Genomics Symposium Spotlights Expansion of Angus Toolbox
By Troy Smith
Change often is controversial. Programs for measuring individual animal performance were controversial back when the most trusted means of cattle evaluation was measured by the practiced eye of the master. According to Dan Moser, however, objective methods of evaluating beef cattle that go “beyond the eyeball” have been instruments for positive change.
Speaking during the 2017 Angus Convention in Fort Worth, Texas, Moser talked about new and expanding genetic evaluation technologies that will enhance opportunities for Angus breeders and their commercial customers to implement positive genetic change in their breeding herds. Moser, who is president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI), was joined by fellow AGI staffers Stephen Miller and Kelli Retallick, along with Stewart Bauck of Neogen GeneSeek Operations, in presenting a genomics symposium on new technologies, including the new Angus GS® genetic profile.
Moser reminded the audience that AGI implemented the “single-step” genetic evaluation methodology earlier this year. He explained how it incorporates all pedigree, performance, progeny and genotype information, simultaneously, in the calculation of genomic-enhanced expected progeny difference (GE-EPD) values.
Moser said a key difference from the former multi-step process is the elimination of periodic “recalibration” of EPD calculations to incorporate genomic information. With the single-step method, genomic information is included AGI’s weekly cattle evaluation.
“With genomics updated weekly, we have a more accurate evaluation using genomic information as soon as it is presented,” stated Moser, who noted that GE-EPD value trends have been more consistent since implementation of single-step, without the dramatic EPD value changes that sometimes followed recalibration under the multi-step method.
Moser said work is under way to develop genetic evaluation for more traits, including foot structure and soundness, hair shedding, altitude tolerance, beef tenderness and cow longevity.
“We hope to develop prototype EPDs soon, perhaps within the next year or so,” said Moser.
According to Genetic Research Director Stephen Miller, AGI has collaborated with Neogen GeneSeek Operations to offer next-generation genotyping services and applications for Angus cattle. Miller said the development of a new high-density 50K test, dubbed Angus GS, represents a natural evolution of DNA technology applicable today and into the future.
Available now, the new test features gene markers specific to the breed and includes markers for traits associated with fertility, feed efficiency, tenderness and environmental adaptability.
Bauck, who is Neogen’s vice president of agrigenomics, praised forward-thinking AGI geneticists, noting that Angus GS has international implications for further expanding the Angus breed’s influence globally.
AGI Genetic Service Director Kelli Retallick also announced that new tissue sampling units (TSUs) are now available to Angus breeders. Ear-punch tissue samples can replace tail hair, blood and semen samples for submitting DNA for genetic testing. TSUs are quicker and easier to use, particularly when breeders are collecting samples from large numbers of animals. Retallick said TSUs can now be ordered online from AGI.
For the more on Angus GS, see the Association’s official announcement at http://bit.ly/AAA-AngusGS.
Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract for or by staff of the Angus Journal as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2017 Angus Convention in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 4-6. For permission to reprint, please contact editor Shauna Rose Hermel at 816-383-5270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For complete coverage of the event, visit www.angus.org/Media/News/AngusConvention.aspx.