ASA

Due to objective genetic predictions such as EPDs (expected progeny differences) and indexes, the cattle industry has made tremendous progress in production and efficiency. However, as the models that produce the predictions become more sophisticated and producers understand less of the mathematics behind them, some people are turning off from the technology.

This is a problem because, although calculation of modern genetic predictions has become complicated, the precision and reliability of the EPDs have likewise improved.

An EPD is defined as the difference in expected performance of future progeny of an individual, compared with expected performance at some base point for the population. EPDs are estimated from phenotypic and genomic merit of an individual and all its relatives. They are generally reported in units of measurement for the trait (e.g., lb., cm., etc.). EPDs are best used for comparing the relative genetic transmission differences to progeny between individuals.

 

What it boils down to is EPDs let a producer sort out genetic differences between animals, eliminating the “noise” of the environment. Some producers think they can do this better with their eyes or just a simple set of scales. This has been soundly proven wrong. The most glaring example of this occurred in Red Angus.

The breed was founded based on performance principles in 1954 with performance reporting as a requirement for registration from the very beginning. Although all Red Angus breeders had weights and measures from the beginning, the breed made no genetic progress for over 20 years. That all changed when it began converting this data into information in the form of EPDs. Since the breed started calculating EPDs, the genetic trend for traits measured has improved linearly.

Red Angus also studied the phenotypes for various traits and how they compared to the genetic predictions of the population. An example is weaning weight EPDs, which have been increasing linearly. This lines up perfectly with the breed’s adjusted weaning weights, which have improved at the same rate as the EPDs. EPDs have also allowed the breed to beat genetic antagonisms like increasing weaning weights without increasing birth weight.

Indexes are an even more powerful tool for genetic improvement. Certified Angus Beef studied when cows were flushed to either low or high $B ($Beef terminal index) bulls and all progeny were fed out and harvested. The progeny out of the high $B bulls were significantly better for all input traits into the index including weight per day of age, age at harvest, carcass weight, quality grade, and yield grade. The progeny of the high $B sires had $48.65 lower feedlot production costs and produced carcasses with $166.82 more value for a total financial benefit of $215.47.

The prediction models have also been proven to be unbiased. Cornell University did a retrospective study of the American Simmental Association’s cattle by going back and adding two years of data at a time. They then observed the differences in how cattle’s genetic predictions changed as they went from pedigree estimates through being proven sires. Animals changed up and down as the possible change chart indicated they would, as more information was added to the genetic predictions. They equally moved either up or down demonstrating no bias in the model producing the genetic predictions. If the model was biased, the predictions would tend to move in only one direction.

The basic input into genetic predictions is contemporary group deviations, and the models assume there is no environment by genotype interaction. Cornell also studied this in the Simmental population, and the assumption was validated as true.

That the models have been improving over time only makes the genetic predictions and indexes even that much more valuable.

Genetic predictions using field data were first introduced to the industry with the 1971 Simmental Sire Summary, but those early models were fraught with problems. The early models were based on sires and all dams were assumed to have equal genetic merit, which of course is not correct.

Early models also didn’t account for mating bias. The most common case of mating bias occurs when high-priced artificial insemination sires are only mated to producers’ top cows, so accounting for this bias is important. Over time, these and many more problems have been eliminated. However, with these improvements, the models have become ever more complicated and more of a challenge for the layperson to understand how they work.

 

This brings us to today’s modern genomic models, which are light years better than the old models, but the complicated statistics that go into the genetic predictions are admittedly hard to understand. The goal of the genetic predictions has always been to sort out what is genetic—thus will be transmitted to progeny—from what is due to environment. Marker-assisted selection is the ultimate way to determine genetic value because, by definition, genomics are not influenced by environment.

Adding genomics to traditional information that goes into genetic predictions—like contemporary group deviations, heritability, and trait correlations—all adds up to predictions that are more precise and reliable. They do a much better job of establishing genetic relationship between animals, as well as identifying markers associated with causative genes, all to improve accuracy of genetic predictions.

