Regardless of segment, breed, environment or type of operation, all cattle producers have one thing in common: They are continually working to produce a higher-quality end product. Genetic progress is fundamental to that goal, and — no matter what a specific operation’s goals are — adding inside information from a comprehensive DNA profile to the decision-making toolbox is a powerful option to help speed up this process.
Dr. Kevin DeHaan, technical services director, IGENITY®, says there are multiple advantages to DNA technology when making important decisions.
“With a comprehensive DNA profile, producers can gain information about more than 15 economically important traits, many of which are difficult if not impossible to measure with any other tool,” he says. “Plus, producers can get this inside information about cattle early in their lives to help make better decisions for faster genetic progress.”
Dr. DeHaan adds that the best place to start putting the power of DNA to work is with herd sires and young females.
“The most important, and convenient, place to start incorporating DNA technology is with the cattle that have the most genetic impact on the future of a herd — bulls and replacement heifers,” he explains. “If producers profile their bull battery and potential replacement heifers, then they can gain inside information to help make better selection and breeding decisions — ultimately helping reach their herd goals faster.”
To help illustrate how this genetic progress can happen, Dr. Bob Weaber, state Extension specialist, beef genetics, University of Missouri, developed a model that shows how a herd’s genetics will look based on a selected scenario.
“The purpose of this model is to explore the effect over time of different selection protocols and strategies,” Dr. Weaber says. “It is designed to illustrate the differences in genetic merit based on using the IGENITY profile to help select sires or replacement heifers, or the combination of both.”
“By using the inside information from IGENITY to help select replacement females, producers can help ensure they are pointing their herd in the right direction to make faster genetic progress and return dollars to their bottom line,” he says. “A 10 percent difference over time can mean significant advantages in profitability for traits such as heifer pregnancy rate or stayability.”
“This example shows what happens if a producer ends up using a sire that has poor genetic merit for marbling and what happens to the herd behind the scenes,” Dr. Weaber explains. “If producers don’t have any idea where their cattle rank for a trait, unbeknownst to them, their herd can actually be declining in genetic merit.”
Dr. DeHaan says this example is the most telling when it comes to the importance of producers incorporating the IGENITY profile into their selection and mating decisions.
“It is important that producers continue to evaluate all of the traits that are economically important or relate to their specific herd goals,” he says. “This is why IGENITY offers a comprehensive DNA profile with analyses for more than 15 traits. Producers can apply selection pressure to the traits that are most important to them while continuing to monitor other traits to help ensure their decisions are not unknowingly having a negative effect.”
In addition to the most comprehensive DNA profile, IGENITY offers user-friendly information management software programs and expert one-on-one consultation to assist producers in turning this inside information into actionable knowledge.
Dr. DeHaan says spring is an ideal time to put the power of DNA to work.
“These illustrations prove that producers can’t afford to select another replacement heifer or herd sire or make another breeding decision without IGENITY,” he says. “By gaining this powerful inside information this spring, producers can make more confident decisions and jump-start genetic progress in their operation.”
For more information, producers should contact their IGENITY sales representative, call (877) 443-6489 or visit www.igenity.com/beef.
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