaluate this important trait, helping them select and manage cattle with more confidence.”

The Igenity profile now analyzes genetic potential for residual feed intake (RFI) and dry matter intake (DMI), and reports each trait individually. These analyses are in addition to more than a dozen economically important traits beef producers can use to evaluate cattle early in every stage of production.

“The Igenity profile has just become more comprehensive with the addition of these analyses for feed efficiency,” Bauck says. “Producers can be confident in using these analyses this fall, as they have been extensively researched.”

Bauck says by offering the new analyses, producers can help evaluate how each trait affects efficiency at any stage of animal life.

“These two analyses will help producers identify breeding cattle that will be more efficient as young and as older animals and produce efficient progeny, while maintaining an acceptable body condition score,” he says. “Feedyard managers can use the profile to help purchase cattle that are more efficient during the feeding phase.”

RFI (also called net feed efficiency) describes how an animal’s feed intake differs from its expected feed intake based on its maintenance and growth requirements. Low RFI is more desirable than high RFI, since a low-RFI animal will either eat less with the same gains or gain more from the same amount of feed.

DMI defines an animal’s genetic potential to consume feed, which is key for predicting feedyard performance or maintenance energy requirements. Actual feed intake varies with animal growth stage.

The feed efficiency analyses in the Igenity profile have been independently researched in the United States and Australia and are third-party-validated. The analyses for RFI and DMI are currently commercially available for Bos indicus-influenced cattle only. Research is under way in Bos taurus-influenced cattle and will be available soon.

“These analyses have been extensively researched and have been demonstrated to be significant for use in Bos indicus-influenced cattle in all environments, segments and on multiple continents,” he says.

Bauck adds that the addition makes it a more effective tool for use in conjunction with traditional selection and management practices.

“The addition of analyses related to feed efficiency makes the comprehensive Igenity profile more powerful to help producers make better decisions about their cattle and help reach their goals faster,” he says. “Producers can get inside information about traits such as quality grade, fertility and now feed efficiency that are essential to profitability in the beef industry — all from a single DNA sample.”

The analyses for RFI and DMI from Igenity are in addition to multiple-marker analyses of economically important traits such as tenderness, marbling, quality grade, yield grade, hot carcass weight, fat thickness, ribeye area, heifer pregnancy rate, stayability (longevity), calving ease, docility, coat color, breed-specific horned/polled, multisire parentage and an optional diagnostic test for persistent infection (PI) of the bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus. Igenity offers a combination radio frequency identification (RFID) tag and tissue collection device, making DNA collection and electronic identification possible in one simple step.

“We strive to provide the beef industry with the most useful and thoroughly researched technology with the comprehensive Igenity profile,” Bauck says. “By analyzing traits in nearly every important aspect of cattle production — and continuing to add to its broad range of analyses — the Igenity profile empowers producers to evaluate a variety of economically important traits at one time.”

For more information, call 1-877-Igenity or visit http://www.igenity.com.