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Research Project: Behind the Scenes of Phase One

Published December 13, 2022

There has been a ton of excitement over the North American Limousin Research Foundation and the first research project that is underway. Phase one of the NALRF Research project is now complete. 453 head of commercial Angus cows were bred on two separate ranches in Montana in early June via the 7&7 synchronization process. The commercial cows were artificially inseminated to 3 different contemporary groups of 9 sires consisting of Purebred Limousin, Lim-Flex®, and Angus bulls of similar EPD equivalency. NALF Executive Director, Mark Anderson, and DNA Processing & Accounting Assistant, Tammy Anderson, were both very hands-on helping at the ranches and making sure this project was moving in the right direction. Mark took the time to sit down with Limousin Media and answer some questions about the research project and gave a behind the scenes look at phase one.

1. What inspired this research project?

Mark stated the board saw a need for Limousin to have 3rd party research approximately 3 years ago. NALF has never in its 50-year history had a dedicated research foundation to document the breed’s progress. Mark shared, “the NALF board feels it is high time that NALF conducts this independent 3rd party research in order to document not only where the breed is currently at, but also potentially show the advantages of utilizing Limousin genetics in the commercial cattle business. This research should also reflect any potential areas where we may have room for improvement as well.”

2. How much preparation work went into this research project before it began?

“Approximately 3 years’ worth of background work went into the preparation of this research project,” stated Mark. They had around 10 visions committee calls and dedicated discussions at the last 9 NALF board meetings over the past 3 years. He also said it took roughly a year and a half to locate ranches and to find cooperators that were in the same geographic location with commercial Angus cows that they could do research on.

3. What was the day-to-day life like working on the ranch during phase one of the project?

Mark and Tammy spent several weeks in Montana assisting with the research project. Mark said, “Each day primarily consisted of getting cattle gathered and facilities set up so we could process and sync the cows for not only CIDR insertion but also shots. Over the month-long period of spreading out the calving dates on the two ranches, the sync shots were coordinated to fall on different dates because the ranch’s calving dates are a week apart. A good portion of the month was not only helping our ranch cooperators gather cattle and get their facilities ready, but also coordinating a correct calendar to apply the shots for the sync program. When you combine the shots with the AI the cows were run through the chute 4 times.” Mark and Tammy also spent quite a bit of time heat detecting and sorting those cows that were responding on their heats, so they were bred correctly on their AI timing for each breeding schedule.

4. What have the people been like to work with on the Ranches?

“They were very cooperative and very good operators to work with. We took quite a bit of their time because of the 7&7 sync process. We were going through the chutes an extra time or two and both ranches were very cooperative and helpful trying to coordinate their cows to set up for the program and helping round up some additional help from time to time,” stated Mark.

5. What has been your favorite part of the research project this far?

When asked, Mark answered, “the ability and the chance to get some actual research done and verify where we are at from a genetic improvement standpoint as we look to gain market share in the commercial bull business particularly breeding to English-based cows. The value of using Limousin cross with those Angus cows has some real advantages.” Mark also stated that one of the most enjoyable parts has been working with the NALF staff, the NALF board, and Dr. Weaber all of whom are involved in the same mission and goal, to get this research project accomplished. Every board and staff member at NALF has gone all in on this project and has contributed to its launch in some form of participation and financial backing as well.

6. What does the next phase of the research project look like?

When discussing the next phase, Mark explained that it would involve assisting with the caving and the DNA identification of the progeny. They will be there to help the ranchers through the calving period and to identify the cattle and match up pairs to see what their conception rates are in March. Mark said, “We will do parent verification on all the progeny, not only back to the 9 AI sires used, but also to the clean-up bulls that were hauled to both ranches during phase one.” Mark’s goal is to have an acceptable conception rate to have enough calves to ship to South Dakota State University in the fall of 2023 to go on feed and on test. Mark is also looking forward to having Allison, Director of DNA Processing & Accounting Operations, join them in Montana for calving season to help and utilize her skills for the next phase of the project. He said NALF is also looking forward to working with SDSU in the fall of 2023 as the cattle are shipped to their facilities to gain feed performance and carcass data.

7. What do you hope to gain from this research project and how do you think this project will benefit Limousin Breeders?

Mark said he hopes this project will help gauge where we are currently at genetically and find some value to the cross and heterosis gain with Limousin on to an English-based cow herd. “Hopefully, if we are successful and heterosis is captured enough to show the genetic benefits on feed performance, carcass quality, and yield grade advantages, we are going to figure out if we are beneficial on the cross or where we are weak and potentially need to improve,” Mark stated.


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