DNA Requirements and Rules

Embryo Transfer (ET) Calf DNA Requirements

All purchased embryos must be parent-verified to both the sire and dam in order to be eligible for registration. Both sire and donor dam must be approved in Herdbook prior to registering progeny. Embryos Registered Under Donor Dam’s Membership Account ET calves being registered by a member who owned the donor at time of flush are not required to have parent verification testing, although it is highly recommended.

AI Sire and Donor Dam DNA Requirements

As of July 2020, ASA effectively replaced the GGP-150K (formerly known as the high-density panel) with the GGP-100K panel (Any animal that was previously tested with the 150K is still approved for AI or donor use). The GGP-100K is currently ASA’s minimum requirement for AI sire and donor dam approval – and failing to meet this requirement can be costly. Because of the high impact AI sires and donor dams have on the population (current or potential), it’s important to have as much genomic information on them as possible; and with 100,000 markers to yield a higher accuracy for GE-EPD (and a lower price point than the 150K at just $50/head), the 100K panel gives us that data.

In addition to the 100K panel, all AI sires and donors must be tested for any genetic
conditions for which they are at risk. ASA tracks for 7 of these: NH, AM, CA, PHA, DD, OS, and TH. To view an animal’s individual risk for these defects based on their pedigrees, and determine if additional testing is needed, go to the animal’s TraitTrac in Herdbook.

Foreign AI Sire and Donor Dam Requirements

SimGenetics are frequently used in crossbreeding, which can certainly lead to headaches when trying to navigate requirements across multiple breed associations. To start, different associations and different labs don’t even use the same testing terminology all the time.  For example, the American Angus Association offers an Angus GS, HD50K, and i50K test. The Angus GS and HD50K tests satisfy ASA’s AI sire/donor requirements, but the i50K test does not.  Some associations may call an HD50K their high-density panel, while other breeds refer to a 50K as low-density and not sufficient. ASA currently requires a GGP-100K panel or higher to meet AI/donor requirements. Because of this, ASA may ask for written clarification from the respective association where the original testing was run to determine if it met that association’s AI/donor requirements. Even if an animal was only run on a low-density 50K panel if the foreign breed association offers that test as meeting their requirements, ASA will honor said testing.

Despite the confusion that may surround panel requirements at other breed associations, ASA requires all AI sires and donors to be tested for any genetic conditions for which they are at risk. ASA will accept genetic condition testing from any association, but it’s possible their requirements are less stringent (e.g. Maine Anjou may only test for PHA and TH, but because the animal may have Angus or mixed-breed in their pedigree, they will be flagged as potential carriers for AM, NH, and CA and require subsequent testing at ASA).

*Most breed associations have their own AI/donor requirements, and while many overlap with ASA’s, it is always recommended to reach out to the ASA DNA team first.

Deceased Donor DNA Policy

ASA strongly encourages members to check Herdbook or call our offices to ensure all testing requirements are met before flushing a cow; however, we understand there are circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

If the cow was flushed before a sample was collected and run for the 100K, Herdbook will not allow registration of that calf. If there was DNA on the cow (i.e., there’s a sample on file for a simple trait test like coat color), it may be possible to request a sample pull at the lab to re-run the original sample for the necessary test(s). If no sample is available, please contact the ASA DNA staff to discuss options.

Genetic Condition Testing

ASA now offers an easy, straightforward way to track genetic conditions in your herd through TraitTrac! Simply search for the animal in Herdbook using their ASA registration number, then select “Genetic Detail” in the “Reports” box below the pedigree to view which conditions an animal may be at risk for based on their pedigree. ASA tracks for seven conditions by pedigree (NH, AM, CA, PHA, TH, DD, and OS), all of which have the potential to place an animal on genetic hold (GH) if they are deemed a population risk. In addition to the genetic conditions reporting, TraitTrac also reports testing and risk for the red gene, diluter, horned/polled/scurred gene, and more!

ASA requires all sires and donor dams be tested for genetic conditions. If a sire or donor dam contains one-eighth of a suspect breed population (e.g., Angus is automatically tracked for NH, AM, and CA) and is designated a population risk or carrier, that animal must be tested for all flagged conditions listed in TraitTrac. Regardless of the results of the testing, the animal’s record will be updated after testing, progeny will be eligible for registration, and certificates will be issued.

For any natural calf (not an embryo) placed on a genetic hold, the condition risk is always tracked from the sire’s side. ASA recommends genetic condition testing as far back on the sire’s pedigree as possible — this not only potentially clears the calf placed on a genetic hold, but can clear generations before it as well. For any embryo transfer (ET), both the sire and donor dam must be tested for any tracked conditions. 

