Don’t Say No to Technology
By Shelby Mettlen
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 5, 2016) — To wrap up the International Genomics Symposium Saturday morning, Nov. 5, at the 2016 Angus Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., three experts gathered for a panel discussion moderated by John Pollak, director of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Neb. Panelists included Ben Hayes, Dan Moser and Stephen Miller.
Australian Ben Hayes leads the “1,000 Bull Genomes Project,” an initiative that aims to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in domestic cattle, while preserving high standards for animal health and welfare. Hayes offered a worldwide look at how genomic profiling of animals is shortening generation interval and improving breeding accuracy of beef cattle. The second-annual International Genomics Symposium was sponsored by Neogen GeneSeek Operations.
Dan Moser, president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI), offered insight into what the affiliate company of the American Angus Association has done, will continue to do and is presently working on to improve the Angus breed through precision genetics, testing and breeding practices.
AGI’s Director of Genetic Research Stephen Miller commended the future of genomics in domestic cattle breeding, saying, “Don’t say ‘no’ to technology,” and asserting that producers must be open to new technology to continue to improve their herds and the Angus breed as a whole.
What’s now, and what’s ahead
Moser started off the discussion by telling Pollak that in years previous he would have “never believed” the advancements in genomics the industry has seen, and that we should “embrace them,” and remain prepared for challenges along the way.
Hayes’s goal is to make genomic evaluations effective across breeds and to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of those evaluations in Bos indicus cattle. Rather than just “snapshots across the genome,” Hayes said he wants to “nail the traits that are causing differences.”
Moser revealed that AGI hopes to soon release an expected progeny difference (EPD) value for carcass tenderness in Angus cattle. He also pointed out work toward EPDs involving regional adaptability, including values for things like fescue tolerance and altitude disease.
Miller pointed out AGI’s progress on structured sire evaluation, and commercial traits and their impacts on cattle health and performance at the feedlot.
Hayes mentioned that he would like to set the stage for a “consumer acceptability EPD,” by testing steaks ordered by customers and restaurants, and breeding cattle to produce meat with characteristics most favorable to consumers.
All panelists agreed that the value of genomic testing is clear, and that producers, researchers and consumers will continue to improve the technology and benefit from it in the years to come.
For additional coverage of the Angus Convention, tune in for The Angus Report on RFD-TV the week of Nov. 21 and watch for coverage in the Angus Journal and the Angus Beef Bulletin. Summaries, speaker presentations, photos, videos and much more will be posted online at www.angus.media.