Monday, August 24, 2015

The Full Story Behind W/C Wide Track 694Y

By Jackie Atkins, The American Simmental Association and Lindsay Johnson, Genex

This spring, a high-impact Simmental bull, W/C Wide Track 694Y, was erroneously named a carrier of Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA), also known as fawn calf syndrome. After further investigation, it became clear that Wide Track was in fact free of the defect. What happened to lead to such a monumental mistake? Here is the full story from American Simmental Association (ASA), Genex Cooperative, Inc. and the Werning family.

As part of an effort to screen the most-used bulls in the ASA registry, the ASA in collaboration with Genex, Accelerated Genetics, Select Sires and Allied Genetic Resources, sent in samples on all SimGenetic bulls available through these companies for extended genetic condition testing.  On April 16, 2015, the ASA received results on 249 sires tested for the following conditions:

AM = Arthrogryposis Multiplex, a.k.a. Curly calf (Angus)
DL = Dilutor (Hereford)
IE = Idiopathic Epilepsy (Hereford)
NH = Neuropathic Hydrocephalus, a.k.a. water head (Angus)
OS = Osteopetrosis, a.k.a. Marble bone disease (Red Angus)
PHA = Pulmonary Hypoplasia with Anasarca (Shorthorn and Dexter)
TH = Tibial Hemimelia (Shorthorn)
HY = Hypotrichosis (Hereford)
CA = Contractural Arachnodactyly, a.k.a. Fawn calf (Angus)
DD = Developmental Duplication (Angus)

One bull, W/C WIDE TRACK 694Y (ASA # 2588250), was reported a CA carrier. Dr. Jon Beever conducted further testing on the original sample (two additional tests) and concluded the sample was in fact a carrier of CA. Wide Track had an Angus cow, of unknown pedigree, four generations back in his pedigree making it unlikely, but feasible, that he carried the CA gene. As the dam and sire of Wide Track did not have DNA on file, the Wernings sent in samples for parent verification and CA testing to both Dr. Beever and GeneSeek.   

In the meantime, Genex pulled Wide Track from their lineup. Announcements were sent out from Genex (April 20) and ASA (April 26) to notify their members.

“For those Genex members and customers who had purchased Wide Track semen within the past 24 months, Genex issued a credit for any semen that hadn’t been used,” states Willie Altenburg of Genex Beef Genetics.

During that same time, the Werning family pulled Wide Track from the herd and made the decision to have him put down.

“We don’t believe in using a carrier bull so didn’t see any value in keeping him around,” states Scott Werning, Werning Cattle Company. “We realized there was the potential for him to sire clean calves; however, we didn’t want to be known for propagating the defect. We knew putting him down was the right thing to do.”

On May 6, Dr. Beever notified ASA and Genex that neither of Wide Track’s parents were carriers of CA. This is not possible unless 1) the original CA report was wrong or 2) the parentage was wrong. Dr. Beever isolated a new sample of DNA from Wide Track which tested free of Contractural Arachnodactyly. Dr. Beever then obtained a new straw of semen from Genex and tested that sample. Again, the sample came back CA-free. On May 8, Genex and the ASA announced that Wide Track was indeed CA-free and the original testing was an error. The reported parentage was confirmed with GeneSeek on May 15, 2015. 

“When we learned Wide Track was CA-free, many customers, who had received credit for Wide Track semen, used that credit to purchase more Wide Track semen,” states Altenburg. “That tells you how well our customers like the bull. Today, a limited amount of Wide Track semen is still available from Genex.”

The obvious question is, “Why was the original sample positive?” The simple answer is we still don’t know. All the samples in the same order were retested twice and all came back free so there was not a simple swap. It is unclear how the original sample was contaminated; but, there is no doubt that Wide Track is free of these 10 genetic conditions.  

Ten Signs You May Work for an A.I. Company (and we’re not talking artificial intelligence)

What do you think? Have any to add? Give me your best 10 signs you are a farmer/rancher. I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dairy Synchronization: A Learning Experience - Part 3

By Brooke Schultz, Communications Coordinator, CRI 

After learning about waves and magic, we’ve come to the last part of synchronization (I know, I know – finally). No discussion of synchronization would be complete without talking about Resynch. This is an important aspect of synchronization because not all cows become pregnant at first breeding and require at least one resynchronization to conceive. 

Resynch is applied around a non-pregnancy diagnosis and helps to quickly returns the animal to another timed A.I. Resynch helps to shorten the number of days between inseminations and improve the efficiency and profitability of an operation. There are several dairy Resynch methods to choose from.