Genetic Holds

When an animal is placed on a genetic hold (GH), ASA will not issue/release registration certificates, allow transfers, or update performance data. To remove the hold, members must meet one of two conditions: 

  • If the sire and/or donor dam is registered with another breed association, the member can request the test results on the parent(s) carrying the genetic condition(s) be sent to ASA. GH will be automatically removed upon completion of condition testing, or proof from another breed association of testing to clear the pedigree. Every breed association is slightly different in how they report animals that are carriers or documented free from conditions. The DNA team may need to reach out to the respective association for clarification before any updates are made.
  • If DNA is not available on the sire and/or donor dam that is tracked for the genetic conditions, each progeny must be tested before registration certificates and EPD are released. 

Results Key

All the traits and conditions tracked under ASA’s TraitTrac reporting are recessive. This simply means that an animal must inherit two copies of the mutation, one from the sire and one from the dam (i.e., in order to have a calf express the condition, both parents must be carriers). While genetic holds and condition tracking can be inconvenient and frustrating, the technology we use today helps prevent offspring with population risk conditions — or worse, lethal mutations. The testing results you may see are as follows: 

Tested Free (TF) – This animal does not carry the genetic condition and will not pass the condition on to their offspring.

Tested Carrier (TC) – Animal has one copy of the genetic mutation and one copy of the normal gene. Half of their progeny will inherit the genetic condition gene. For recessive conditions, an animal needs two copies of the gene to display the phenotype. 

Tested Homozygous Carrier (HC) – Extremely rare with genetic conditions, this result is much more common with traits like horned/polled. A homozygous carrier means the animal carries two copies of the genetic condition mutation. Homozygous carriers are possible in non-lethal conditions like Developmental Duplication (DD) or Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA); however, homozygous carriers will always pass on the mutation to their offspring. 

*If you think you have a calf that is expressing a genetic condition, please contact ASA.

My sire or donor dam just tested as a carrier for a genetic condition…now what?

This is not a dead end! It’s not uncommon for an animal to come back as a tested carrier for a condition. This simply means the pressure is off the carrier parent for testing, but all subsequent progeny will need to be tested since they now run a proven risk of being a carrier.

Outside Labs Test Reporting

DNA tests for simple traits and genetic conditions can be done outside of ASA.  In order for the results to be added on Herdbook, members can forward official results (including registration numbers) from the lab to dna@simmgene.com. Results without registration numbers will experience delays.

Email:  dna@simmgene.com   Phone: 406-587-4531 

Genetic Conditions

Arthrogyrposis Multiplex (AM) aka curly calf

Known as “Curly Calf Syndrome,” AM results in stillborn calves small in size with diminished muscling, bent limbs, and twisted spines.

Recessive, lethal, affecting Angus and Angus-influenced cattle.

A genetic mutation is a change in the genetic code from what previously existed. While some genetic mutations are advantageous (polled, for example), the majority of mutations in nature tend to hinder a population’s success via harmful or lethal means. Mutations of this nature are often referred to as genetic conditions or genetic defects.

Dominant mutations always influence an animal’s phenotype so the mutation can easily be selected for or against. Recessive mutations, however, tend to exist in a population even when harmful to the point of being lethal. This is because animals can carry the recessive gene without showing any signs of it. When carrier animals are mated to other carriers, the resulting offspring have a chance of showing symptoms. Fortunately, technology has evolved to the point at which animals that appear normal yet are carriers of recessive genetic conditions can be identified if a DNA test exists for that mutation.

A 2 x 2 Punnett Square can be used to illustrate the outcomes of various matings. In Example A below, we have mated a carrier sire to a carrier dam, while in Example B we have mated a carrier sire to a non-carrier dam.

In these examples, N is the normal gene while n is the abnormal recessive gene. The cells with single letters contain one copy of each of the sire’s (top row) and dam’s (left column) genes. Since we have used a male that carries the abnormal gene (n) in both examples each Punnett Square has an N and n on the sire side. As explained earlier, in Example A we have mated the sire to a carrier dam (Nn) while in B he is mated to a non-carrier dam (NN). Through the use of Punnett Squares, we can readily visualize what the resulting offspring will look like from our example matings. In Example A, we can see the 4 potential genotypes from the mating are NN, Nn, Nn, and nn — each with an equal probability (1/4) of occurring. Since the presence of N has complete dominance over the expression of n (i.e., N completely covers up the symptoms of n), we know that only the calf receiving nn will show the symptoms of the abnormal gene; the other 3 will appear normal. Because they received the n gene (Nn), 2 of the 3 normal calves in appearance will be carriers of the abnormal gene. In Example B, all of the resulting offspring will appear normal, while half of them (2 of 4) will be carriers. The above examples also work to illustrate other situations where a single recessive is involved, such as polled/horned or red/black.

Subscribe to our weekly eNews and Eblasts here