The whole goal to animal breeding is to improve cattle genetically. This means different things to different people—some are looking to optimize genetics to their environments while others are looking to maximize the genetic potential for traits.

Whatever a producer’s goal, EPDs and indexes are the best way to achieve it. Today’s prediction models do an unprecedented job of removing all the noise from EPDs and indexes, allowing producers to make the most informed genetic selection decisions possible.

It has been demonstrated time and again that visual evaluation and simple weights and measures are inferior substitutes for modern genetic prediction. Those who ignore objective genetic predictions do so at the long-term peril of their business’ ability to compete.

Performance pioneer Don Vaniman summed it up nicely in 1978 when he wrote, “Is it those who feel cattle that look good must perform, or those who accept that animals that perform look good?” — Dr. Bob Hough, WLJ correspondent

Dr. Bob Hough is the retired executive vice president of the Red Angus Association of America and a freelance writer.

 

Tonya Phillips grew up in Iowa and was a member of the Iowa Junior Simmental Association. She and her brother were fortunate enough to exhibit two Simmental heifers across Iowa and attend regional and national events. Phillips absolutely loved her time in the AJSA and also served on the AJSA Board of Trustees. She met her husband Chan while attending one of the National Classics.

Phillips shares, “We both realized the value of the AJSA and the lifelong skills that juniors learn. We knew that we wanted our children involved as well. There are many areas that donors can designate their funds within the Foundation.”. She encourages people to contribute to the area that they are passionate about so that area can be expanded and help educate members. A teacher for 27 years, Tonya will be retiring this month and moving to Oklahoma. Chan and Tonya have two children: her son, AK, who is an active AJSA member, and Morgan, former AJSA President, who recently married Sam Wallace. 

This is a specific objective that the ASF supports: 

AJSA Canadian Exchange Project: each summer, two AJSA Board of Trustee members will be randomly selected to attend the Young Canadian Simmental Association National Classic. This is more than just an opportunity to travel, but rather an opportunity for AJSA members to learn about international agriculture, new ideas to progress the association, and gain new friends in an attempt to build their resume and personal experience.

 

 

Dr. Mikell Davis, DVM

Starkville, Mississippi

Family: Wife, Mary Cheek Davis; daughters: Laura (Jon) Conroy, Lisa (Tony) Rook, Sara (Steve) Lyle; grandchildren: Morgan, Lauren, Erin, Lindsey, Justin

Employment: Little Creek Farm, LLC and retired from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State.

Mikell Davis, DVM is retired from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. His family owns Little Creek Farm, LLC (ASA 182335) which purchased its first full Fleckvieh Simmental cattle in 1993, and maintains the herd today. Davis enjoys attending sales for the personal interaction with other cattle breeders.

As a supporter of the breed, Davis encourages others to give to the Foundation to preserve and enhance the present for the future. Davis and his wife, Mary, live in Starkville and have three daughters and five grandchildren.

This is a specific objective that the ASF supports:

Walton-Berry Graduate Student Support Grant supports graduate education with an emphasis on genetic improvement of livestock. The fund originally started by Jim Berry of Wildberry Farms honors Dr. Bob Walton’s lifelong efforts in animal breeding and raising Simmental cattle. Walton-Berry Graduate Student Support Grant funds graduate education in research programs to directly improve applied livestock genetics and help build future experts in animal breeding. There are two awards - one for $5,000 and a second for $3,000 for graduate education programs; each recipient contributes to ASA Publication, Inc. regarding their research both SimTalk and the Register.


Emily Brinkman                  
New Bavaria, Ohio                   
Family: Parents: Tim & Peg, Brother Kyle             
Employment: Creative Director/Owner of Generation 6 Marketing.            

