Genetic testing has become standard for seedstock suppliers and is gaining acceptance with cow-calf producers. But because the tests are breed-specific, cow-calf operations using crossbreeding were left out of the loop.
That’s changed. The first genetic test in the beef industry that measures heterosis in crossbred cattle has been released by Neogen Corporation, called Igenity + Envigor. In cattle, heterosis is the tendency of a crossbred calf to show traits superior to those of its parents.
“Envigor is an important release for us as it represents many years of research and planning to create a tool that helps commercial producers get the most out of their crossbreeding programs,” said Stewart Bauck, DVM, Neogen’s vice president of agrigenomics. “Igenity + Envigor will provide producers with an avenue to select better replacements and make genetic progress in traits of relevance to their operations.”
Envigor adds several new features to Neogen’s existing Igenity Beef platform. In addition to the 16 traits reported with Igenity Beef, Envigor provides an estimate of heterosis in crossbred cattle on a scale from 1 to 10. A higher score indicates increased heterosis.
“Envigor is based on characterizing genomic data of relevant U.S. breeds, with breed composition placed into a retained heterosis formula,” said Jamie Courter, Ph.D, Neogen’s beef product manager. “Good crossbreeding programs have proven that heterosis leads to increased fertility, lower cull rates, more pounds weaned per cow exposed and greater feed efficiency. Rather than replace an effective crossbreeding program on its own, Envigor will help ranch owners make more informed decisions.”
Analysis by Neogen’s research and development team has found that a one-score-increase in Envigor leads to a 4% increase in the probability of a heifer getting pregnant alongside a 4% increase in her likelihood to stay in the herd for six years. Both are critical traits regarding the bottom-line-impacting costs of raising replacement heifers.
“Envigor represents Neogen’s commitment to partner with commercial cattlemen to deliver a total genomic solution for their herd,” said Bauck. “We are solely focused on providing the best tools that continue to drive genetic progress, and the commercial producer, forward.”
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