Now, how does Resynch shorten the number of days between inseminations? Since not all cows become pregnant after first insemination, this leaves a number of animals open. The earliest time they can be re-inseminated is when they return to heat at around 21 days. Those that do express heat at this point are re-inseminated at the most optimum time (which probably turns out to be the most inconvenient time for you, of course). Here is where the challenge lies, however, because a significant number of cows do not display estrous before pregnancy diagnosis. Thus, an alternative method, Resynch and its series of injections, must be used if you want to reach peak reproductive efficiency.

When properly implemented, Resynch permits timed A.I. to occur as soon as three days after a non-pregnancy diagnosis on all animals confirmed open. Yes, you read that right – three days! This leads to cows being rebred in a timelier manner and shortens span between inseminations. As a result, Resynch improves the efficiency of a reproductive program and thus improves profitability of an operation.

With Resynch, timed A.I. can occur as soon as 3 days after non-pregnance diagnosis.
Resynch permits timed A.I. to occur as soon
as 3 days after non-pregnancy diagnosis!

With all that being said, synchronization seems like a no-brainer in many situations. An operation is only as successful as its profitability, and an operation is only as profitable as the quality of its livestock, and the only way a producer can improve the quality of his livestock is by breeding and re-breeding in a timely fashion (and using Genex genetics, of course). 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dairy Synchronization: A Learning Experience - Part 2

By Brooke Schultz, Communications Coordinator, CRI

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the dairy cattle estrous cycle (even though it doesn’t really seem that basic at all), let’s leap into the next part of synchronization – Ovsynch.

Ovsynch is used on many dairies. It can be an important ingredient to the success of a reproductive program and has helped make many operations more profitable. This is directly related to Ovsynch enabling producers to get cows inseminated in a timelier manner. We all know your time is precious, so even though you’re taking 10 minutes out of your day to read this, you’ll make up for the lost time tenfold with synchronization.

So, on to the nitty gritty of Ovsynch.

Ovsynch was developed in 1995 (wow, that's 20 years ago already) to increase service rates and improve the overall reproductive efficiency of an operation. It allows a cow to be inseminated without observing signs of estrous and is particularly helpful in situations where heat detection is a challenge.

The term Ovsynch is short for ovulation synchronization (bet you never could have guessed that). The process begins with the administration of GnRH (see Graph 1) which causes ovulation and the start of a new follicular wave (back talking about those waves again - I told you they were important!). Prostaglandin (PGF2α) is given seven days later and brings about regression of the corpus luteum. Two to three days after the prostaglandin shot (time is dependent on the protocol selected), a final injection of GnRH is given which causes ovulation of the follicle contained in the new follicular wave. Ovulation occurs 24 to 32 hours after the second GnRH. 

Therefore, if working with a group of cows enrolled in this protocol, those that respond will experience synchronized ovulation (makes me think of synchronized swimming); they will all ovulate within an eight-hour period. Insemination is completed at a prescribed time and allows semen to be present as the cows are ovulating. This leads to protocol success.
The Ovsynch Process for Ovsynch 56

To break it down just a bit simpler for you:

Ovsynch 56 Steps
1. Initial ovulation is caused by the first GnRH shot.
2. The corpus luteum is regressed on day 7 by the prostaglandin shot.
3. The second ovulation is caused by the final GnRH shot given 56 hours after the prostaglandin.
4. Timed A.I. occurs 16 hours after the final GnRH shot.

What tools can help improve
dairy repro? Magic, of course!
If only magic was synonymous
with science ...
Seems simple enough, right? Don’t worry – we’ve still got more to add to the mix. Only for your benefit, of course.

Lo and behold, there’s something you can do to receive even higher conception rates than just using Ovsynch.

Presynch, short for presynchronization, is a series of injections given prior to administration of the Ovsynch protocol. Presynch, when used in conjunction with Ovsynch, can lead to higher conception rates over Ovsynch alone. The result of this combination is a protocol that is longer than the standard 10-day Ovsynch, and therefore is only recommended for use with first service breedings. What is the cause of this improved fertility? Magic, of course! If only magic was synonymous with science ...

The peak ovulation rate to GnRH is between days 5-10 of the estrous cycle

In all seriousness, Presynch is a means of synchronizing the cycles of a group of animals. It places the cows between days five and 10 (see Figure 1) of the estrous cycle prior to administering the Ovsynch protocol. The advantage of grouping cows at this stage of the cycle is the high likelihood these animals will ovulate to the first shot of GnRH at the beginning of Ovsynch. This is the key to the increased fertility. Beginning Ovsynch at any other stage in the cycle results in lower rates of ovulation when GnRH is given.

Various studies have shown that Presynch – Ovsynch protocols increase fertility by approximately 7% to 9% over Ovsynch alone! There are a variety of Presynch options available. Those Presynch methods can be used prior to any of the Ovsynch methods shown on the link.

Stay tuned for the final article in this series. You got it - we'll be focusing on resynchronization!