DNA important to cattle profits

DNA conundrum continues for beef producers

Technology, from the way we communicate to the way we improve our herd’s genetics, is changing at a startling rate. That can be good, and that can be very bad.

My daughter is a high school senior. She is one of the most charming, intelligent people I have ever met. Yes, I’m a proud dad, but like so many of us, her phone is an absolutely indispensable part of her life. 

There are times when I hate that blasted phone. I could make a pretty good argument that if I could go back and change anything I’ve done as a parent, it would have been keeping my kids away from the internet and the “connected” world we all live in, for as long as I could. 

Socially, intellectually, even physically, the internet world has its problems. That blasted phone is an amazing tool, but equally as great of a distraction. There are a lot of negatives that come along with a world where you can be communicating with hundreds of people and not talking face-to-face with anyone. 

With that said, I can’t keep Apple from introducing the iPhone X, any more than I can go back to the landline days where you left a message and expected to hear back from that person in two to three days. The smart phone is now an integral part of our lives—including mine. In fact, I may even have a smart watch before long. As much as I complain, I feel naked when my phone is not within arm’s reach; indeed, there is no going back. 

What does this have to do with the cattle business? The problem isn’t as much about the technology as it is the appropriate use of the technology.

Molecular enhanced EPDs and the genetic revolution have gone through the same phases we have seen with other technology. At first, there are a few bugs in the technology, and it doesn’t work quite as well as we would like. Too often, when millions of dollars have been invested, businesses feel the pressure to get it to market, and as a result, they overpromise and underdeliver in the beginning. 

Eventually, the technology evolves and starts to live up to the potential that was promised. Inevitably, in our excitement, the consumers of the product find ways to misuse the technology. How many relationships have been destroyed as the result of a poorly worded text message or email, rather than a face-to-face meeting? Eventually, we correct and utilize the technology correctly. 

In the cattle industry, the DNA revolution is really starting to take off. The rate of change in the pasture is accelerating to meet the rate of change in the technology. We are reaching the tipping point, where critical mass has finally been reached from a science, dataset and acceptance standpoint.

And with that perfect storm, we are already seeing the benefits and misuses of the technology emerge at a startling rate. It is a paradigm shift. The one thing we can be sure of is that anytime the rules of the game change, there is going to be some discomfort as well. New winners and losers. 

Take basketball. When they changed the shot clock, moved the three-point line and changed the level of physical contact allowed, they changed the way the game is played. Purists and those who loved the role of the big man in basketball don’t like the changes. They will always prefer the game of old. 

It is true that rules can always be changed back, even if they rarely are. Technology, though, is almost impossible to stop. Resistance to change is a fundamental human response, but time spent trying to prevent change as it relates to new technologies also tends to be counterproductive. 

Make sure the science is right, make sure you are using the latest and best information, then work on utilizing the technology better than others. And when the inevitable misuse of the technology occurs, figure out why. 

DNA technology has improved at a rate that is creating problems with our indexes. The solution is not in scaling back the technology, but rather in improving the indexes, and giving breeders the best tools available.  

TAGS: Technology
Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish