Update on Sire Verification, Myostatin Testing and Zootechnical regulations

There have been a number of points raised by members recently about DNA sampling and sire verification plus myostatin testing. Hopefully this update will give some answers and also correct some points that have been made.

  1. The sire verification of bull calves is being done by SNP profiling rather than the old microsatellite test, as this is more accurate and gives opportunity for further information in the future. This does mean that stock sires who have had microsatellite profiles will need to be re-profiled and, in many cases, insufficient original DNA is available.

  2. Many of the past and present samples that have been sent in to the Society have been of plucked hair and there is a high failure rate with this type of sample. Switch hair samples should be sent.

  3. Although Weatherby’s did try and facilitate the use of used AI straws for testing again the failure rate was too high.

  4. The full cost of profiling stock sires is met by the Society and always has been. If samples submitted through the Society for sires or bull calves fail testing, the Society meets the cost of that testing. Members are not charged twice.

  5. If it is impossible to get a DNA sample from a stock sire that has died and there are no semen straws available for sire verification, the resulting progeny will be listed for Board approval for a Pedigree Certificate to be issued and the situation will be monitored and an amnesty put in place. The Society will reserve the right to carry out sibling testing if it deems fit.

  6. Following comments made by members at the AGM in February, the Board revisited the question of the exclusion of any bull calf carrying a double deletion of any myostatin variant or two single deletions of distinct variants. The Board was again unanimous in its view that these animals are undesirable in the Herd Book. However, the Board extended the date to January 2021 for this regulation to come in to effect to take into consideration members’ breeding strategies and the back log in sampling results.

  7. The above regulation is fully compliant with the Zootech Regulations and has been verified by DEFRA.

  8. There is an article regarding Myostatin and the effect in Beef Shorthorn in the 2019 Journal.

  9. At this point 1079 animals have been tested for myostatin variants and only 11 have a double deletion or two single deletions.

  10. Myostatin testing of bull calves and stock sires is done at the Society’s expense.

  11. The Society recognises the benefit of myostatin testing females but, until sire verification of all bull calves has been completed, the Society does not have the capacity to offer female testing. The office is happy to provide details of laboratories where private testing can be carried out. In any private testing failed samples will have to be paid for by the customer.

  12. The Board is made up of Directors elected by you the members. At meetings the views expressed by members to Directors are regularly fully discussed. The Board has a duty to protect the integrity of the Herd Book and the fitness for purpose of the breed, and its decisions are made with this in mind. It is also mindful of the impact of its decisions on members.

If a member has a query, they should contact the office and speak to Jo on 07399 452015 or Ellie on 07487 514389.