High-quality, profitable beef made possible by genetic tests

Five meetings explain options.

Source: http://extension.missouri.edu/n/3018
Writer: Duane Dailey, University of Missouri Extension
Story source: Jared Decker, 573-882-2504

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 plan meetings in Maryville, Kingsville, Macon, Springfield and Jackson.

The five meetings are called “Beef Cattle ReproGene” sessions. That’s 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.

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 cut.

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.

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.

Options will be explained in the three-hour sessions. A meal will be served at each location.

Meeting places, times and contacts:

-March 7, Maryville, 5:30-9 p.m. Northwest Technical School. Amie Schleicher, Rock Port, 660-744-6231.

-March 9, Kingsville, 5-8:30 p.m., Kingsville Livestock Auction. David Hoffman, Harrisonville, 816-380-8460.

-March 11, Macon, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Floral Hall, Macon County Park, South Highway 63.  Anita Snell, Milan, 660-265-4541; Daniel Mallory, New London, 573-985-3911.

-March 16, Springfield, 4-8:30 p.m., Springfield Livestock Marketing Center. Eldon Cole, Mount Vernon, 417-383-1635; Andy McCorkill, Buffalo, 417-345-7551.

-March 28, Jackson, 5:30-9 p.m., MU Extension Center in Cape Girardeau County. Erin Larimore, Jackson, 573-243-3581.

Organizers ask for advance registration to plan meals and handouts. Details available from local organizers.

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