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.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Using UCDavis-VGL Parentage Verification to Save Money on Obligate Testing

Ever since we've been members of the ADCA, genotyping bull calves has been required for registration.  At this summer's Annual General Meeting, the ADCA will be voting on a new proposal to require genotyping heifers born in 2016 and after.  Here is the proposal:

• All females, born on or after January 1, 2016, must have a genotype on file at an approved lab, prior to registration.
 • Bull calves, born on or after January 1, 2016, are required to be genotyped and sire qualified prior to registration 
• The offspring of all 2016 calves (and all offspring thereafter) must have a genotype with parentage verification on file at an approved lab (with their genotype reports residing at the same lab as the reports of both their sire and dam). 
• Steers are exempt from these genotyping requirements. 

The proposal along with questions and answers can be found on the ADCA website.

Last year I did several blog posts about parentage verification:
Parentage Verification:  Why Is It Important?
Parentage Verification Questions & Answers
Parentage Verification:  Some Interesting Statistics

One concern that has been expressed recently concerning this proposal is the "added cost" to breeders.  It is true that if the proposal passes, breeders will have to spend $25 more to register a heifer, the cost of a genotype at UCDavis Veterinary Genetics Lab (VGL), or a similar amount to have testing done at Texas A&M.  However, there are several financial advantages that this proposal would achieve for breeders.

There is the obvious, albeit unquantifiable, advantage to having fully parentage verified animals.  This means that a buyer will know for sure that the pedigree of a Dexter he is buying is exactly as that animal is registered.  Too many people have bought Dexters, only to discover in the process of trying to parentage verify them that either the sire or dam were not the ones listed on the pedigree.  In a few cases, neither the sire nor the dam were correct.  One woman bought two cows that were registered as daughters of a prestigious bull, only to discover that they were actually sired by two very different bulls--and one of them had a different dam, too.  A $25 genotype and parentage verification would have prevented those costly errors.  More and more buyers are requesting fully PVd animals and refusing to buy those that aren't.  $25 is a bargain to have that Parentage Verified guarantee behind a pedigree.

Another advantage is measurable, and that is the money saved in testing by having animals parentage verified.  Any time an animal is obligate anything, if it is parentage verified there is no need to test for that: non-chondro, PHA negative, black, red, A2 or polled.

Here's the process I recently followed to register and parentage verify our newest Dexter calf:

The blank "Order Tests" page on My VGL account.

I entered Seb's registered name, ZH Royal Celebration, and filled out his information.  Then I selected the tests I wanted done:  DNA (genotype), polled and red.  Note that I did not have to select A2, Dexter Bulldog Dwarfism (Chondrodysplasia), or Dexter PHA--because he is obligate A2 and negative for both Chondro and PHA.

Also note under the "Selected Tests," there is a box next to "Parent Verification (to confirm Dam/Sire)."

When I checked that box, a new window opened up, "Sire Parent Verification Info."  Note the buttons: "Search My Account," "Enter Name + VGL Case #," and "New Sire."  Since the sire of ZH Royal Celebration is Mrald Crown Royal, our bull, the sire is in my account.

When I clicked on "Search My Account," the two bulls in my account appeared in the purple lines.  Wellie, the second one, is now a steer.  So I clicked on Mrald Crown Royal.

Next it was time for "Dam Parent Verification Info" underneath the sire.

When I clicked on "Search My Account," all of the females I have tested at VGL popped up in the purple lines, and I selected the correct dam, New Hope Ebony Belle.

The bottom section "Parent Information" did not need to be filled in.  That is only to be used when parentage verification is not selected.

Once I clicked "Save Test," a "Confirmation" page appeared for me to verify the information.  I clicked "Proceed to Checkout."

Here is the "Payment Basket" for my tests.  Remember, to comply with the ADCA requirements I did not have to order anything except the $25 genotype with parentage verification.  I know Seb is black and horned, because we disbudded him, but I chose to do the tests anyway, as well as testing to see if he carries red and what kind.

Parentage verification is the only way to guarantee obligate status, and in this case it saved me $40 in testing because Seb could not carry chondro or PHA, and he must be homozygous A2.  The $25 genotype has already paid itself back and more.  Had I not done these tests, I could have spent $25 and still had Seb's obligate status confirmed for non-chondro, PHA negative and homozygous A2.

Note this screen, which appears after payment has been made.  Using the browser's "Back" button would cancel the test.

Here's the automatic email I received with the attached "testform.pdf" to print out.  SinceVGL's online forms have changed slightly since I previously did a how-to post on ordering tests through VGL, this post updates the paperwork part of the process.  The process for attaching the tail hairs and sending off the sample is still the same and can be found HERE.  Scroll down to the photo with the scotch tape dispenser sitting on the paperwork and read from there.

Meanwhile, as you read the information in this post and consider the female genotyping proposal, I hope you will be convinced of the advantages of this proposal for our Dexter breed and plan to vote Yes either in person or by proxy at the AGM this June.

NOTE:  After hearing some feedback on this post, I need to specify that the point is to show how having our animals parentage verified can help save us money on testing when obligate status is involved.  The cost of the genotype can possibly be more than recuperated in money saved on testing. This is in no way, shape or form meant to endorse breeding for an all-obligate herd in order to save money on testing.  There is a long list of desirable qualities to keep as goals in breeding our Dexters; cheap testing fees does not make the list!

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