Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Parentage Verification: Our Whole Herd is Sire & Dam Qualified!

The subject of Parent Verification ("PV" for short) is extremely important for registered cattle.  I've waited to write about it until I could announce our great news:  Our entire herd is now fully Parent Verified or "Sire and Dam Qualified!"  

The last and most important member of our herd to be done was our herd sire, Mrald Crown Royal, shown here being affectionate with Siobhan.

Here is what Royal's pedigree page looks like now on the ADCA website.  The important line is the one that says "Parentage DNA:  Sire and Dam Qualify."  (Personal information has been removed for privacy.)

I don't have Royal's updated registration certificate yet, but here is Ebony's, which is the same except for name, sex and pedigree.  Note the line "Parentage DNA:  G5."  If you can read the tiny print underneath, you'll see that this is ADCA shorthand to say that Ebony is "Sire and Dam Qualified."  Here's the key to the system:
  1. G1 - No genotype on file.  (It either was not done, or was done but not communicated to the ADCA.) 
  2. G2 - Genotype on file.  (Bulls must have a genotype on file to be registered.  Maybe one day soon we'll get to the same point for cows.)
  3. G3 - Sire qualifies.  (This means that a lab--either Texas A&M or UCDavis VGL--has compared the calf's genotype to his sire's genotype, and the "sire qualifies" to be the sire of that calf.  The comparison of the two genotypes cannot conclusively prove this is the sire, although the comparison could conclusively exclude the sire.)
  4. G4 - Dam qualifies.  (The dam qualifies as the calf's dam in the same way as the sire.)
  5. G5 - Sire and dam qualify.  (This means that all three animals--sire, dam and calf--have had their genotypes compared at the same lab at the same time.  This comparison is the most fool-proof method of determining whether the sire and dam recorded on the calf's pedigree are indeed its sire and dam.  This is the Cadillac of PV!)
You may be scratching your head, wondering what in the heck this means, and why it's important.  Let's take a closer look . . .

First, let's look at genotypes. A genotype is like a genetic fingerprint, unique to each individual.

This is a genotype report from Texas A&M (TAMU).  (All identifying information has been removed.)  TAMU identifies 13 genetic markers (highlighted in yellow) in a genotype.   The various markers, such as ETH10, don't mean anything to us laypeople.  The lab uses the same ones for every animal to identify each animal's genetic "fingerprint."

Note that most of the markers are followed by two numbers.  For example, ETH10 is followed by 217/221.  You'll remember that an individual (in this case, a cow) gets half of its genetic material from each parent, so this animal got the 217 from one parent and the 221 from the other.  Hold that thought; it's going to be important.


This is a genotype report from UCD's Veterinary Genetics Lab (VGL).  VGL identifies 16 genetic markers in their genotypes.  The markers are in the Locus column with the animal's individual results highlighted in pink.  Note that the third marker down in the left-hand column is, once again, ETH10.  (TAMU and VGL use some of the same markers as well as some different ones.)  Of course this marker is still 217/221 because it's the same animal tested at a different lab.

Now we can finally get down to Parent Verification or PV . . .

Here is the genotype we had done on Siobhan at TAMU.  Her AI sire, Hillview Red Wing, was on file at TAMU, and we had sent her dam Sara's tail hairs there to be genotyped.  When I filled out the paprerwork for the test, TAMU automatically compared Siobhan's genotype to those of her parents.  Note the Comment:  Sire Qualified, Dam Qualified.  That meant that TAMU had compared all 13 markers of Red Wing and Sara and Siobhan and found no inconsistencies, so she was now "Sire Qualified, Dam Qualified."  In ADCA lingo, she had achieved "G5" status.

However, things had been evolving in the ADCA world, and on July 1, 2013 VGL was approved by the ADCA for genotyping Dexters.  For various reasons, including the fact that VGL lets me create an account and manage my own tests online, I decided to transfer our animals to VGL.  Having so few animals, I chose to re-submit tail hairs to VGL for genotyping.

