ABBA DNA FAQs

November 22nd, 2022 
by ABBA Communications Committee

With the newly approved DNA changes, we understand that members have questions. We have developed this FAQ list to help our members learn more about the recently approved DNA 5-year-plan. If you have any questions, please contact abba@brahman.org.


1.What is the difference between STR and SNP, and why do we need to use SNPs now?

a. STR (Short Tandem Repeat) analysis is the older type of marker analysis that has previously been used before the industry transitioned to the new SNP analysis around 2012. When a sample is tested with STR analysis, there are roughly 11-14 NUMBER markers that the labs look at to compare with another animal’s markers to determine parent verification. The labs have moved to SNP analysis, meaning STR analysis is no longer used except on the rare case-by-case basis.

b. SNP (Single-nucleotide Polymorphism) is often referred to as “snip.” This newer and more modern type of marker analysis is currently used in today’s industry and genetic market. Every sample submitted to either Zoetis or NEOGEN for a genotype panel or parentage analysis is run on SNPs. When a sample is tested with SNPs, there are roughly 80-110 LETTER markers that the lab views to compare with another animal’s markers to determine parent verification.

c. Again, STR analysis is no longer being used by the labs, except for a rare case-by-case basis. The change to SNP analysis was necessary in order perform any DNA testing in the future.

d. SNP is the much more comprehensive technology that provides more accurate information.


2.If my sire/dam was already DNA typed with STR, do I still need to upgrade to SNP?

a. Currently, when a sample is submitted for genotyping or parent verification, it is run on a SNP analysis. If the sire or dam was DNA typed with a STR profile, then they cannot be compared to an animal with a SNP profile, as these are two different types of markers (explained above). If you are needing parentage on an animal, it would be in your best interest to upgrade parent animals to a SNP profile, if you have not done so already.

b. In the year of 2023, ABBA is offering a discounted rate of $10 for upgrades from STR to SNP profiles, and $30 for genotypes.


3.Will I need to submit a new sample to upgrade from STR to SNP?

a. Possibly. If you have already submitted a sample to a lab, it is likely that the sample can be upgraded from STR to SNP.

b. If for some reason a sample cannot be upgraded from STR to SNP, a new sample would need to be sent to Zoetis or NEOGEN.

c. It is possible for samples to degenerate over time. If it has been a substantial amount of time since you sent in a sample on an animal, it is possible that the sample has deteriorated and a new sample would be required. The labs will send a notification of this if it does become the case.


4.Will there be a new technology after SNP that I will need to make another upgrade to?

a.     In short, we don’t know. Nobody does at this point. Currently, SNP analysis is the most up to date and modern technology available. Is there the possibility that there could be a newer, more advanced, even more accurate technology arise in the future? Yes. But as it currently stands, SNP analysis is the modern technology that is being used, and it appears to stay that way for the foreseeable future.


5.What if I need to upgrade a deceased animal to SNP, but there is no available genetic material?

a. As of January 1, 2023, all deceased animals without available genetic material will be grandfathered when determining parent verification. Zoetis/Neogen will need to provide proof to the ABBA office that the current DNA profile was unable to be upgraded from STR to SNP.


6.What is a genotype (HD50K, GGP100K, etc.)?

a. A “genotype” is a panel of 50,000-150,000 SNP markers. When your animal is run on a genotype, it will genomic-enhanced EPDs (GE-EPDs) and parent verification if the parents have DNA on file (you may need to request parentage in certain instances, so make sure to check that your paperwork is properly filled out and complete). There is no additional charge for parent verification when it accompanies a genotype.

b. By the end of 2025, all A.I. Sires, Walking Sires and Donor Dams that produce a calf will be required to have a genotype on file.


7.What are genomic-enhanced EPDs?

a. GE-EPDs use results from a genomic test (genotype) in addition to pedigree, performance and progeny data that is already used, to increase the accuracy and reliability of an animal’s EPDs. While there is slight variability from breed to breed and trait to trait, a GE-EPD on an unproven bull has roughly the same level of accuracy as if that bull has already sired his first calf crop.

b. ONLY animals that have been genotyped will receive GE-EPDs.


8.What information do I get back when my animal is genotyped?

a. Unlike a parentage report, there is no official report that you will receive when an animal is genotyped. You will see the results of this when GE-EPDs on that animal become available. ABBA/labs will send you a confirmation report stating that your animals have been successfully genotyped.


9.I’m an F-1 breeder, how does the DNA plan affect me?

a. The DNA plan applies only to registered Brahman cattle.

b. While you are more than welcome to get DNA on any animal in an F-1 breeding program, it is not required.


10. What is Whole Herd Enrollment (WHE)?

a. Whole Herd Enrollment is an optional program where a producer can enroll their entire herd and in return for keeping DNA, performance data, and calving records, they would receive discounts on DNA, registration and transfer costs.

b. This optional program will begin in 2028. More information will be released in the coming years as we get closer to the implementation of WHE.


11. Is it mandatory that I DNA all of my animals?

a. Absolutely not. While there are eventually requirements for A.I. Sires, Walking Sires, Donor Dams, and A.I./E.T. calves over the next 5 years, there is absolutely no mandate that you must DNA all of your animals.


12. Why was the DNA plan developed?

a. The end goal is to begin transitioning to SNP parent verification on all A.I. and E.T. calves by 2028. The reasoning for this is that STR is no longer a current and viable technology (see above) and will not be used by labs going forward.

b. This transition also gives us the opportunity to begin using genotyping technology to build and improve GE-EPDs. This will provide more accuracy and reliability in our EPD figures.

c. This plan was also developed in an effort to adopt modern DNA/genetic tools used throughout the beef cattle industry. The goal is to constantly improve Brahman’s place in the beef cattle industry and be able to provide more comprehensive and accurate information to our customers that allow them to be more confident in purchasing decisions.

Our goal is to serve all our ABBA members and Brahman breeders. We welcome any questions so that we can help advise you on the best plan for your operation. For more information contact abba@brahman.org.