Drought increases importance of selection decisions

Farm Forum

This summer’s extensive drought has left feed supplies tight and costs high – making efficient management of herd inventory more important than ever for beef and dairy producers. One way producers can identify the cattle in their herd with the greatest short- and long-term profit potential is through the use of genomics. Investing in genetically superior animals, selecting for economically relevant traits and not investing valuable resources in cattle that don’t possess the genetic capacity to contribute to herd profitability are all important steps to help manage feed costs and assure genetic progress for future profitability.

“Producers who can find solutions to the current short forage and grain supply and increasing feed costs will be the ones who prosper in the future,” says Kent Andersen, Ph.D., associate director, technical services, Pfizer Animal Genetics. “And currently, it’s an expensive time to retain and develop replacement heifers, which makes informed selection and mating decisions all the more important.”

With the help of genomic information, producers have the opportunity to more accurately identify superior heifers earlier in life – rather than delaying decisions regarding which females to retain for breeding and replacement inventory and incurring the additional development costs, Dr. Andersen explains.

“For example, the probability that a heifer will be productive enough for timely recovery of her high rearing costs is significantly influenced by her genetic merit for a variety of maternal traits,” Dr. Andersen says. “With genomic-enhanced genetic predictions, producers can more dependably rank animals for future productivity and make earlier and better decisions about which heifers to retain.”

CLARIFIDE¨ can help commercial dairy producers select, mate and manage Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss dairy females for the best possible return. For beef producers using Angus genetics, both genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs) powered by High-Density 50K (HD 50K) and GeneMax from Certified Angus Beef can help provide greater insight into the genetic potential of breeding cattle.

Dr. Andersen says producers can help reduce feed expenses by using these tools early in an animal’s life for more timely, accurate and complete selection. Droughts come and go, but managing high feed and input costs impacts profitability each and every day.

“Given the current high input costs, producers can benefit from earlier and better selections,” Dr. Andersen says. “Genetic technologies are helping provide information necessary for producers to be more confident in their decisions of which animals to keep and they provide the flexibility of testing early in an animal’s life to help navigate high feed costs.”

To learn more, visit http://www.pfizeranimalgenetics.com, call 1-877-233-3362 or contact your Pfizer Animal Health representative.