Emily Brinkman hails from New Bavaria in northwest Ohio. The AJSA has been a big part of Brinkman’s life because her parents Tim and Peg took her and her brother, Kyle, across the US to participate in the Regional and National Classics. She has served on the AJSA Board from 2008-2012, serving as President in 2011. Today, Brinkman owns Generation 6 Marketing, an agricultural marketing, and graphic design business, and is actively involved with her family’s 75 head cow-calf operation. She has donated her graphic design and marketing talents to AJSA and ASF projects since her time as an AJSA member ended.

Brinkman believes that each segment of the Foundation (Education, Research, and Youth) supports programs important to the Simmental breeds’ success. The youth program provides a strong foundation for the future membership, but we're also able to give the next generation the tools through education and research to continue the success of the Simmental breed. She also knows the impact the AJSA had on her life. “I strongly believe future generations should have the same youth program opportunities. Not only are youth programs important to me, but also the success and longevity of our breed,” says Brinkman.

 


Mark Smith          |    Picayune, Mississippi          
Mark's family includes his wife Debbie, their daughter Jessica, and their son Alan, his wife Sara Catherine, and two wonderful grandchildren, Ross Alan and Ella Catherine. 
Employment: Re/Max Premier Group for 15 years, previously ABS for 22 years.

Mark grew up in the dairy business until 1988, raising Registered Jersey cattle with his brother Neal and father Ezra Smith. In 1972, he learned to AI and began AIing his neighbors' herd of Simmental cattle. At this time he learned how much performance the breed offered. In 1988, after dispersing the Jerseys, Greg Brown, a Mississippi Simmental breeder, assisted him in getting in the breed. Mark purchased his first Simbrah in 1989. Jason Todd and Jennifer Rogers introduced the Regional and National Classics to the Smith's as they were showing some of the Smith's calves, and invited them to tag along. Once they realized the AJSA program was more than a cow show with the contests such as judging, sales talk, quiz, and speaking, they were hooked! It is the only show they attended that more kids were winners other than just the Grand Champion owner.

The AJSA is so much more than the show. Character building, leadership development, work ethic, people skills, plus making a lot of friends for all involved. The Smith's children, Alan and Jessica, benefited greatly from the AJSA program. It is truly priceless, and that is why we give to the Foundation. Not only that but you can earmark your giving, and the Foundation board will use it where specified. AJSA youth is the best investment for Foundation dollars there is...my kids are living proof.

Profiles will be added weekly!

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Alli and Maddi Willis, Marietta, Oklahoma, won first and second place in the Noble Research Institute Junior Beef Excellence Program carcass contest. 
 
A total of 56 steers from 12 counties were entered in the 23rd annual contest. Alli’s SimGenetics steer topped the contest, winning the senior in high school $2,000. Her younger sister, Maddi, was a close second winning $1,500 with a steer raised by her family’s Simmental operation. Alli and Maddi are the daughters of Jon, past ASA Board Member, and Wilma Willis. 

Promoting Simmental Genetics

On March 24, Michael Dikeman attended the Ozark Spring Festival at the Ozark Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri. This was in conjunction with the Missouri Simmental Association booth maned by Terry Nicholas and Kenneth Loomer. The purpose of the booth was to promote Simmental genetics.

What's Your Score

It’s that time of year! The Performance Advocate breeder scores will be pulled August 1, 2018 for 2016 Fall and 2017 Spring.

Is Data Needed Anymore?

Many wonder, with BOLT in place that calculates EPDs more accurately and DNA testing that can blend into EPDs to make them more accurate, is phenotypic data needed anymore? Yes! Animals cannot achieve high accuracy with genomic data alone.

The fuel that makes all of this work is DATA. Is all of your calving data in?

