Meat scientist creates Pedigree board game |

Meat scientist creates Pedigree board game

In the cattle business, ranchers have to make important decisions to optimize health, nutrition and performance in their cow herd. From choosing the best herd bull to treating illness to genomics testing to marketing calves for a premium price, each and every management tool can increase profitability or create a loss.

Meat scientist Duane Wulf has captured the joys and challenges of livestock production in a new board game called, “Pedigree: The Animal Breeding Board Game.” Nominated for the 2018 Golden Arbutus Game Design of the Year, Wulf’s “Pedigree” allows players to experience the thrill of animal breeding and raising show ring champions through the use of genetic selection biology and herd management.

The game has been 25 years in the making, as Wulf envisioned how his multiple degrees in animal science could be simplified into a fun, fast-paced and educational game that recreated some of the decisions producers have to make every day in their operations.

“My reasons for designing Pedigree are to provide a great family fun board gaming experience for those who are passionate about animal breeding, and to bring the joy of animal breeding to those who enjoy family board games,” said Wulf. “I have been quite intrigued how the mechanisms of genetic selection mesh so well with board game mechanics.”

“The way the entire game plays out was very unique and interesting. I found myself just smiling the whole time playing. Every aspect of the game just kind of clicks.”Ed Faria, gamer

Wulf introduced Pedigree through a Kickstarter campaign, which will run from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. With just days left in the campaign, Wulf needs to raise $17,700 to bring the board game to life. Folks who are interested in the game can back the project with a $59 pledge. Their cards are only charged if the funding goal is achieved, and the final game will be available by the summer of 2019.

“Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were spending time outside with the animals and playing board games with my family,” said Duane Wulf, who grew up on a cattle ranch near Morris, Minn. “I wanted to create something that brings people together for some wholesome fun without being plugged in.”

Pedigree is played in six seasons — planning, breeding, gestation, identifying (determining genotype of unproven parents), birthing (calving or having babies), showing and marketing. Players can win trophies at the show and exchange cash for sales of animals and services (veterinary or health) rendered.

With a $950 pledge, the game can be customized to represent a specific breed of cattle, a different species or even an individual ranch. Currently, black cattle and Suffolk sheep will be options that backers can choose from.

“Pedigree is an exciting game where you strive to breed the best of the best, learning the decision process and animal husbandry along the way,” said Jeff McClure, a Suffolk sheep breeder from Illinois. “This is a great learning tool as you learn real-life failures and successes of livestock breeding.”

“The game is species-neutral, except for the 140 Animal Cards, so by adding new Animal Card decks it would be easy to play Pedigree with horses, dogs, cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, or whatever specie you fancy,” said Wulf. “However, each new specie will require new artwork and graphic design so the available species will depend on the success of this campaign. When the campaign ends, all backers will be able to choose from all available species.”

Wulf, a former meat science professor at South Dakota State University, currently resides in Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, where he serves as a missionary businessman with the non-profit organization, The Fatted Calf, which provides jobs and career training in three businesses — a cattle ranch, butcher shop and hamburger restaurant — to the fatherless and underprivileged youth in his community. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Fatted Calf.

Just as the agricultural industry has been quick to support the project, game play testers who aren’t familiar with animal breeding and husbandry, have also sung their praises.

“The way the entire game plays out was very unique and interesting,” said gamer Ed Farias. “I found myself just smiling the whole time playing. Every aspect of the game just kind of clicks.”

“When I first saw Pedigree, I wasn’t as intrigued by the theme until I began to play,” added Ben Vaterlaus, a play test gamer. “It is an interesting, 60-minute, action-selection game, but it’s especially great for animal lovers or those interested in ranching or agribusiness.”

“My guess is that there may be a lot of people out there who are interested in having their own copy of Pedigree, but are unfamiliar with how Kickstarter works,” said Wulf. “I have personally talked to several people who are very excited to get their copy of the game, but they are planning to wait until it is available at retail. I explain to them that there is no guarantee that Pedigree will ever be available at retail. Even if we reach our funding goal by Nov. 30, this may be the only print run of Pedigree. I hope that’s not the case, but this Kickstarter may be your only chance to get a copy of the game.”

Learn about The Fatted Calf by visiting Discover The Game of PEDIGREE by visiting To be a backer of the game on Nov. 1, link to:

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