Looking at the genetic makeup of cattle to determine their value is nothing new. An examination of a small sample of hair or blood can reveal if a calf has a genetic disease that will lower its market price.

Now, a team of clinicians and diagnosticians and genetic researchers at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are looking to test those calves earlier — before they are born. The scientists are researching a method to determine if a bovine is genetically sound when it is still an embryo prior to being implanted in its dam.

This process, if successful, would allow producers to select which embryos are valuable before spending the time, effort and expense of producing a calf only to find out that it has genetic defects that render it of little value.