Oklahoma Rancher Uses Genetic Testing for SelectionTue, 13 Aug 2013 14:56:16 CDT
Oklahoma rancher Joe Mayer says, “There’s a lot of difference in performance in good cattle and in average cattle.”
He knows that in any given pen of cattle, several hundred dollars can separate the top from the bottom. Even the most acutely trained eye can’t often pick which will earn money and which will lose money when they show up in the feedlot, he says. Unless they have more information on what’s under the hide.
“It’s one thing for somebody to tell you how good these cattle are, but it’s another thing to show you. And you can show how good these cattle are based on the genetic component, by the EPD’s on the sire that the cattle are out of. There’s a lot of black cattle out there so some are much better than others. And if you have the genetic component, the EPDs or the sires that those cattle are out of, that tells you a lot more than just the fact that they’re black cattle.”
Keeping detailed genetic records are a real ace in the hole when it comes to marketing, Mayor says, but adding genetic testing on top of that simplifies breeding, too.
“It’s a way to improve your cow much quicker than the old, traditional way. And we used to not know if a heifer was going to make it until she had her second calf, because it took that long to get results on the feeding the first time through. So, it’s just sped up the process and added some surety.”
Mayer added the Gene Max test to his genetic toolbox last year as he wrestled with drought-induced culling. The test indicates an animal’s propensity to grade-two very important factors in deciding how to develop each one when feed is scarce.
“We can Gene Max baby calves and that gives us information to determine what we’re going to do with those. Are we going to retain them as heifers for ourselves? Are we going to sell them as a bred heifer? Are we going to feed those cattle? Or what are we going to do with them. And that gives you the answer.”
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