How Genotyping Can Improve Your Herd

How Genotyping Can Improve Your Herd


This is Bill and his wife Mary. He is a third-generation farmer, and together,
they run the family farm.When his grandparents started the farm,
they bred their cows by making breeding decisions based on things like physical features, production
capacity, and how they calved. They would then have to wait several years
to see if those decisions were right. But times have changed, and to maintain profitability,
farmers like Bill need to find ways to produce more with less. Bill wants to breed cows that will produce
a better-quality product, increase productivity, and add value to his farm—and he can’t
afford to wait years to know if he is making the right breeding decisions. How can he do this? With help from a proven technology called
genotyping. Genotyping is quick, easy, and can yield gains
for farmers like Bill. It’s simple to get started, and there are
breeding organizations and service providers that can help. When a calf is anywhere from a few days to
a few months old, Bill can take a cartilage sample from its ear or pull a few tail hairs. The sample is sent off to a genotyping lab
for testing. In a few weeks, Bill will get results that
identify specific traits in his calves. He will receive information on fertility,
maternal performance, disease tolerance, hoof health, calving ease, capacity for calving,
growth, as well as muscle and skeletal development and relevant genetic disorders. Having these insights will help him make informed
breeding decisions and create mating plans that improve key traits, correct deficiencies
in the herd, and maximize the potential of his animals. Using genotypes to more precisely make breeding
decisions is called genomic selection. Bill can also use the results for calving
ease to match heifers with the right size bulls or he can choose not to breed cows with
poor genetics. And because he now knows which heifers and
bulls are carriers for specific genetic disorders, he can avoid risk pairings and reduce the
chances of a calf being born with a genetic defect. Bill and Mary can also use the information
from genotyping to improve the quality of beef and dairy products, ultimately increasing
their income, which they can invest back into their farm and animals. How can genomic selection increase the profitability
of your farm?

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