Cow Herd DNA Roundup Yields Powerful Results

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Cow Herd DNA Roundup Yields Powerful Results

By Dr. Rachel Endecott     |      

The first phase of the Cow Herd DNA Roundup (CHR) project yielded powerful results that improved genetic prediction for hard-to-capture traits. The ASA membership took advantage of this low-cost genotyping opportunity and invested considerable resources to participate. We’re excited to share a project update and news for future low-cost genotyping options for females in your herd.

Through early August 2019, 40,198 female genotypes have been uploaded to Herdbook from the CHR project. These samples have averaged a 5.63% parentage exclusion rate.

In addition to the female genotypes, another aim of this project was to collect mature cow phenotypes. From 2017 through early August, 45,901 mature cow weights, 34,870 body condition scores, and 17,810 hip heights have been uploaded to Herdbook. Data flow for mature cow phenotypes for the last 10 years is summarized in Table 1. Comparing mature cow phenotype data submitted in 2016 to the average number of records submitted in 2017-2018, there was a:

  • 330% increase in cow weight records
  • 442% increase in body condition score records
  • 615% increase in hip height records 

What portion of the genomic database do these 40,198 genotypes from CHR dams represent? In the August 20 genetic evaluation run, there were 107,408 female genotypes and 118,800 male genotypes in the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation. Of those, 54,148 female genotypes and 35,283 male genotypes are from the ASA database. 

After a preliminary review, this increase in female genotypes has impacted the number of progeny equivalents gained from a genomic test as well. Calving ease and docility showed the largest impact. Previously, there were inadequate female genotypes to fit marker effects for maternal calving ease. The resulting influx of genotypes from the CHR project will now allow for this, so stay tuned for both an updated progeny equivalent table and more information on maternal calving ease progeny equivalents.

What does the future look like for low-cost female genotyping at ASA? 

The ASA Board of Trustees approved Phase II of CHR at the 2019 Fall Focus meeting. The project will continue to accept new herds at $25 per sample for a low-density genomic test. Members must test 90% of their calving-age cows to qualify for the reduced price. If members submit mature cow body weights and body condition scores or hip heights from 90% of their calving-age cows, they will receive a $5 credit to their account for each cow reported. Cows must be 18 months-of age or older when mature cow measurements are taken to qualify for the $5 credit. The $5 credit will only be applied once in an animal’s life (if a member received a credit for the phenotypes in 2018 for that cow, they cannot receive another credit for the same cow with a new weight and BCS in 2019). Heifers may also be tested at the $25 price point and may receive a $5 credit if mature cow data is submitted after they reach 18 months-of-age. For members who have already participated in the CHR project, the same $25 rate is available for heifers and new purchases as long as 90% of the member’s calving-age cows have a genomic test.

We are excited to continue to explore the impact this research will have on our ability to make genetic predictions. If you would like to enroll your herd or submit additional samples, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. — we look forward to visiting with you! 


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