Gains in cattle breeding accelerated by genomic technology

The Canadian Angus Association (CAA) has recently taken breeding to a whole new level by incorporating genomic technology in addition to the regular testing of Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs).

Kajal Devani, director of science and technology at the CAA says because of all the data and pedigree information they collect, they’ve put it to good use for the producer to gain valuable information for future breeding.

“My research is to evolve those tools or advance those tools, so recently we’ve done that by adding tools for new traits — feet and leg structure —which really impacts cattle longevity in terms of their ability to move, feed themselves, stay in a herd, and stay productive. It impacts animal health and welfare and consumer trust, same with teat and udder structure,” she explains.

“Our newest project…  (is) high immune response, so EPD for all these traits gives our producer a way to identify animals that have superior genetic potential for these traits and then use them … to develop further generations and improve those traits and we think it’s a fantastic way to add value to Canadian angus genetics and what we do at the breed association.” This is part of the future of breeding, she says.

EPD technology has been around for more than 30 years. She says it was mainly used for “easy” to measure traits such as birth weight or weaning weight. The addition of genomics means there’s so much more to discover and measure so that producers can achieve the optimal product, she says.

“It makes a big difference to the kind of traits we can describe to producers, for example, feed costs producers about 75 per cent of their operation costs and if we can describe to them, or help them identify animals that have the genetic potential to grow the same amount but for less amount of feed, then we’re improving our efficiencies and that makes a big difference to the producers profitability but it also makes a difference to the industries impact on environment and our foot print on the environment.”

Watch the full interview below with RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse and CAA’s Kajal Devani below

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