ABSTRACT: The feasibility and economic value of DNA paternity identification were investigated and illustrated using Nevada beef cattle operations. A panel of 15 microsatellites was genotyped in 2,196 animals from 8 ranches with a total of 31,571 genotypes. Probabilities of exclusion for each marker within ranch and across ranches were computed. Joint probabilities of exclusion for the 15 microsatellites were also determined, resulting in values over 0.99 for any individual ranch and across ranches. Dropping 1 or 2 microsatellites with the lowest probabilities of exclusion resulted in joint probabilities greater than 0.99 and with marginal reduction compared with the probabilities with 15 microsatellites. Formulas for benefit-cost analysis for a DNA paternity identification program in beef cattle were derived. Genotyping 15 microsatellites with 20 calves per sire resulted in benefits of $1.71 and $2.44 per dollar invested at bull culling rates of 0.20 and 0.30, respectively. The breakpoints for the program to be profitable occurred when the ratio of the price of 1 kg of calf liveweight over the cost of genotyping 1 microsatellite was greater than 1.1 for a bull culling rate of 0.30. Benefit-cost analysis was also derived under incomplete DNA paternity identification using a lower number of DNA markers than necessary to achieve joint probabilities of exclusion of 0.99. Approximately a 20% increase in the benefit-cost ratio was achieved using 10 vs. 12 microsatellites with incomplete paternity identification. The greater the number of bulls in the operation, the lower the benefit-cost ratio of the paternity testing program. Low probabilities of exclusion and a high number of bulls in the beef operation reduced the benefit-cost ratio dramatically. The DNA paternity identification programs are feasible and may be profitable for free-range beef cattle operations.
Journal of Animal Science 02/2008; 86(1):17-24. · 2.10 Impact Factor