Are all DNA Tests valid and accurate?

Are all DNA Tests valid and accurate? Is science there yet or do gaps still exist in DNA verification?

A costly experience for Lone Station Simmentals

In approximately 2018 Lone Station Simmentals bought a bull (complete outcross) to animals within the herd to:
a) Provide a different line of genetics from existing sires; and
b) Breed an outcross bull from high performing females within the herd for use internally.

The bull purchased was red in colour (the Lone Station herd at that time was blonde) and had different characteristics to the core Lone Station herd and sires in use/ used previously at that time. The bull was put in a paddock with a number of females as part of a controlled joining (including Lucrana- Lacey). Approximately 9-10 months later calves were born. Eighteen months later the bull in question (Lone Station Patton) looked pretty much a dead ringer to what was believed to be his father- Finallee Mojo (Mother Lacey).

Simmental Studs in the United States saw the direct resemblance to Zimbo- (Sire of Mojo and Grandsire of Patton) which had been used globally and had posted images of bulls sired by Zimbo on social media and commented on their resemblance to Patton.

Enter DNA verification

A key principle of Lone Station Simmentals is that if buyers use a pedigree to assist them in deciding on a purchasing decision then our obligation is to make sure that pedigree is correct. On that basis all Lone Station Bulls are DNA verified and when performing this activity Pattons results did not come back verified to sire which came as a complete surprise. After examining all DNA records within the herd it was identified that the sire was in-fact a blonde bull with different characteristics and looked completely different.

Ultimately this meant that Patton cannot be used extensively within the herd and another bull was sold to make way for this bull when infact he should have been kept. The other bulls sired by Mojo are too closely related to the rest of the herd to make their use viable. (Lone Station Simmentals considers a 12% inbreeding co-efficient the maximum to maintain genetic diversity).

In talking to colleagues within the Droughtmaster and Brahman breeds some have also questioned the validity of DNA results on occasion. Like any operation it would be safe to assume that at genetics laboratories mistakes are made from time to time (it happens in life and indeed every business).

Lone Station Simmentals would welcome any knowledge/ experiences from colleagues in the cattle industry (please get in touch) who may have genuinely experienced the same issue or know more about the regulatory framework in which these enterprises operate.

In our sector we acknowledge the importance of technology and embrace it to better inform decision making but in situations like this do we have to ask- “is the technology quite their yet? or have we made a mistake at our end?”.

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