Application of Parentage Testing by DNA on Western Ranges with Large Beef Herds

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $23,013.50
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Federal Funds: $12,000.00
Region: Western
State: Nevada
Principal Investigator:
Ben Bruce
Department of Animal Biotechnology


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: general animal production
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: holistic management


    Extensive ranching operations in the West are unable to identify the sires and the dams of calves, precluding selection or culling of animals based on performance or undesirable traits. DNA technology for parent testing in cattle is viable, but has not been applied to large herds. This research developed satisfactory field sampling techniques for DNA testing in large herds. Time problems emerged with lab procedures in processing large sample numbers, taking too long for the information to be used in culling animals effectively. The techniques show promise, but more rapid methods for large sample number need to be developed.

    Project objectives:

    Develop sampling techniques, data storage, and data application techniques for determining the parentage of calves, particularly in large herds.
    Develop methods for selection on the basis of parentage and performance parameters within the cow herd.
    Develop curricular materials for producers such that these techniques may be successfully applied.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.