Why Cattle Producers Are Incorporating Genomics

For many in agriculture - the American Angus Association says accuracy and reliability are becoming required tools of the trade. Illinois farmer T.J. Curtin says the use of DNA technology in the cattle industry is much like the use of seed varieties in row-crop operations. He notes seed-corn companies offer much more information on each variety today - which improves accuracy. He likens buying a bull to buying a bag of seed corn - and says he's willing to use genomic technology to offer higher accuracy. Curtin says farmers take risks all the time - and it's of great value when they can lessen that risk. Curtin has come to realize the value additional data provided by DNA testing brings to buyers as they decide what animals to purchase. That's why he decided to bring that technology into his own operation. Curtin is just one in a growing number of cattlemen contributing genomic information into the expected progeny differences (EPDs) produced by the American Angus Association. During fiscal year 2013 - Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) included high-density genomic results on more than 40-thousand in the weekly National Cattle Evaluation - and that upward trend is holding true in 2014 as well.

The American Angus Association says DNA information incorporated into genomic-enhanced EPDs can be a powerful tool for cattlemen wanting to make more rapid herd improvement. In many cases - the association says it's similar to an added 10 to 12 progeny being reported on a given animal. AGI Genetic Service Director Tonya Amen says knowing more about potential breeding stock before they are brought to the farm or ranch allows for more accurate selection and breeding decisions. She says that makes favorable progress in the years ahead more likely. Curtin says this type of technology is significant because we need to feed a growing world on less land. He says we need to identify those superior cattle that can convert feed more efficiently and keep producing more beef with less cattle.

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