Check – by logging into your account -

Select Data Entry / Online

Select Inventory

Select Season and Year – below the graph is your score

 

How do you find what data is reported or missing? There are two ways to look this up:

Select Herd Mgmt / Reports

Select Your Group on the left (either 2016 Born Calves or 2017 Born calves) and on the right Select Performance Advocate Report

Sort Options – Sort by Birth Date

Select Generate Report - focus on 2016 Fall born or 2017 Spring born animals only

or

Data Search / Special Reports / Animals / Performance Advocate / Animal Data Submitted

Enter Enrollment Year / Season / Member Number

Select Get Results

If you have any questions, feel free to call Jannine Story at 406-587-4531 and or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

DNA Update

DNA Invoicing:   
Starting September 1, 2018, DNA invoicing will be done at the time of requesting the tests (instead of when results are received).  This will increase efficiencies and reduce the number of invoices you currently receive.  This is the first step to automate DNA kit requests - in the future you'll be able to order kits online.  Since there is a time element from ordering the kits to the completion of the testing - other type processing (registrations, THE enrollment, transfers) will not be delayed pending DNA payment for a period of time (to be determined).
Starting September 1, 2018, DNA invoicing will be completed at the time of requesting the tests (instead of when results are received).  This will increase efficiencies and reduce the number of invoices members currently receive.

Since there is a time element from ordering the kits to the completion of the testing - other types of processing (registrations, THE enrollment, transfers) will not be delayed pending DNA payment for a period of time, which will be determined.

We ask that if members have requested DNA kits in the past, or are requesting kits throughout the summer, that they please send the kits to the lab before September 1, 2018, so that the DNA invoicing transition is made as seamless as possible
 
New Genetic Condition Panel Pricing:
The Genetic Conditions Panel is undergoing changes to include all 7 of the genetic defects that American Simmental Association tracks. These defects are: AM, NH, CA, DD, OS, PHA, and TH. The new Genetic Conditions Panel will only be available with GGP-LD or GGP-HD testing and the add-on price for the panel will be $25. If the animal is not undergoing a GGP-LD or GGP-HD test, then defect testing will be $25 per defect.  If requesting the genetic conditions panel after a GGP-LD or GGP-HD test is complete, then the testing will be billed at single defect rates, which is $25 per defect.

International Genetic Solutions (IGS) is an unprecedented collaboration between progressive breed associations fervently committed to enhancing commercial profitability.  The collaboration has yielded the world’s largest genetic evaluation of beef cattle with over 17 million animals and 120,000+ genotypes.

In keeping with our commitment to the cattle industry, IGS is pleased to announce the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT.  The new genetic evaluation provides more predictive EPDs, better use of genomics, more accurate accuracy reported with EPDs, all with weekly evaluations.  The announcement ushers in a new era in genetic evaluation — an era made possible by a genetic evaluation system dubbed BOLT (Biometric Open Language Tools, owned by Theta Solutions, LLC).  

The concept for BOLT started in 2014 as a research endeavor between the American Simmental Association and Drs. Bruce Golden and Dorian Garrick.  BOLT is, quite simply, the most revolutionary and powerful genetic evaluation system in existence. Its power allows IGS to leverage genetic evaluation methodology that was once thought to be untenable on large databases — methodology that significantly improves genetic prediction.

In December 2016, IGS published a multi-breed stayability, the industry’s first EPD using BOLT and the first single-step methodology applied to a large beef cattle database.  Since that time, the IGS genetic evaluation team has worked toward fully implementing BOLT with an automated system that enables weekly evaluations for an entire suite of EPDs.  As of May 5th, 2018, ASA is the first of the IGS partners to publish a full suite of EPDs generated by the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT.  Each IGS partner has complete autonomy to determine the release date that best fits their organization.  As such, the release of EPDs by the other IGS partners is likely to be staggered over the next several weeks.  As always, we look forward to your questions and comments about what you see.

Here are the notable changes in the evaluation:

Movement of EPDs and reranking. EPDs and indexes will change. These changes will be more dramatic for younger, lower accuracy cattle.  The IGS team has tested the changes and proven the new EPDs result in superior predictions of genetic merit.

Shrinking of EPD range.  You will notice a reduction in the range of EPDs for most traits.  The IGS evaluation team tested the statistical veracity of the reduction and it has proven to be in line with expectations based on the genetic variation in the population.

