Common Questions about DNA Sampling

By Performance Programs | American Angus Association

Are you planning to take DNA samples on calves this fall? Maybe you’re preparing cattle for sale and need results back for a catalog. What are some of the most commonly asked questions or issues with collecting DNA? We're here to tell you, and we have some tips and tricks for sampling.

What sample method is acceptable for twins? 

For twins, either a hair or a tissue sampling unit (TSU) DNA sample is acceptable. Do not use a blood sample for twins.

I use hair
samples. What do I need to know?

Hair samples can be taken on animals four months of age and older. Attach between 20 and 30 stands of hair with the root ball attached to the hair card. Do not cut the hair. Take the sample directly from the switch of the tail with pliers or tweezers. You can see the root balls on the end, and that is where the DNA is located. 

What do I need to know about TSUs?

TSUs must have the accompanying spreadsheet with bar codes emailed or uploaded, because they identify which tube pairs with which calf. Submit this spreadsheet when the order is submitted. TSU tubes must be mailed in a padded envelope or a box. A regular envelope will tear in processing, which results in an empty envelope arriving at the office. 

I am using blood cards for the first time.
Any advice?

No matter the method, make sure the card stays clean from contaminants such as dirt, manure, blood from a different animal, etc. Cover the area designated for the blood sample with blood but do not oversaturate. The samples need to be set out to fully dry before mailing, as mold creates issues when using the sample. 

What is the best way to
submit calves using multiple sires in one pasture?

Before entering calves in the calving book, create a “Sire Group” that includes the bulls the females were exposed to. When entering a calf in the calving book, use the created sire group for the sire information. This will allow the quickest processing and make it relatively easy to compare all sires in the group. 

I am heading to the post office to mail samples. What do I need to know?

Include your order confirmation with the samples. Make sure the samples are clearly identified (which sample goes to which animal). If the samples are time sensitive, overnight or mail with a tracking number, and do not use regular mail. 

How long before the results are in?

From the time the samples are received in the office to the time DNA results are returned, it takes approximately three weeks. Remember that if an animal must be retested or an alternate sample is needed, that will take additional time. Start the process as early as possible before the results are due for a sale or event. 

We hope these reminders help make the process of DNA sampling easy and efficient.
For further assistance, please call the Association or AGI
® service team at 816-383-5100.

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