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J Anim Sci. 2011 Feb;89(2):307-20. doi: 10.2527/jas.2010-3223.

The value of using DNA markers for beef bull selection in the seedstock sector.

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Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The objective of this study was to estimate the value derived from using DNA information to increase the accuracy of beef sire selection in a closed seedstock herd. Breeding objectives for commercial production systems targeting 2 diverse markets were examined using multiple-trait selection indexes developed for the Australian cattle industry. Indexes included those for both maternal (self-replacing) and terminal herds targeting either a domestic market, where steers are finished on pasture, or the export market, where steers are finished on concentrate rations in feedlots and marbling has a large value. Selection index theory was used to predict the response to conventional selection based on phenotypic performance records, and this was compared with including information from 2 hypothetical marker panels. In 1 case the marker panel explained a percentage of additive genetic variance equal to the heritability for all traits in the breeding objective and selection criteria, and in the other case to one-half of this amount. Discounted gene flow methodology was used to calculate the value derived from the use of superior bulls selected using DNA test information and performance recording over that derived from conventional selection using performance recording alone. Results were ultimately calculated as discounted returns per DNA test purchased by the seedstock operator. The DNA testing using these hypothetical marker panels increased the selection response between 29 to 158%. The value of this improvement above that obtained using traditional performance recording ranged from $89 to 565 per commercial bull, and $5,332 to 27,910 per stud bull. Assuming that the entire bull calf crop was tested to achieve these gains, the value of the genetic gain derived from DNA testing ranged from $204 to 1,119 per test. All values assumed that the benefits derived from using superior bulls were efficiently transferred along the production chain to the seedstock producer incurring the costs of genotyping. These results suggest that the development of greater-accuracy DNA tests for beef cattle selection could be beneficial from an industry-wide perspective, but the commercial viability will strongly depend on price signaling throughout the production chain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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