Improved use of genomics.  With the switch to the BOLT software, IGS will use single-step genomic evaluation on all EPDs. Single-step uses DNA markers, pedigree information, and phenotypic data simultaneously in the prediction of EPDs. Previously, molecular breeding values (MBVs) were calculated from the genomic information and those MBVs were blended in a separate procedure into the EPD predictions. The single-step method squeezes more information from the DNA markers than the previous approach allowed. Additionally, with single-step, the genomic information will not only enhance each EPD for the genotyped animals but also will be used in the EPD estimates of relatives.

It is well established that DNA markers vary greatly in their effect on traits — ranging from large to virtually no impact. To leverage this biological fact in a statistically advantageous manner, the BOLT single-step method only uses markers that have a meaningful impact on the traits of interest, while ignoring those that have little to no effect. Research has shown that by using this approach, BOLT reduces statistical “noise” and thereby increases the accuracy of the EPD prediction compared to other single-step methods.

It is important to note, continued collection of phenotypic records remains a vital part of genetic predictions.  DNA testing will never replace the need to record and submit phenotypes.

More accurate accuracy.  In the previous IGS evaluation platform and all others in existence other than BOLT, the calculation of the accuracy associated with each EPD is achieved through “approximation” methods. It has long been known these methods are a less than optimal approach to the calculation of accuracy — tending to overestimate accuracy. By employing unique computing strategies that leverage both software and hardware efficiencies, BOLT performs what was previously unthinkable — utilizing a sampling methodology to calculate what is essentially true accuracy. Unlike approximated accuracies, BOLT-derived accuracies will result in predicted movements associated with possible change holding true over time. This is not the case with the previous IGS software or any other system currently in existence.

While the IGS evaluation team and partners are excited to release this new chapter in genetic evaluation, the new genetic evaluation system will only realize its true potential if the selection is made using its EPD and index values.  Hands down, there is no better (more accurate) way to select for quantitative traits than an EPD. Economic indexes predict net profit by weighing the EPD for economically relevant traits coupled with economic estimates. To compete with other protein sources, it is imperative that the beef industry adopts the best science and technology to make better breeding selection decisions.             

Please note, each IGS breed association has the latitude to publish the BOLT generated EPDs when the timing is right for their association.  

 

For more information about the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT, go to www.internationalgeneticsolutions.com.   

What to expect with the new IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT

Frequently Asked Questions

Validation of the new EPDs

Value of DNA tests

The IGS Multi-breed Stayability 

 

BIF CELEBRATES 50 YEARS

News by BIF Sponsor Lisa Bard of Blueprint Media

 The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) is celebrating 50 years in 2018. Themed “Elevating the Industry,” the Annual Meeting and Research Symposium are poised not only to celebrate the last 50 years but launch into the next 50.

BIF was officially founded in 1968, but its formation began the previous January during a meeting at the National Western Stock Show. At that time, a group of producers and researchers – spearheaded by Colorado cattle producer, lawyer and performance evaluation advocate Ferry Carpenter, and Frank Baker, the federal Extension livestock specialist in 1967 – met with the goal to move the cattle industry from its historical basis of visual appraisal to one of evaluation based on performance.

Thus began a very powerful and intentional “performance movement” in the cattle industry that continues and thrives today. Fifty years later, the 2018 BIF Annual Meeting and Research Symposium will return to Colorado June 20-23 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center in Loveland.

Each year, the symposium focuses on research, innovation and education for producers and scientists alike on current issues facing the beef cattle industry “to connect science and industry to improve beef cattle genetics.” BIF’s three-leaf-clover logo symbolizes the link between industry, Extension and research.

The beginnings

In the late ’60s and ’70s when BIF was formed, the cattle industry was experiencing a great deal of change with the influx of Continental breeds and the implementation of artificial insemination and crossbreeding. Many states had Beef Cattle Improvement Associations (BCIA) but no standard procedures or measurements. At the same time, land-grant universities were conducting more research on genetics and how genetic evaluation could improve cattle herds. Germplasm research being conducted at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center would provide incentive and data to create and formulate genetic evaluation. Other data collected by producers and breed associations would add to that.

