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Genomically enhanced EPDs incorporated into Midland Bull Test results for increased accuracy

Columbus, Mont. – Midland Bull Test relies heavily on the EPDs (expected progeny differences) of bulls on test, and this year, they have incorporated the Zoetis HD 50K to provide more accurate EPDs for buyers.

“The Zoetis HD 50K DNA test analyzes over 50,000 different markers spread across the entire bovine genome for the most comprehensive analysis and highest accuracy in the industry,” says Midland Bull Test. “Service is synonymous with Midland, and we have invested heavily in Zoetis HD 50K DNA technology to bring you the most predictable and profitable bulls you can buy.”

MBT clarifies that the additional information comes at no additional cost for producers. 

What is the HD 50K test?

Zoetis, formerly Pfizer, offers the HD 50K test to increase the accuracy of EPDs by up to six-fold. The test also increases the predictability of data over the pedigree predictability.

The test looks at more than 54,000 DNA markers, including markers for 18 economically important traits, according to Zoetis and Angus Genetics, Inc. Those traits represent production, maternal and carcass traits.

In gathering the genetic information used in the test, DNA is screened for a series of SNPs, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The SNPs represent specific traits in the DNA of an animal.

“Each SNP alone doesn’t tell you much, but a panel of critically selected SNPs for multiple traits provides molecular breeding values that can be used in the calculation of EPDs,” explains Sally Northcutt of the American Angus Association. “The genomic value becomes and additional piece of information.”

The resulting data allows enhanced selection, mating and marketing decisions that accelerate genetic progress, says Zoetic and Angus Genetics, Inc.

The results of the test, which are reported as percentile ranks associated with molecular breeding values, are benchmarked against more than 5,000 tested Black Angus cattle. Results are reported to the nearest one percent.

To obtain the data, producers simply send in a sample on a blood card to Angus Genetics, Inc., who forwards the sample to Zoetis. The sample is genotyped, meaning the DNA is analyzed. Results are returned to Angus Genetics, Inc., where they are compiled and reported in the organization’s weekly reports.

Tests cost $75 per head, but Cattle Genetics Specialist Larry Gran emphasizes that the data translate to more information for producers and those buying bulls.

Benefits of testing

Of reasons to purchase a 50K DNA test, Gran says, “It brings more accuracy to the EPDs of an animal at a very young age.”

“Instead of waiting four years to find out if an animal is proven,” he continues, “we can give you a first year’s results of what that animal is capable of doing.”

The biggest benefit of using the 50K DNA test to enhance EPDs is that the purchaser of the animal gets more information on the EPDs at an earlier age. 

For those selling cattle, Gran adds that it provides an additional service for customers, so they are more aware of what the animal is capable of.

“It gives the customer more confidence when they buy a bull, heifer or cow that the calf will go in the direction they want it to go in,” explains Gran.

Gran notes that Zoetis’ HD 50K test can be performed for Black and Red Angus.

According to Zoetis and Angus Genetics, Inc., “HD 50K information, when combined with Angus EPDs, provides the most accurate and complete picture of the animal’s genetic potential.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..