Future genetics

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Well-known member
Jan 29, 2007
I was at a symposium thing (mostly beef genetics) yesterday and came out with some interesting things to think about.  Thought I would get some input.....

Ok so in the future we are going to have more genetic selection tools at hand.  Maybe EPD's on more traits, and of course, more marker assisted selection.  But one speaker thought that the commercial guys aren't going to be interested in the EPD's and selection indexes much.  Instead it would be the purebred breeders focusing on that stuff, and providing "custom" breeding stock for customers (remember a small number of large ranches have a lot of cattle, so some of these breeders have one ranch needing lots of bulls).  The commercial guys might be a little more interested in genomics (markers).  What do you guys thing about that?

Do you think if across breed EPD's, and cross-breed EPD's were widely available (they do exist by the way, but they aren't really able to be practically applied overall) that that might change the dynamics?

[Note...I already know how some of you feel about turnign in EPD numbers and all that, but lets just remember for this discussion, that there ARE plenty of people out there who use them]

Is branded beef the way to go?

National ID.  Now remember in Canada we're ahead of you, so it's already well established and we have moved from the barcode tags to the RFID, which are pretty easy to read information from.  So, my question isn't whether the ID is needed, so let's for the sake of discussion, say it happens.  What do you think about the idea of being able to track all the information over an animals life?  How would this affect marketing, and breeding?

What's farming's future in your area?  We are all over so this should be interesting.  If you are in urban sprawl, are 0 emission biodome farms going to be the only way to have intensive farms (like dairies and feedlots)?  What about the land?  What are we going to have to feed?

Some research was done on sheep, where ewe stayability in relation to her production traits was looked at.  Now in one way you might expect ewes that have high litter sizes and give a lot of milk to wear themselves out and not have longevity.  But in fact they found the opposite.    He called it "Good Ewe Syndrome" and while the research hasn't been done, he does suspect there is a "good cow syndrome" as well.  So I thought about my cows and sure enough....for example the one that moved from fall calving to first to calve in spring in her first 3 years just by breeding back quickly, raises the nice big calves, and is now 13 and going strong, among others.  So think about yours...do you have "good cow sydrome"  What do you think the cause might be?  (Now I know in commercial herds we cull for production, so you might not see it, but in the experiment they did not....he said he had to ask 4 times because he couldn't believe it  ;D)

Phew...that was a lot....but it should be interesting.


Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Great information & things to ponder Genes! (clapping)

I try to follow EPD's as close as possible. I turn my weights in & try to keep my records up to date. That being said, I'm only working off 15 cows for myself here. The farm doesn't do as nearly as complete a job. ::) They do weigh the calves & weigh again when weaned so that's better than some.
I'm a little sceptical on some BW's of bulls, especially when the come from certain bloodlines. So I take that into consideration.

On the future of farming in my area. It's going to a lot more contract buildings, larger livestock facilities & corporations. That said, we also have a huge influx of Amish buyers who have small farms but can pay the price for them. We farm 3500 acres & travel 6 counties to do so. We have to go 45 minutes by pick-up to get to the farthest. Takes a couple of hours via combine. We also are very diversified doing a lot of custom work & ditching. We are surviving but who knows what the future will hold.

I'll have to ponder the other topics. I'm not real strong on the ID program although we are enrolled.



Well-known member
Feb 7, 2007
Blue Rapids, Kansas
I have three things say.

1. Genetic markers.
2. Genetic markers.
3. Genetic markers.

Either get on board, or remain ignorant forever! Every Tom, Dick, and Harry sending homemade EPD's into a national database makes about as much sense as carcass graders having a predetermand list of results before their shift starts! 

Animal ID? It"s coming ready or not. Registered horse and cattle breeders can trace every move they'er stock makes during a lifetime. Why not everybody else?

What? Did those university fellas just wake up from a 100 year nap? Good cows last a long time, hmmm...kinda like discovering the link between tenderness and disposition.


Well-known member
Feb 7, 2007
Hollister, CA
EPD's should have one for EED, expected environmental difference.  animal id cost benefit analysis is nowhere to be seen.  why don't we do it for people too since we can.  farming in my area (hollister CA) has switched from a hay growing area which shipped to kentucky, think about that for efficiency, to trees to lettuce in the span of about 40 years.  in the san francisco bay area, it went from orchards to chips in 40 years even with the best soil and growing conditions in the world, where we are growing billionaires now.  farming is under extreme pressure which is causing some interesting change in that people are growing specialty crops for millionaires to throw money at at fancy restaurants that wolfgang puck and alice waters charge outrageous prices with minimal prep which anyone could do at home (see recipe section in other thread).  ranching is mostly owned by people who homesteaded and were able to transfer land before taxes took a bite, or by uber rich such as the hewlett packard family etc.  from what i've seen locally, people aren't that interested in the molecuar markers, they are more interested where they can get hay if it rains 12 inches instead of 14.  I think there is not enough research and deployability of efficiency of the rumen and bacteria and environment effect and the focus for research could focus on that a little more as genetics is actually starting to wind down as far as making a profit.  i feel that as soon as enough animals get out there that can grade appropriately, there will be a new driver for profitability elsewhere, which will be production costs and location and niche markets.  it may seem weird, but i thinks the world is in for a changing with all the pressure on water, so we will need genes that exel with minimal inputs.  i'm not slighting genetic markers here, i'm just saying they will be accepted and used as the marginal players get eliminated with it's wave and the next one will be who can pay property taxes and the water bill, at least in CA.  if you like blenheim apricots, one of the few places left that grow them is hollister and there is only 5-6 orchards left of any consequence.  too much competition from turkish apricots you can't taste.  why people buy them i don't know, oh i know, they are cheaper.  ugh  for straight farming as majority of revenue, you have to go to the central valley, the historic san juaquin valley, which land prices is lower and where the housing bubble is bursting big time.  just for fun, try this site

http://flippersintrouble.blogspot.com/  which chronicles people who try and flip houses for a profit and are getting caught.  this is different than the people who actually wanted to buy a home live there and used an interest only loan and got caught when rates went up and is the source of the subprime panic going on right now.

branded beef, hmmm, i think the price points are going to see some volatility. yet people respond to a story out here.

since wheat was 2.25 when truman was president and the government is motiviated to keep food prices low and depopulate rural areas so they can control the populace easier, beef can't run too far from that, even with the ethanol scare going on because we are going to find out that corn is going to be a fad and something else will surface as it always does in capitalism.  first we had whales, then oil, then ethanol, then switch grass, then methane, then.........  corn ethanol is going to be like trying to get that perfect steer with PHA bloodlines even thought there is an ethanol plant in practially every county in iowa and even though people running for the senate in CA are scamming taxpayers to subsidize their operations which should have competition.

as far as commuting goes, i commute 75 miles each way every day to work, sometimes by train so i can live in the country, watch the chickens sift throught the manure, have a honda hybrid.

the future is water.