Today is our visit to ST Genetics at their facility on the way to Fort Worth.
We are greeted enthusiastically by Dan Carroll, our guide, who has spent 10 years with ST and is in the genetic development and selection team. We tour the ET and collection facilities, where they are currently working on a number of beef clients. The donors can be as young as 6 months, and after a series of ET flushes (both conventional and sexed), put in calf at 15 months, and then oocyte collection continues whilst the elite heifer is in calf until the technician can no longer reach the ovaries. It is fascinating to hear that through the process of amniosentisis, they can determine the genomic potential and sex of the animal at day 70 of the pregnancy and decide if they will continue the pregnancy – not without risk, but a recipient could be put back in calf to a higher genetic merit embryo faster and more economically then waiting for them to calve.
We head over to the GrowSafe trial pens, where we are presented with the information behind ST’s Ecofeed product – utilising the Growsafe trial bunkers where residual feed intake can be measured and tracked along with the animals’ weight to determine the most efficient animals within a trial group. The resulting data once adjusted for environment can then be converted into an index able to be used by the industry – in a format equivalent to the ‘Feed Saved’ value of the Australian BPI - launched early 2018 - The development of a dairy efficiency selection index - Feb 2018 World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (See Dr Jennie Pryce paper ‘The impact of genetic selection on greenhouse gas emissions in Australian dairy cattle – Animal Production Science 57(7) · March 2017 )
Once back at the main facility we are treated to some wonderful presentations by the ST team:
Greg BeVier – overview of ST – Sexing Technologies, ST Genetics and the business with in the company
Dr Joseph Deen– a great presentation on how genomics is so much more than statistics, and how best to utilise the available technologies to accelerate genetic gain
Take home message – for advancement of the breed through genetic selection you need the following 3 things:
1. Reference population
2. Phenotypes (production & class data as a minimum)
3. Genetic information on animals
Dr Mike Evans – the history of sex-sorting technology – reducing the cost, making the process more efficient and getting the technology to the point of conventional straws with the release of 4M.
We enjoy a delightful range of toppings to make our own fajitas – the Texans certainly do know how to cook their meat. From ST we are on our way to Fort Worth. We drop off our luggage into the rooms before heading to Billy Bob’s Honkytonk – the largest honkytonk around. We attempt some line dancing lessons from the seasoned professionals end enjoy a good deal of boot scooting around the dance floor before dinner.