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West: Parentage testing for more than sire ID?

Matthew Garcia for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 September 2019

Genetic technologies available for the beef industry are being developed and improving at a dramatic pace. Parentage testing is one of these genetic tests that has been around for a while and traditionally been used to determine which bull sired which calves.

Although sire determination is a major function of this test, I would argue that the information obtained from a parentage test, especially for multiple bull breeding pastures, is equally valuable in two other primary ways.

1. The first way a parentage test brings value to an operation is by giving a producer an idea of actual bull power in their breeding pastures. For example, in a multiple bull breeding pasture, a parentage test will let a producer know exactly how many calves each bull is fathering. This information is valuable for two main reasons. The first reason is based on the EPDs of the bulls; a producer has a more accurate method to predict how specific calves may perform prior to marketing. The second reason is: Parentage information is valuable in that it may provide information improving future selection of bulls in a specific operation. For example, what characteristics does the bull that sired the majority of calves have? Are these good characteristics, and do I want this bull siring this many calves in my herd?

2. The second way parentage testing brings value to a beef operation is by giving a producer another tool to more accurately select replacements. This method will require some data collection and patience to see its true potential because a producer has to wait to see if heifers breed and then evaluate their longevity and productivity in a herd. However, by having parentage data, this gives a producer a better idea of what type of bulls and what characteristics he should look for based on previous cow bull pairings that have produced productive replacements in their herd.

To summarize, parentage testing is a genetic test that has been around for many years. However, using parentage testing provides information that is much more valuable than just what bull sired which calves. It may provide producers a method to increase the productivity and efficiency of their herd going forward. end mark

Matthew Garcia
  • Matthew Garcia

  • Beef Cattle Specialist
  • Utah State University
  • Email Matthew Garcia

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