Monday, September 30, 2013

I Need To Know...

Is she pregnant or not; I need to know.  If you are looking for an easy way to pregnancy check on your schedule, or in between vet herd checks, then DG29 Blood Pregnancy Test might be the perfect fit.  Testing is as easy as 1-2-3
  1. Select animals that are eligible for testing.  Any heifer at least 29 days post breeding and cows at least 90 post calving are candidates.  Selecting cows less than 90 days my result in a false positive.   ET recipients may also be tested on or after day 32 or 25 days after implantation (embryo is at day 7 when implanted + 25 days = day 32). 
  2. Collect the blood sample.  Genex has kits available with all testing supplies needed-blood tubes, needles, needle holders, and shipping containers.  The following is a video on the proper blood collection procedure.  Blood Collection Instructional Video
  3. Submit the sample.  Strategically placed across the US for quick turnaround time, samples may be sent via USPS, UPS or FedEx to Jerome, Idaho, Menomonie Wis. or Ithaca, N.Y. laboratories.  Blood samples need no refrigeration and are good at room temperature for a week.
Results are returned by email, fax or mail within 24 hours after the lab receives the samples.  All labs are running samples Monday through Friday.  The status of pregnancy is reported as positive (pregnant/embryo in development) or negative (open).  Using this test will help identify open cows and heifers earlier in turn decreasing days open and increasing profits.

So if you need to know the pregnancy status of your dairy or beef animals, talk with your Genex Representative to learn how the DG29 Blood Pregnancy Test might be the perfect fit in your reproductive program.

Check out the Genex website for more information.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What is JUI™?

JUI - what is it and how should it be used?
Jersey Udder Index(JUI) was established as a reference tool for Jersey breeders to use when selecting sires. Formulated by the American Jersey Cattle Association, JUI is based on lifetime profitability. The respective weights of each trait in the formula are based on the traits relation to lifetime profitability.

Calculation of the Jersey Udder Index
This index is the sum of a sire’s Predicted Transmitting Abilities (PTA) for udder traits multiplied by their weights in the Functional Trait Index: Jersey Udder Index (JUI10) = [(.30 x FU) + (.35 x RUH) + (.61 x RUW) + (1.0 x UD) + (.85 x UC) + (.10 x TP) + (0 x TL)]
When you split out the weights of JUI, the highest priority trait is udder depth. Nearly one third of the index is based on this trait. Following udder depth in importance is udder cleft. Udder depth and udder cleft together make up well over half of the JUI index. The third and fourth priority traits are rear udder height and rear udder width respectively. Rounding out the final traits for the JUI index include fore udder and teat placement.

The thing to keep in mind when referencing the JUI index is that JUI needs to be balanced with production traits. Because there are such high weights on udder depth and udder cleft, often times functionally correct and highly profitable sires will not see the extremes in their JUI rankings. As a reference point, based on the August 2013 sire summary, ranges for JUI on all active sires is -3.00 to +7.53.

The top Genex JUI sire is 1JE00812 HAWTHORNE (Zuma x 90 pt. Paramount). HAWTHORNE comes in with a +5.12 JUI and complements this with huge Cheese Merit Dollars (CM$) of +584. In the number two spot, 1JE00806 TORONTO fits in with a +5.06 JUI. TORONTO hails from one of the most popular cow families of the breed with TORONTO’s dam being Heartland Nathan Texas-ET, EX-95%. When highlighting JUI, 1JE00654 ALLSTAR has to be mentioned. With over 300 daughters scored in his type proof, ALLSTAR keeps climbing on his JUI ranking and comes in at +4.51 with 96% reliability.

When looking at the Genex active sire listing, post August 2013 proofs, we boast an impressive JUI across all active sires of +2.85. Our GenChoice™ active lineup comes in just a hair under +3.00 JUI (+2.97) and carries an industry leading total number of available sires as well as elite pedigree diversity. As with any index, JUI should be used as one tool in the bigger picture of fitting your genetic needs.

