Genex Launches PregCheck™ Fertility Ranking
Brad Johnson, Director of Beef Genetics, Genex
Beef sire fertility data has always been high on the wish list of Genex members, customers and sales representatives, yet has proven highly elusive. That is, until now. Genex is pleased to launch PregCheck, the first sire fertility evaluation in the beef industry.
The historical method to evaluate semen fertility was for a trained veterinarian or lab technician to check semen with a microscope for percent live sperm cells, motility and morphology. In fact, every collection of semen produced by Genex is evaluated multiple times in the lab before it's approved for use in the marketplace. Lab analysis is very effective in ensuring semen has been properly processed, frozen and handled. However, lab analysis of bull semen only tells part of the story. The semen of two different bulls may look very similar under the microscope, yet perform very differently when used in cows. A far better method is to let the cows tell us which bull's semen is most fertile, and that's what PregCheck does.
The dairy industry has had sire conception rate evaluations for decades. Routine pregnancy checks, standard farm management software, high artificial insemination (A.I.) use and lack of natural service sires allows modern dairies to capture large amounts of highly accurate breeding data that's difficult to obtain from beef ranchers. Recently Genex has worked with several large dairies to generate PregCheck rankings for beef sires. Beef semen is used on the dairy, a veterinarian pregnancy tests cows at 30 to 40 days post-breeding and reconfirms at 60 to 80 days. Pregnancy results are entered in the farm's computer software and ultimately this data becomes part of the Genex fertility evaluation run approximately every 90 days.
The evaluation model is the same model used for so many years for dairy sires, except set to a beef base, meaning beef sires are compared against other beef sires. Many variables are statistically accounted for in the model, these include: technician, herd effect, age of cow, milk production levels, number of previous breedings and many others. This highly sophisticated genetic evaluation model, along with accurate on-farm data, results in PregCheck data this is extremely sound and reliable. It should be noted that PregCheck is not an EPD, but can be read and utilized similarly to an EPD or a performance ratio.
In some herds, focusing heavily on maximizing the number of early born, A.I. sired calves is imperative. Using high ranking PregCheck sires from Genex will help do so, versus using unproven young sires or unknown sires from other sources. Using proven, high ranking PregCheck sires from Genex is a great way to stack the deck in your favor!
For most situations, PregCheck will become a part of the A.I. sire selection criteria, but should not be the only criteria. using PregCheck proven sires will allow the ranch to achieve more pregnancies to A.I., thus reducing labor at calving by tightening the calving window, weaning older heavier calves and making genetic progress at a more rapid rate. Like A.I. sires with proven EPDs for calving ease or growth traits, a sire with a PregCheck ranking will help reduce risk versus the unknown.
PregCheck is an evaluation of the bull's frozen semen conception rates, not natural service capabilities of his sons or fertility level of his daughters.
While one goal is certainly to find the extremely high fertility bulls, PregCheck arguably offers greater value as a culling tool. Genex has already removed bulls from the lineup due to poor PregCheck evaluations and will continue to do so as data is available on more bulls. While this decision has sent some genetically solid bulls back to the breeding pasture, rest assured that Genex is committed to providing the most fertile semen in the industry. This dedication to high fertility allows Genex members, customers and sales representatives to use Genex beef sires with a greater confidence, knowing these bulls have not only met the traditional laboratory evaluation but also passed the test on the farm/ranch.
How to Use PregCheck:
PregCheck is set to a 100 base system, meaning a value of 100 is average. Every one point difference is then equivalent to a one percent difference in conception rate. For example, if Sire A has a PregCheck of 102 and Sire B has a PregCheck of 100, Sire A is predicted to be two percent higher in conception rate than Sire B.
Click here for the most recent PregCheck evaluations.