Making quality beef for more farm profits becomes predictable by using genetic testing. Meetings across Missouri will review current breeding technology and explain new genomic tools.

University of Missouri Extension specialists are planning a meeting in Springfield. The meeting is called "Beef Cattle ReproGene." That is short for "Taking the next steps in beef cattle reproduction and genetics."

Jared Decker, MU Extension geneticist, says genomics goes beyond breeding advances taught in the MU Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program.

Options will be explained in the three-hour session and a meal will be served. The workshop takes place from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March 16 at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center.

Registration is required by calling the Lawrence County Extension at 417-499-3102.

Be More Profitable

Missouri herd owners can learn to produce more profitable cattle with better genetics. Both producers and buyers have learned at the Show-Me-Select sales in spring and fall. Repeat buyers come back to bid more for replacement heifers in the Show-Me-Select program.

Adding calving ease to the heifers has cut labor and frustrations. Most important, death losses have been decreased.

The protocols now used depend on proven genetics of the bulls. EPDs, expected progeny differences, guided improvement.

With genomic testing, all heifers in a herd can be DNA-tested. This provides accurate predictions of future calf performance.

Now producers can use genetic information on the male and female side of the herd, Decker says.

On the reproduction side, Dave Patterson will tell of new research that offers better conception rates from artificial insemination (AI). Split-time AI gets more cows pregnant.

Also coming is the use of sex-sorted semen. This allows making heifers or bulls. The sex can be set before insemination.

New Tools Available

Many new tools are available on the genetic side, Decker said. Mostly, the tests are breed-specific. Different tests are used for registered and commercial herds. However, some tests work on crossbred or mixed-breed cattle.

DNA samples can come from blood drawn from a calf's ear or from the root bulb from tail hair. Many producers use convenient tissue sampling units that take a punch from the ear.

New technology allows breeding higher-value animals, selecting traits that improve pregnancy rates and carry through to final product at the packing plant.

To gain full advantage of the advances will take more attention to marketing of cattle.

Those attending can start on being a step ahead in building profits in their beef herds. As cattle prices fall, quality premiums gain value. Efficiency improves and adds sustainability.

For More Information

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Lawrence County, (417) 466-3102; Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551; Randy Wiedmeier, in Douglas County at (417) 679-3525; or Patrick Davis in Cedar County at (417) 276-3313.