Author Leah James is our U.S. Jersey Marketing Manager.  James grew up on a family dairy farm and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education. She has since worked within the artificial insemination industry and for the American Jersey Cattle Association. Today, she and her husband also operate a 125-cow dairy consisting of registered Holsteins, Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How Genetic Recessives Work

Recently the American Angus Association announced the discovery of a genetic condition known as Developmental Duplication (DD). The condition is thought to be inherited as a simple recessive. In the case of DD, animals that are born affected by the condition are relatively rare as most DD affected pregnancies result in early embryonic death. Developmental Duplication is not the first genetic condition to be discovered in recent years, nor will it be the last. The discovery of DD has caused quite a lot of press in the past couple of weeks, and even some panic among breeders. For this reason I think it is important to step back and review how simple recessives work and how with a carefully managed breeding program you can avoid seeing affected animals in your herd.


A calf exhibiting the affects of Developmental Duplication.

Before we begin a discussion of genetic recessives it is important to understand a little bit about genetics and inheritance of genes. Phenotype is the external appearance of an animal. For instance, an animal’s phenotype would include coat color. Genotype refers to the actual genes that an animal has or the animal’s genetic make-up. Traits are the result of at least one pair of genes, one of the genes being inherited from an individual’s mother; the other is inherited from an individual’s father. When both genes in a pair are the same, they are called homozygous genes. If they are different they are known as heterozygous genes. Sometimes one of the genes in a pair is dominate over the other gene (recessive). When this happens the gene that is dominate is the gene that is expressed as an individual’s phenotype, even if the individual’s genotype is heterozygous for that trait/condition. The only way the recessive gene is expressed is if an individual has two copies of the recessive gene. It is important to note, that even though we often talk about genetic recessives in a negative context, such as the case with DD, a recessive is not necessarily negative or lethal. In cattle other examples of recessives include coat color (black being dominate to red) and horned/polled condition (polled being dominate to horned).

In the case of developmental duplication, and other simple recessive conditions, there are two possible phenotypes that an animal can have and three possible genotypes. The two possible phenotypes are a completely normal looking animal not affected by the condition and an animal that is affected by the condition resulting in either early pregnancy loss or possibly a calf born with extra limbs. The genotypes that can be expected are:
  • DD – or an animal that receives a copy of the gene from both its mother and its father that is free of the mutation
  • Dd – this animal’s outward appearance is totally normal and healthy, however they carry one copy of the gene that carries the mutation, an animal with this genotype is referred to as a carrier as they can pass on the mutated gene to their offspring without being affected themselves
  • dd – this is an affected animal, the copies of the gene that it received from both its mother and its father carry the developmental duplication mutation.

The question becomes how can you best manage developmental duplication in your herd? The first option is going to be the most time consuming and costly. You can genetically test all the cows in your herd that are potential carriers for DD (the American Angus Association recently announced the release of a commercially available test for DD by Zoetis, read about it here) and cull those cows from your herd. Then make sure that all A.I. and herd sires you use are free of the genetic defect as well. For many people this will be the way they choose to manage and eliminate the developmental duplication gene from their herd.

The mating of a bull with a genotype of DD to a cow with a genotype of DD results in all potential offspring having the DD genotype.

The other option is a carefully managed breeding program. Since we know that in order to get an affected calf both the mother and father must be carriers you can choose to not test any of your cows that are potential carriers if you only use bulls that are non-carriers. If you would still like to use bulls that are carriers, you need to avoid breeding a carrier bull to any cows that are potential carriers or test your cows and avoid breeding carriers to carriers.

The mating of a bull with a genotype of DD to a cow that is a carrier of the condition (genotype Dd) will result in 50% of their potential offspring having a genotype of DD and 50% of their potential offspring being carriers for the condition with the genotype Dd.  None of their potential offspring will be affected by the condition.

The mating of a carrier bull (genotype Dd) to a carrier cow will result in 25% of their potential offspring having a genotype of DD, 50% of their potential offspring being carriers for the condition with the genotype Dd, and 25% of their potential offspring being affected by the condition with a genotype of dd.  This mating should be avoided.

Whatever your method of managing developmental duplication or other genetic conditions in your herd you can be assured that Genex will continue provide you with high quality semen, from bulls whose carrier status we know, so that you can make informed breeding decisions. In this age of genomic testing this is certainly not the last new genetic condition that will be documented so knowing all your options for managing them in your herd is essential.


Author, Sarah Thorson, is our Beef Education Manager. Sarah grew up in Eastern Montana on her family's ranch. She is a graduate of Montana State University and has been a member of the Genex team since 2004. Sarah works closely with the Genex Beef Marketing Staff, providing training to the cooperative's nearly 200 Independent Contractors. She also provides Artificial Insemination training for Genex members and customers and reproductive consulting.