During the recent Academy of Veterinary Consultants conference, experts from Angus Genetics, Inc., the University of Missouri and Zoetis updated veterinarians on genomic technologies and the use of genomic information in beef-cattle selection. Jared Decker, PhD, an Assistant Professor and Beef Genetics Extension Specialist from the University of Missouri, presented a case study from the beef herd at the University’s Thompson Research Center.

The study focused on incorporating genomic information into replacement-heifer selection at the center. Beginning in 2014, researchers used the GeneMax Advantage tests from Angus Genetics and Certified Angus Beef to evaluate the genomic merit of the center’s heifer calves.

The GeneMax Advantage test provides three numeric ratings:

·         The GMX Feeder Advantage index evaluates the contribution to post-weaning performance of future progeny through the feedyard and to the rail.

·         The GMX Cow Advantage index evaluates the maternal value from conception to weaned calf.

·         The GMX Total Advantage index combines those scores for a system-level evaluation of total genetic contribution from conception to CAB carcass value.

The group tested 80 heifers. GMX Cow Advantage scores ranged from 36 to 91, on a 1 to 100 scale, and averaged 71.5. GMX Feeder advantage scores ranged from 34 to 91, and averaged 68.3. GMX Total Advantage scores ranged from 43 to 96 and averaged 77.8.

Using the GMX Total Advantage scores as a selection tool, the researchers selected the top 60 percent of the group to retain for breeding. That shifted the range to a minimum of 79 and maximum of 96, with an average score of 86.2.

Decker calculates that the improvement in genetic merit over in one year of selection has added $12.56 more profit per heifer calf and $63 more profit over each heifer’s lifetime. He adds that genetic improvement accumulates over time, as the female progeny of those replacement heifers and subsequent generations continue to improve.

Decker also manages “A Steak In Genomics” blog at blog.steakgenomics.org