Genomic Testing. The future of EPDs and performance indicators?
When you stop to try to wrap your head around genetics and genomics, it can be very confusing, so don’t feel bad if it is to you. DNA is the complete hereditary information for an individual and is contained within every cell of the body. Different cells use different portions of the DNA sequence as their “Instruction Manual” to manufacture and produce what they are supposed to. Those individual cells work together in a whole body unit and you have the cow. The cow’s genetic potential is what her particular set of DNA allows her to be.
It is much more complicated than this, but genomic testing is looking at the DNA. There are markers (sequences of DNA) that the breed has identified that correlate to higher productivity in an area, such as milk, protein, fat, etc. When you send in a sample (usually hair or blood) those sequences are being identified to give you an idea of how your animal can perform in those certain areas.
One big thing to remember with genomic testing is that it gives you an idea of how the animal CAN perform, not necessarily how the animal WILL perform. Environment, disease, equipment, etc. etc, can all affect the potential of that individual. It should give you a pretty good idea of how that individual will compare to its contemporaries that are in a similar environment and state, though.
It is being used heavily in new sires so EPDs have more accuracy earlier younger sires.