DNA testing in beef cattle and the potential for using genomic information in selection continues to evolve and become more powerful. Tests covering a variety of traits and offering multiple genomic-enhanced EPDs or selection indexes offer accurate information for multi-trait selection. Today, leading genomics companies Igenity and Pfizer Animal genetics offer tests that improve the accuracy of EPDs for an extensive list of traits.
But for many commercial producers, a simpler, less expensive test could provide a practical way to begin applying genomic information. That’s the concept behind GeneMax, a new service from Certified Angus Beef (CAB). The GeneMax test provides genomic ratings for two traits in Angus cattle – marbling and post-weaning gain. The test costs $17 per sample, with blood samples the preferred method.
Working with Pfizer Animal Genetics, CAB developed the test to help build supplies of CAB-qualified cattle, thus the marbling component, while helping ranchers improve production efficiency by selecting for gain.
Tested cattle will receive three economically weighted values based on comparisons with the Angus database. A GMX score that combines marbling and growth will range from 1 to 100 for each animal. In addition, each animal will receive a 1 to 5 score for each of the traits, based on percentile ranking within the database.
CAB intends the GeneMax test for use in commercial cattle, on high-percentage Angus females and feeder calves. Mark McCully, CAB’s assistant VP of production, says the group anticipates a variety of applications. Cow-calf producers could use the test to augment conventional selection criteria for replacement heifers. They also could test the entire cow herd and use the ratings in their mating decisions. Ranchers also could use the test to market feeder calves based on their potential for feedlot growth and marbling.
Feedyards also could test Angus-based cattle upon arrival, using the GeneMax scores to sort cattle into management and marketing groups. They potentially could manage some groups to maximize marbling, targeting CAB premiums, while managing other groups for maximum growth.
For more information, visit CAB’s GeneMax website.