CSPA Genomics and Genetic Testing Program


CSPA Genomics Program

The CSPA and Delta Genomics are collaborating to provide Speckle Park breeders with the tools and information they need to make the best breeding choices in the present and for the future.  This initial program of testing will also provide to the Association the means by which to assess the prevalence of three genetic conditions within the Speckle Park breed.  Please be assured that the purpose of this testing is to assist breeders in making sound breeding choices and not to cancel any registrations.  Amendments to the CSPA By-laws have been proposed in order to ensure that registrations are not cancelled as a result of these tests.

Moreover, these tests are NOT required to register Speckle Park calves at this time.  For these tests to be mandatory for registration requires the CSPA By-laws to be amended by the vote of members present at an Annual General Meeting and then must receive the approval of the Minister of Agriculture before implementation.

CSPA-Delta Genomics Order Form (PDF Format)  (Sample Collector Bar Code is only relevant if using a sample collector with a bar code. Otherwise leave blank.  

What is being tested?

This testing program includes five “tests” offered to breeders in two configurations.

1.     21K SNP Genotyping.  This Genomic Panel of twenty-one thousand SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism) will provide genetic evidence for use in the future.  When sufficient breed specific physical data (e.g. BW, WW, REA, etc.) has been collected, these genomic panels will prove useful to enhance the accuracy of genetic predictions for Speckle Park.

2.     Igenity Gold Profile Traits.  This Gold Profile offers insights into the genetic potential of any given animal on fifteen traits: birth weight, calving ease direct, calving ease maternal, heifer pregnancy rate, docility, milk, mature weight, residual feed intake, average daily gain,  weaning weight, tenderness, marbling, rib eye area, fat thickness, and carcass weight.

3.     Myostatin.  Myostatin is responsible for normal muscle development.  Double muscling is the result of any of nine mutated variants to normal myostatin. This test checks for all possible mutations.  Double muscling is accompanied by other characteristics which as a group render double muscled animals dysfunctional in the Canadian beef industry.  Carriers may not be identifiable by phenotype (appearance) alone.

4.     Polled/horned.  Speckle Park are a polled breed.  And yet horned Speckle Park continue to appear.  Scurs or “wiggle horns” are not horns as such and are the product of a different gene.  However, the evidence is now in – every animal with a scur or scurs is also carrying a horn gene.  The use of scurred animals in breeding programs has spread the horn gene around in the general SP population.  Increasingly commercial cattlemen want polled bulls, pure for polled, in order to eliminate horns naturally.

5.     Black/red colour.  Red is a simple recessive to black.  If one parent is pure for black, the calf will always be black.  In the case of SP black colour with white.  This test identifies animals which carry the red gene and thus have the potential to produce red calves.  This test also identifies carriers of the wild colour (E+) which in turn may explain the SP calves born with a rusty black colour.  Since neither CSPA nor SPI (Australia, New Zealand) register red Speckle Park, it is important to identify red carriers and limit their use as herd sires, in artificial insemination and embryo transfer work as well.  Also some commercial cattlemen want to use Speckle Park and still keep their herd black, even if black and white.

Two Packages of Tests Available

These five “tests” are offered to breeders in two packages as presented in the attached order form.  Each of the packages has a different price and a different rebate.

1.     Genomics Program Package -- $136 with a 50% rebate.

This package includes the 21K SNP Genotyping panel, the Igenity Gold Profile and the genetic testing for myostatin, polled/horned, black/red.  The rebate of 50% is available through a CAAP (Canadian Agriculture Adaptability Program) funded program administered by CBBC (Canadian Beef Breeds Council) and CSPA.  To be eligible for the refund, the individual animal must be tested for all five tests.  The results are returned directly to the person who submitted the order form and to the office of CSPA.  There is a cap on the funds available.

2.     Genetic Testing Only Combination -- $95 with a $20 rebate.

This package includes the three tests relating to myostatin/double muscled, polled/ horned and black/red coat colour.  To be eligible for the financial incentive, the individual animal must be tested for all three conditions and the test results submitted by Delta directly to CSPA.  The Canadian Speckle Park Association provides the $20 incentive.  This incentive rebate is limited to 500 animals.

Which animals do I test?

Priority in testing needs to be given to herd sires, artificial insemination donor sires and especially so if offered publically, and donor cows in embryo transfer programs and especially so when embryos are collected for re-sale and/or export.

Will the test results be made public?

The test results of any given individual animal will be returned by Delta Genomics to the person who submitted the hair sample for testing and to the CSPA office.  Remember that the purpose of the testing to help breeders make informed breeding choices and to help CSPA determine frequency of these genetic conditions in the breed.  The CSPA office will hold the test results in confidence until requested by the owner of the animal to release them.  The CSPA By-laws (Section 19, 3 and 4) provide for the possibility of the publication of test results.

How do I get in on the testing and the rebate?

Complete the accompanying Genomic Order Form; include hair samples, include the full payment price and submit everything to Delta Genomics as identified on the Order Form.  Delta Genomics, 4244-10230 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4P6.

Yes, you will have to collect a second hair sample from the animal to be tested.

Yes, you need to pull a second hair sample for these tests.  You do not have to apply separately for the rebate or incentive.  Delta Genomics submits a statement monthly to CSPA for which tests have been paid for.  CSPA then applies for the CAAP funding.  You will be sent the rebate or incentive directly by CSPA.  Please be patient because receiving the CAAP funding sometimes takes a bit of time.

Why can I not apply for these tests and rebates when I apply to register my calves through CLRC and when I submit hair samples to Genserve?

This pilot project of voluntary testing is being conducted through a different laboratory (Delta Genomics) primarily because the 21K genomic panel is required to access CAAP funding from which the 50% rebate is comes.  Moreover, it was thought best for this initial testing project that this testing project be kept distinct from registration, since these tests are not a condition for registration of any Speckle Park calf.

In the event that these tests become mandatory for the registration of Speckle Park, this process will be stream lined. 

Which tests are not included in this project?

The tests for Leptin, PMCH, IGF2 and CRH4 are readily available through Quantum Genetix/ Genserve in Saskatoon but are not part of this CSPA Genomics Program.


Genomic Dead Speckle Park Sires Program

The Directors of the Canadian Speckle Park Association wish to extend to Speckle Park Breeders, present and past, the opportunity to donate a single dose of semen from deceased Speckle Park sires.  The single dose of semen is sufficient to develop a 21K SNP Genotyping Panel for future use in the genomic assessment of Speckle Park.  The sample will be processed at the Association’s expense.

If you have and are willing to donate a single dose from such a sire, please send it to the Canadian Speckle Park Association.  The procedure is very simple.  Remove the straw from the tank and allow it to warm to room temperature.  Refrigeration is not necessary.   Find a simple ball point pen which is long enough, remove the ink tube and place the straw of semen in its place.  Place in a cardboard tube mailer or bubble wrap package and mail to CSPA.

Canadian Speckle Park Association

Box 773

Crossfield, AB T0M 0S0


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