A new genomic test from Zoetis enables producers to affordably and accurately predict carcass quality (marbling), yield grades, grid merit and tenderness in a range of straight-bred or crossbred British and Continental breed animals that are less than 75% Black Angus. This easy-to-use new tool, named PredicGEN, evaluates key carcass traits to inform producer decisions regarding replacement females, sire assignment and value predictions for feeder and fed cattle certification and marketing programs.

PredicGEN aids in the selection and mating of replacement females and the marketing of feeder and fed cattle progeny for traits driving USDA quality grade and yield grade, carcass value and consumer satisfaction. The tool gives producers the ability to better differentiate value among young breeding and feeding animals, providing a more timely yet affordable option to traditional carcass and tenderness data collection.

“PredicGEN enables us to connect the beef supply chain, from cow-calf producer to consumer, by informing selection, breeding and marketing decisions,” says Dr. Kent Andersen, associate director of technical services at Zoetis. “Ultimately, PredicGEN enables more rapid across-breed improvement in carcass and consumer traits, better informs price discovery of feeder and fed cattle and at the same time supports consumer-eating satisfaction and associated beef demand.”

As carcass grid merit continues to impact the value of fed cattle, the ability to transfer that value throughout the beef supply chain rewards cow-calf producers for improving carcass- and consumer-related traits, adds Dr. Andersen. By utilizing PredicGEN along with the selection of superior sires based on GE-EPDs, commercial cow-calf producers gain the insight to help ensure market-topping prices for feeder and fed cattle, Andersen says.

PredicGEN was developed using data from more than 10,000 harvested animals with recorded carcass marbling scores, USDA yield grades and high density genotypes. External validation of PredicGEN was completed across a range of commercial feed yard conditions, revealing favorable associations between genomic predictions and expressed carcass performance.

PredicGEN results are presented as easily interpreted scores ranging from 1 to 100, with 50 as the benchmark average amongst the Zoetis reference population, now consisting of roughly 20,000 tested animals. PredicGEN scores for individual traits as well as the carcass grid merit index can then be used in a variety of selection, breeding and marketing decisions.

Practical applications of PredicGEN were demonstrated in a collaborative study between Zoetis, Gardiner Angus Ranch, Triangle H Grain and Cattle, and Top Dollar Angus1. A group of 104 commercial, mixed-continental breed heifers were evaluated using PredicGEN and found to have an average marbling prediction of 36 (14 points below average). The top 2/3, based on predicted genetic merit for marbling (average score of 44), were retained and bred to two proven Gardiner Angus bulls in the top 1% of Dollar Beef ($B) ranking. The resulting progeny tested with PredicGEN had an average marbling score of 72 (22 points above average), graded 95% Choice and higher, and generated $113 in carcass grid premiums2. The results of this trial illustrate the significant increase in carcass value created in one generation through use of superior sires combined with PredicGEN results to inform selection, mating and marketing decisions.

PredicGEN is intended for use in straight-bred and crossbred British and Continental breed beef animals that are less than 75% Black Angus and thus is not suited for GeneMax® tests offered through Angus Genetics, Inc. and Zoetis. Similar to PredicGEN, GeneMax® Focus includes predictions for marbling, sire matching and feedlot gain, but is distributed exclusively through Angus Genetics, Inc. for use in animals that are 75 percent or more Black Angus breed composition. GeneMax Advantage is also for 75 percent and higher Black Angus replacement females and includes the full complement of maternal, feedlot and carcass trait predictions delivered as economic indexes and outlier reporting.

PredicGEN is the latest addition to the Zoetis portfolio of genomic tools for beef cattle producers. Through their range of genomic products, Zoetis enables cattlemen to make more informed decisions regarding genetic advancement, resulting in competitive, profitable beef operations.