Can SNP Panels Lead the Beef Industry Forward?

US - Bull breeders have been anxious to use gene markers to spring their breeding programs forward at a faster pace since these tools were released a few years ago.
calendar icon 18 November 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

But does the technology live up to the hype it’s received? This question and topics closely tied to SNP panels will be addressed at an upcoming Iowa Beef Center seedstock conference in Ames, Iowa, on 10 December.

SNPs relate to various production traits in beef cattle.

“Most breeders have not had a good understanding of what these past gene markers were capable of doing,” said Daryl Strohbehn, Iowa State University Extension beef specialist with the Iowa Beef Center. “Now bull breeders are trying to make important economic and genetic improvement decisions that involve the use of even more complicated genetic evaluations, which are coming from high-density SNP panels.”

A number of companies are competing today in the genomics arena, making it even more challenging for bull breeders to decide which to use and how best to apply them to their breeding program.

“The application of these SNP panels comes into question when one tries to apply them across broad populations of breeding cattle, especially when some of them can be breed specific,” Strohbehn said. “Some producers are questioning whether they add enough to the accuracy of genetic predictions to make them worth the investment. And that is an important question to be answered by both bull breeders and their customers when young bulls are being purchased for use.”

The Dec. 10 Iowa Beef Center seedstock conference, “Applying Old Rules to New Technology Production” will feature both Jim Reecy, Iowa State University animal science associate professor, and Darrh Bullock, University of Kentucky Extension beef cattle genetics professor. They will present information on beef cattle genomics and their incorporation into genetic predictions and selection programs.

Reecy has been at the forefront of the discovery and development of SNPs. Bullock has been on the other side of the genetic equation, which is relating how to best use these informational tools in advancing bull breeding programs.

The conference will be held at the Quality Inn, Ames, from 12:30-8:30 p.m. For more conference information, including a complete agenda and registration information, go to

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