The 95th annual Kansas State University Cattlemen’s Day and The Legacy Sale highlighted the application of DNA technology in the beef industry.

As part of the Cattlemen’s Day program, Dan Moser, associate professor of animal sciences and industry at K-State, discussed the options and opportunities available to producers through DNA technology and marker-assisted selection. One advantage Moser emphasized was how DNA technology can help the beef industry better compete with other protein sources.

“The beef industry has always fought a race against time when compared with competing industries. Shorter generation intervals mean the pork and poultry industries can adapt to changing markets and demands much quicker,” he explains. “However, DNA technology offers the beef industry an opportunity to identify some traits earlier in animals’ lives to make better decisions about those individuals.”

Taking DNA technology benefits beyond the pasture, Moser also covered how marker-assisted management can help feedyards do a better job of managing feeder cattle.

In addition to helping educate producers on the applications of DNA technology, K-State has put the power of DNA to work in the University’s purebred herd. All bulls in The Legacy Sale, which was held in conjunction with Cattlemen’s Day, had inside information from the comprehensive IGENITY profile available to buyers.

Ryan Breiner is the manager of the K-State Purebred Beef Teaching Unit and an assistant instructor in the animal sciences and industry department. He says the decision to provide DNA profiles on the bulls was an effort to give customers as much information as possible about each lot.  

“We feel this information allows our customers to know more about the actual ability of the cattle to perform,” Breiner says. “It is important for our customers to understand and apply this information when selecting bulls to use in their operations.”

Breiner says he received requests for the IGENITY profile information prior to the sale and producer questions about the technology.

“Producers are definitely interested, and I think many see the technology as a valuable tool to help make better selection decisions,” he says.

Breiner adds that they chose to provide the IGENITY profile on these bulls due to the comprehensive approach the company has taken.

“We recognize that IGENITY is on the leading edge when it comes to bringing new traits and markers to the market,” he says. “It is a major advantage for us to be able to provide our customers with information about tenderness and the carcass traits. And now we can provide even more information and value with the recent addition of new traits like heifer pregnancy rate, stayability and docility.”

Dr. Stewart Bauck, Executive Director of Strategic Marketing for IGENITY, commends the K-State animal sciences and industry department for taking a leadership role in educating the industry on this technology.

“We greatly appreciate the work K-State has done to educate beef producers about the application of DNA technology and for demonstrating the power of DNA by putting the technology to work in the school’s purebred herd,” Dr. Bauck says. “Seeing the technology put to use will help beef producers understand how they can use the IGENITY profile to help achieve their goals faster. This technology puts valuable information in their hands to help them make more confident selection, management and marketing decisions.”

From a single DNA sample, the comprehensive IGENITY profile provides multiple-marker analysis of several traits of economic importance. The profile includes analyses for tenderness, marbling, quality grade, yield grade, hot carcass weight, fat thickness, ribeye area, heifer pregnancy rate, stayability, calving ease and docility as well as breed-specific horned/polled and a diagnostic test for persistent infections of the bovine viral diarrhea virus.

Source: Merial