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Genetic testing for finishing cattle now being conducted

published: December 20th 2017
source: Texas A&M Beef CAttle Browsing Newsletter

Genomics is being increasingly used in selection of breeding stock. It is best used in that application to enhance accuracy of Expected Progeny Difference (EPD). The technology can also be used for such things as identification of parentage, some coat colors, horns or polled, some genetic defects, and others. And there are other potential uses.

A study was conducted using data from 9,465 cattle fed in six feedyards. Cattle averaged  176 days on feed, ADG was 3.39 lb/day, Yield Grade was 2.70, and 55% graded Low Choice or higher. Genomic predictions were determined when cattle arrived at the feedyard for days on feed, ADG, carcass weight, ribeye area, USDA Yield Grade, marbling, and tenderness. This information was used after feeding and slaughter data were collected to evaluate how (if genomic predictions were implemented at start of finishing) differential length of feeding and marketing by live weight, carcass weight, or grid pricing would have affected financial returns.

Results showed that cattle with higher genetic potential for marbling should be fed longer, than cattle with lower marbling potential, to increase quality grade and marketed on a carcass price grid; those with lower marbling potential should be fed for less time and marketed live or on carcass weight. Sorting (using genetypic information) when placed on feed would reduce variability or risk when marketing on a grid. The authors concluded “using genetic information to sort cattle into marketing groups (live weight, dressed weight, or grid pricing) and to determine optimal days-on-feed increased expected net returns by $1–$13/head, depending on marketing method and grid structure”. Genomic tests for production and carcass traits currently cost from about $20-40/head, depending on what traits are included, but costs are declining as techniques and efficiency are improved.

(Jour. of Ag. and Res. Economics 41(2):286; Purdue Univ., Oklahoma St. Univ.)

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