DNA-based Paternity Analysis in Multi-bull Breeding Programs on Beef Cattle Operations in Western Canada

  •  Stacey Jo Domolewski    
  •  Crystal Ketel    
  •  Kathy Larson    
  •  Leigh Marquess    
  •  Daalkhaijav Damiran    
  •  Mika Asai-Coakwell    
  •  Herbert Lardner    


A 3-yr study was conducted to evaluate deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-based paternity analysis on commercial beef ranches managing multi-bull breeding systems. Five commercial ranches in central Saskatchewan Canada participated in the study with a total of 22 breeding groups. All bulls (n = 75) and calves (n = 2243) were sampled to determine parentage. Number of calves sired per bull ranged from 1 to 87 (23 ± 15.9). The value of a calculated index of bull prolificacy (BPI) ranged from 0.05 to 3.83. Older bulls had a BPI averaging 1.10, 2-yr old bulls 1.00, and yearling bulls 0.76 (p > 0.05). Strong positive (r = 0.93, n = 74, p = 0.01) correlation was observed between total calves born per bull and calves born in the first 21 days BPI, between total calves born per bull and calves born in week-3 BPI (r = 0.69, n = 74, p = 0.01). Bull age was shown to play a significant role when determining prolificacy, with older bulls siring more calves than younger bulls. Bull number per breeding group influenced the number of calves sired. As number of bulls per breeding group increased so did the variation in the number of calves sired by each bull. Conducting DNA parentage testing only on calves born in the first 21 d or in week 3 of the calving season may provide an opportunity to decrease costs and turn-around time for laboratory results and decisions made, prior to the next breeding season.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.