Top Tips for Easy, Efficient DNA Testing

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Down to the Genes Series

Everything the AJSA Needs to Know About DNA Testing

With the upcoming AJSA Regional and National Classics, and summer show season, it is very important…

Top Tips for Easy, Efficient DNA Testing

As we head into fall, weaning, and long days working cattle, ASA’s DNA department wants to share some of our top tips for easy, efficient DNA testing. Preparation is key, and we want our membership to have the tools to successfully test animals and take advantage of DNA technology.

➔ The most straightforward, error-free way to order DNA testing is to go to, click on DNA Testing, Order a DNA Test, choose instructions for if you have kits on hand or need to order kits, and follow the prompts to the form download. If you have kits on hand, you will return this form to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and wait for a reply with instructions and paperwork that must accompany the samples to the lab. If you are ordering kits, they will be sent with labels for each animal on the front, and an addressed envelope to the lab.

◆ DO NOT send kits to the lab without paperwork. You MUST either have ASA paperwork or kits with stickers: no exceptions. Neogen® is processing thousands of samples at the same time and does not accept our printed order form, handwritten notes, etc. Contacting ASA to create an official order after samples have already been sent to the lab requires a lot of time and work and always results in delays. 

➔ Send your samples to the lab in a tracked package. ASA is not responsible for any lost packages, but it is especially difficult to do anything when an untracked USPS package is lost.

➔ Order kits ahead of time. If you have a large number of animals to test, ASA strongly recommends using Tissue Sampling Units (TSU), but blood cards and hair cards can be sent in advance as well. If you don’t use a kit that was already billed, charges can always be reversed. You will save money by not requiring overnight shipping and be under less stress.

➔ There is no option to expedite testing once samples reach the lab. The turnaround is 3-4 weeks with no exceptions.

➔ Spend some time making sure all AI sires and donor dams are approved for use, pull reports on traits like horned/polled and coat color, and also make sure you don’t need to run any defect tests.

◆ All AI sires and donor dams require a high density genomic panel. To see if an animal is approved, pull it up in an animal search and click on “Expanded Report”. The only exception to this is animals tested before 2012 may have only parentage.

◆ The ASA Board of Trustees recently approved the new 100K high-density genomic panel for AI sires and donor dams. This was an upgrade of the 50K low-density test, so the cost is only $50 moving forward to approve AI sires and donor dams. Animals tested on the previous GGP-LD (listed as a 47K in the animal’s DNA detail in Herdbook) do not qualify as a donor dam or AI sire.

➔ All other breed AI sires and donor dams also must have a high-density test to be approved. If the animal was tested through another association, this information can be shared with ASA. Low-density tests do not suffice, and if you have any questions, you are encouraged to contact ASA well before the time you are registering calves out of an AI sire or donor dam of another breed.

➔ For an animal to be PQB (parent qualified to both), both parents must have DNA on file. This means that other breed DNA profiles must be shared with ASA, which ideally will happen before progeny are tested. If an animal needs to be compared to a parent but ASA doesn’t have the parent’s DNA profile, it can take several weeks for the panels to be available for comparison.

➔ Traits like horned/polled, and coat color are not automatically included with genomic panels. They can be added on at a package rate.

➔ Place animals on file before ordering testing. For instructions go to Having a file number makes it easier to track testing, and when you place the animal on file, Herdbook will warn of any defect risk or additional traits that could be tested for, etc. This can also be really helpful for sale catalog preparation.

➔ Genetic defect holds happen in the following scenarios: An AI sire or donor dam is tracked for a genetic defect; A herd sire is tracked for a genetic defect. The majority of AI sires and donor dams will be tested, and the most common reason genetic holds happen is because herd sires have a genetic defect risk passed on from their dam, so the herd sire himself is clear to register, but the herd sire’s progeny is not.

◆ In an animal search, pull up the animal and click on TraitTrac. Use the key on the left to determine if the herd sire is tracked for anything.

◆ ASA suggests testing as far back in the pedigree as possible. For example, if the granddam is the oldest living animal that passed on that risk, she should be tested both to keep cost down, and clear the most pedigrees.

➔ If a genomic panel is completed, it will take around a week after results are uploaded for the genomicallyenhanced EPDs to appear. When results come through to ASA, the genomic data goes through a separate pipeline and through the evaluation. ASA will not notify you of changes in EPDs, and suggests taking a screenshot of the EPDs beforehand for comparison.

◆ You CANNOT receive EPDs on an unregistered animal by running a genomic test. With the exception of some Total Herd Enrollment options, all animals must be registered to have EPDs, and genomic tests do not change this.

◆ A genomic test only guarantees an improvement in the accuracy of EPDs, not necessarily the actual EPD.

➔ Around 2% of samples fail due to low call rates, and contamination and inadequate sampling cause additional failures. Check out the Down to the Genes series on the homepage for more information on how to avoid contamination and ensure samples don’t fail.



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