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Genome mapping, a game changer for the beef industry

Source: Wikimedia Commons

We have made great strides in plant breeding over the past 30 years. But how have we done in animal breeding?

A new tool called genome mapping allows breeders to understand the genetic makeup of their animals.

Every breeder wanting to improve the next generation wants to know what the genetic makeup of the animals he or she now owns. In the past, phenotype or appearance was the only clue.

Today, the genomic map can tell if two animals have the potential to produce a superior offspring in many different categories. The dairy industry is the first to prove the mating power of genomics for milk production, and the beef industry is lagging.

An animal scientist examines the reality of improving breeding with this technology.

Animal Scientist Dr. Bob Weaber calls genomics a ‘Game Changer’ for the beef cattle industry. Weaber spoke last week with Ron Hays from the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network.

Animal Scientist Dr. Bob Weaber is back from the Beef Improvement Seminar, where the future of genomics, as it relates to the beef cattle industry, was the main topic of discussion. Genomics, although a relatively new technology, has benefitted dairy producers, allowing them to quickly improve their dairy animals.

Weaber spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about genomics and the opportunity cow/calf producers have to implement genomics into their own operations, in efforts to improve record keeping and assist with breeding decisions.

“If you don’t get on the bus and adopt technology, you’re not just standing still, you’re relatively moving backwards,” Weaber said. “If your competitors adopt a technology and uses a technology to accelerate genetic improvement, that has consequences for your business.”

One question Weaber believes to be important for producers to consider when introducing genomics into their decision-making is how to strategically position themselves to maintain or potentially improve their competitive position. Whatever the answer, Weaber said it would certainly require adoption and effective utilization.

“It’s one thing to genotype a bunch of animals, but it’s a whole other thing to actually use that information in an effective way to make selection and improvement,” Weaber said. “It really changes the way you should think about replacement selection as a seed stock producer.”

Story Source: Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hayes