Meat & Livestock News

Genetics and Vaccination: The Future of Quality Beef Production

MANSFIELD — On a recent Wednesday at the Mansfield Football Club rooms, the future of beef production took center stage. Over 80 local Angus beef producers attended an in-depth workshop led by veterinarian Dr. Anna Manning, where the primary focus lay on leveraging genetics and maintaining robust vaccination protocols to optimize beef cattle herds.

Close up of unrecognizable veterinarian holding big syringe witjh medicine while vaccinating cows and livestock at farm, copy space

Spearheaded by Mansfield veterinarian Dr. Anna Manning, the “Building Blocks of Beef” workshop also featured insights from Jake Bourne, the southern representative for Zoetis, and first-hand accounts from Dane Skinner, an Angus producer from Big Springs.

The workshop aimed to introduce attendees to the burgeoning world of genetics in cattle breeding and the imperative of a comprehensive vaccination program.

This gathering took place on Wednesday, August 23.

As demand for high-quality beef surges, there’s an increasing emphasis on understanding the role of genetics and the benefits of vaccination in cattle breeding.

How: Dr. Manning emphasized the importance of DNA testing, which allows beef producers to select animals with superior genetic merit.

Using genomics, she explained, breeders can interpret an animal’s DNA to make informed decisions. To underscore her point, Dr. Manning shared some jarring cases she’s encountered, like a calf born with six legs and another with an oversized skull.

Jake Bourne presented the Angus “HeiferSELECT”, a cutting-edge genomic tool developed in collaboration between Angus Australia and Zoetis. This tool, alongside others, including the HD 50K tests for Angus and Wagyu, helps in making informed breeding, culling, and marketing decisions.

Bourne highlighted the dramatic growth in the market for stud Angus cattle and emphasized the need for breeders to utilize data to achieve their breeding objectives, which can lead to improved traits, such as meat marbling and carcass weight.

Dane Skinner shared his experience with the HeiferSELECT testing. He detailed the simplicity of obtaining a sample during ear tagging, which is then sent for testing, and results are usually available within a month. Skinner noted the transformative effect on his selection program, saying, “With the data, I already know which animals will suit our program.”

The workshop wasn’t solely on genetics. Post-lunch, Dr. Manning shifted the conversation to the critical topic of vaccination. She introduced the attendees to the ‘Immune Ready’ initiative, a three-step process endorsed by prominent industry bodies, such as MLA and ACV, aimed at preventing cattle diseases and ensuring herd health.

As Dr. Tracey Sullivan, President of ACV, put it: when coupled with the National Cattle Health Declaration, “Immune Ready” emerges as a formidable tool to counter preventable cattle diseases across the entire supply chain.

For those seeking more insights on the “Immune Ready” initiative, a comprehensive overview is available at