After Siobhan's calf Wellie was born in May 2014, I wanted to genotype and PV him at VGL.  I signed in to my online VGL account and pulled up this form that VGL uses.  Look in the third section down, where there is a box next to  the words"Parent Verification."  

When you click the "Parent Verification" box, this opens up a new section.  You will see a place to enter the sire's and dam's information.  If they belong to you and you have their genotypes on file, all you have to do is click the "Search My Account" button.  That's what I did for Siobhan, but for Wellie's sire, I needed the "Enter Name + VGL Case #" button.  So I emailed Cash's owner to ask for his Case Number, a common courtesy readily granted by breeders when you own their animal's offspring.

Once I ordered the test, VGL went to work.  A lab tech compared all three genotypes--Cash the sire, Siobhan the dam, and Wellie the calf.  The result of that comparison is the "Parentage Analysis"  which states:  "ZH Duke of Wellington qualifies as an offspring of ZH Zephyrhill Siobhan and FF Lil' Christmas Cash."  (Case numbers removed.)

The lab personnel at VGL refer to this as "Sire and Dam Qualified."
The ADCA online pedigree says "Sire and Dam Qualify."
The ADCA registration certificate says "G5."
TAMU calls it "Sire Qualified, Dam Qualified."

Whatever you call it, it is full Parent Verification--and we are thrilled that our herd has got it!

Stay tuned for more information on Parentage Verification.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me using the "Contact Susan" form under the ADCA logo on the right hand side of the blog.

Update on Sept. 8, 2016 in answer to a question in the comments.  The question is: "Based on the latest requirements from ADCA, "ALL ANIMALS BORN AFTER 2009 MUST HAVE THEIR SIRE’S GENOTYPE ON FILE WITH THE ADCA. To check if the ADCA has it on file, go to the Online Pedigree and look up the sire. If the genotype field on the bull’s pedigree page is blank, then you will need to obtain his geno in order to register your animal." What is the "genotype field"?"

Answer: Cathy, here's a screen shot of the relevant part of our bull's online pedigree.  The "genotype field" is the line that says "Parentage DNA."  I marked it "HERE" to make it easier to find.  If it says "Sire and Dam Qualify" or "Sire Qualifies" next to "Parentage DNA" that means the ADCA has the genotype on file.  If it's blank or only says "Dam Qualifies," they don't have it. It might have been better if the explanation on the website you're referring to used the same terminology as the online pedigrees, but basically "DNA" and "genotype" are interchangeable. 

You also asked, "I don't know what Select Profile options are." You actually do have that option. At the bottom of the online pedigree you'll see several options: "Start New Search, Hypothetical Mating and Frequently Asked Questions." When you click on FAQs, you find this explanation about halfway down:

Can I sort the search results by something other than the animal name?
Yes. Each column heading in the search result is actually a link. If you click on a column heading, the search results will be redisplayed, sorted by that column.

This is to use in cases where your search brings up a whole list of animals. So you can click on the "Sire" column to sort the results and display all the same sire together. You don't really need to go to that trouble, though, when checking on your own animals. Just go to your animal's pedigree and look at Parentage DNA. I hope this helps clear things up for others who have your same question!


  1. Thank you so much, Susan, for this explanation! I have a question for you. Based on the latest requirements from ADCA, "ALL ANIMALS BORN AFTER 2009 MUST HAVE THEIR SIRE’S GENOTYPE ON FILE WITH THE ADCA. To check if the ADCA has it on file, go to the Online Pedigree and look up the sire. If the genotype field on the bull’s pedigree page is blank, then you will need to obtain his geno in order to register your animal." What is the "genotype field"? I don't see a "genotype field" on any pedigree page that I've looked at. What info different from the Gender, polled, PHA, and Chondro fields would go in the genotype field? Sorry to be so uninformed! We've been doing this or 4 years and we still have lots to learn. Thanks again! Cathy (I don't know what Select Profile options are--guess I don't have them. Sorry to be Anonymous.

    1. No problem on the Anonymous, Cathy, I know who you are! :) They do make it hard if you don't have a Blogger or Google account. I updated this post with an answer to your question because I couldn't post a photo in this reply. Hope it helps!


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