Dan Moser Genomics

(Sam Capoun) Welcome to AGam in Kansas. I’m your guest host Sam Capoun and today we’re sitting down with Dr. Dan Moser. Dr. Dan, a lot of people don’t really understand genomics. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how it works? (Dr. Dan Moser) Sure, so genomics is just the idea of DNA testing. It’s using a DNA sample from a blood sample or a hair sample, at least in the case of cattle, to identify more about the animal, to try to understand their genetics by studying the DNA. In the end, that gives us a fairly accurate prediction of what that animal’s potential is for a trait like growth or even marbling or reproduction. (Sam) You talked a little bit there about the benefits but why are people really wanting to do this? (Dr. Dan) Well, the thing about genomics is it allows us to learn something without taking a lot of measurements. There’s value in knowing more about cattle whether you are talking about a replacement female and putting her back into the herd, knowing about her potential for siring calves that are more efficient in the feedlot or her potential for longevity. All those things really impact the profit potential so helping producers have more information to make those decisions impacts their bottom line. (Sam) Now, this is a relatively new technology and I understand that the cost is pretty high right now. Can you talk a little bit about the cost and what you see for it in the future? (Dr. Dan) Sure, it depends on whether we are talking about a commercial producer versus a registered seed stock producer and the cost has come down actually quite a bit from three or four years ago. Producers were paying almost $150 for a DNA test on a registered animal and now that cost has down to less than $50. (Sam) Wow, that’s pretty great. (Dr. Dan) In the commercial space for commercial cow-calf producers, there are a variety of tools and they run somewhere from $17 to $39 per test per animal and those higher priced tests give you more information. The $17 test would give you prediction of some of the carcass traits like marbling and feedlot gain, traits that are hard to measure on the ranch and that a producer that sells their calves may not really know much about the genetics that they have. Some of the more expensive tests are more comprehensive and they get into reproduction, cow longevity, some of those sort of things too. (Sam) Now, this is really good for commercial producers you had talked about earlier because it’s a way for them to trace back the parents of the animal. Talk a little bit about that. (Dr. Dan) Yes, so while the trait predictions are interesting but the other part that people don’t think about is just the parentage. If you are using multiple bulls in mating or if you have maybe artificial insemination followed by a cleanup bull, then we can use the DNA also to track the parentage of the animals and tell you which heifers are sired by which bull. That information you can use in marketing and selection, potentially in mating those heifers as well. That component also adds value. (Sam) Well, it certainly is an exciting technology. Thanks for sharing all the information today and thanks for joining us on AGam in Kansas. (Dr. Dan) Sure.

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