Concerns about the use of DNA testing technology for eugenics is a perpetual concern, but in the search for better beef, genetic profiling of bulls is gaining traction.
According to radio station KUNC, bull breeders are increasingly turning to genetic testing to fetch the highest prices for the best bulls based on the animals' genetic profiles.
"The bull [that ranchers] used two years ago — they're not going to use him again," Gordon Doak, president emeritus of the National Association of Animal Breeders, tells KUNC. "There's new ones coming online all the time that have better genetics. That's why (demand) has increased."
Indeed, one Angus bull, named Elation, fetched a world record auction price, $800,000, a few months ago, based on his impressive genes. Elation, you see, is descended from a famous family of beef cattle "and has the genetic recipe for efficient, meat-producing cattle."
"Perfect footed. Perfect uttered. Fertile," says Brian Bell, who teamed up with a fellow rancher, David Bogle, for the winning bid. "You know these cattle have some longevity and will stay in people's herd and allow them to be profitable.
"It's an investment in our herds," he says. "And then also we'll sell semen throughout the world and hopefully help pay for the bull."
Elation's semen — it's fetching $50 per sample, about double the usual $20 to $25 per sample for Angus bull semen.
Bull genetic testing got a shot in the arm when the American Angus Association launched a genomic testing kit for $37 late last year, which allows ranchers to send in a tissue or blood sample and receive a report on how that bull's genes compares to others in the breed.
Wes Tiemann, a cattle sales coordinator and producer, says that at sales now, more and more customers inquire about cattle genomics and he expects that demand for genetic testing will only increase with consumer demands for high-quality beef.