By Jamie Courter Ph.D.
As the idea of selecting and marketing cattle backed by data becomes more common, many commercial producers are wanting more information about genomic products currently on the market, and rightly so. Designed to predict genetic merit for crossbred cattle of Angus, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Maine-Anjou, Red Angus, Shorthorn, and Simmental descent, Igenity Beef was developed as a tool to help commercial producers select replacement heifers and market genetically superior cattle. Igenity Beef includes an estimate of genetic merit for 16 maternal, performance, and carcass traits as well as three selection indexes to aid in multi-trait selection.
To investigate the efficacy of Igenity Beef, DNA samples were taken on 4,199 crossbred beef cattle weighing an average of 758.8 lb (SD = 103.0), and ranged from 495 to 1130 lb. Cattle were enrolled in four different feedlots across Washington, Nebraska and Kansas and were fed for an average of 178 ± 0.45 d, and harvested at a consistent backfat thickness. At harvest, performance data were recorded on all animals and included carcass measurements and camera information reported by the processing plant.
The relationship between Igenity Beef scores and average closeout data were estimated using correlations for 12th rib fat thickness (FAT), hot carcass weight (HCW), marbling (MARB), and ribeye area (REA). In general, correlations range from zero, meaning no relationship, to one for a perfect relationship. Among the animals in this study, correlations were 0.31, 0.25, 0.34, and 0.24 for FAT, HCW, MARB, and REA, respectively.
To determine what the genetic merit of these cattle meant in terms of revenue, carcass measurements were combined with the USDA National Weekly Direct Slaughter Cattle Report from the week of September 14, 2020 (Table 1) to simulate expected revenue, per animal, and then compared with that animal’s Igenity Terminal Index value. As a weighted combination of carcass traits reported with Igenity Beef, the Terminal Index should not only provide a great summation of the carcass trait merit that a female could pass down to her offspring, but also the individual performance potential of an animal.
When comparing the top 25% of cattle, based on the Igenity Terminal Index, to the bottom 25%, there were significant differences in performance for many economically relevant traits including hot carcass weight, marbling, and rib eye area (Table 2). Overall, the top and bottom 25% of cattle differed by almost two Igenity Terminal Index scores, which resulted in an estimated revenue difference per animal of $81.91. That would equate to over $83,630 for all 1,021 animals in the top 25%.
Designed to predict genetic potential in commercial crossbred cattle, Igenity Beef not only provides commercial producers with another tool to improve their bottom line, but it may also help with marketing genetically superior, low risk cattle. Using only DNA, Igenity Beef can help predict genetic merit of an animal as a breeder, but also their future performance in many economically relevant traits. Results of this study support this product’s ability to accurately differentiate performance in a feedlot environment.
For more information about Igenity Beef and how it can be used in commercial cattle operations, visit www.igenitybeef.com.