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Learning from Dairy

The beef industry can learn from the dairy industry’s use of genomics.

by Mayzie Purviance, Angus Media intern


Tom Lawlor, Springfield, Mass., provided interesting insight regarding the use of genomics in the dairy industry as he addressed the first general session of the 2017 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention June 1. Lawlor is a graduate of Cornell University and is currently serving as the director of research for the Holstein Association USA.

Tom Lawlor, Springfield, Mass.

“Nearly every dairy bull worldwide chosen for widespread use is now selected on the basis of genomic predictions,” he shared, noting the dairy industry’s rapid adoption of the technology and the resulting increase in the rate of genetic gain.

Lawlor shared various figures, tips and general information that the beef industry could use in genomic research methods, following dairy’s lead (see the accompanying PowerPoint and proceedings paper). The Holstein industry is using genomics to

  • determine the genetic merit of elite animals at a young age;
  • manage the rate of inbreeding;
  • keep undesirable genetic defects to a low level;
  • identify breed composition of crossbreds;
  • verify or discover parentage;
  • assist in herd management, culling low-end replacement animals earlier and breeding lower genetics to beef bulls; and
  • investigating other genetic issues.

With more than 1.5 million Holstein animals DNA-typed, Holstein breeders are using genotypes to find the best genetics in the world and to develop the best genetics in the world. Lawlor discussed utilizing genomic information, and how collecting more of this information and data over time can lead to genetic improvement throughout the beef industry.

Lawlor spoke on the business of genomics, explaining the business is booming in a competitive market. Lawlor’s third and final point was made about the future, and how the beef industry can use the data and information it already has to produce desirable genetics.

If there is one thing to take away from his presentation, Lawlor said, it is that the genomic industry is ever-changing. Each and every day research is being conducted on genetic improvement, artificial insemination (AI) and embryology. Although the industry is more advanced than it was five years ago, it’s not nearly as advanced as it can and will be.

“It’s not that we’ve done a lot; it’s that we continue to do more and more.” Lawlor concluded.

Editor’s Note: This summary was written under contract or by staff of Angus Media. Through an agreement with the Beef Improvement Federation, we are encouraging reprinting of the articles to those who will adhere to the reprint guidelines available on this site. Please review those guidelines or contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270. PowerPoints are posted with permission of the presenter and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the presenter.

Angus Media’s coverage of the event is made possible through collaboration with BIF. For questions about this site, or to notify us of broken links, click here. Look for additional coverage in the Angus Journal, the Angus Beef Bulletin, the Angus Journal Daily, the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA and Angus TV.

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