Creating and utilizing new evaluation methods based on performance versus visual appraisal was not an easy road. The first step was to standardize performance testing, including the terminology, the actual methods of measurement and the education as to what the information meant. Over the years, there were a few growing pains and disagreements, but the common goal prevailed. 

Steve Radakovich of Radakovich Cattle Company, Earlham, Iowa, was BIF president in 1983-1984 when BIF was still young and evolving. As a graduate student at Colorado State University in the ’70s under renowned animal geneticist Jim Brinks, Ph.D., Radakovich was encouraged to attend BIF. This early exposure led to his lifelong participation in BIF. 

“Back then we were a bit of a divided camp. We had one group who were the ‘weigh and pray’ folks,” Radakovich says. “They would stand by the scales and pray that the animal weighed more than he did the time before. Then there was the systems group, which I was a part of, who asked questions such as, ‘Is bigger really better?’

“The weigh and pray guys thought that the systems guys were nuts and these two approaches led to some pretty good arguments.” 

At that time, some were leaning heavily toward advancing methodology and figuring out how to standardize data collection and utilization, which then led to discussion about the direction of the seedstock industry. During this critical time in the industry, BIF facilitated this direction through the exchange of ideas. 

Willie Altenburg, owner of Altenburg Super Baldy Ranch just north of Fort Collins, Colo., and breeder of Simmental and Angus seedstock for more than 40 years, was BIF president in 1999-2000. His recollection of the early days was that BIF “was very small with not very high attendance. In some ways that was positive because you make a lot of progress, given small committee meetings. 

“There were times when maybe six people were voting and making decisions on things like formulas and direction, and people like me would sit back in awe in those small meetings and watch those great minds at work.” 

Once BIF began to grow and reach a larger audience, in part due to the availability of the presentations and proceedings online, BIF exploded, with attendance now more than 500 people and sometimes as large as 700. It not only affects meeting attendees but also reaches a global audience who access online information after the meetings. 

“BIF has always been the place where performance cattlemen gather and philosophize about performance and genetic issues,” Altenburg says. “Over the years, the contributions of BIF to the performance cattle industry have been industry leading. BIF gave the concepts, research and performance philosophy a place to launch and grow, and other countries still look to the United States for performance testing and evaluation.” 

Angus and Braunvieh breeder Steve Whitmire of Ridgefield Farms in North Carolina served as BIF president in 2013-2014. He originally became involved in BIF to get as close as possible to the cutting edge of the beef industry – and is why he continues to be involved.  

“Because BIF is the one organization that bridges across all breeds and academic institutions, it helps focus limited research dollars into the most promising areas,” Whitmire says. “The early pioneers set aside their breed priorities and personal egos and focused on what was best for the industry.” 

Mark Enns, Ph.D., professor of animal breeding and genetics at Colorado State University and organizer of the 2018 BIF Symposium, also got his first exposure to BIF as a graduate student in the ’80s.“BIF helped create the unified vision for genetic improvement throughout the beef industry and established common ground for all the breed associations and all the cooperative breed improvement groups to work under,” Enns says. “We cannot discount the brilliant minds who came up with the idea for BIF and recognized the need for it.” 

Throughout the years, BIF has made significant contributions to the beef industry, particularly the seedstock sector. “BIF has allowed the smaller, family seedstock producer to compete on the same playing field with the larger seedstock producer,” Radakovich says. “BIF standardized evaluation so that the smaller operators could utilize the methodology, could pursue an objective selection process and could compete with larger operations. Without the standard methodology, they would not have access to those tools.” 

Matt Spangler, Ph.D., associate professor of animal science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says he believes that “the work of the initial founders of BIF created the platform that we know today as National Cattle Evaluation. Without these efforts, estimation of the genetic merit of animals as parents would have been delayed and would look substantially different today.”

Current BIF President Donnell Brown, R.A. Brown Ranch, Throckmorton, Texas, remembers his first BIF meeting. “BIF was the first cattle meeting I went to after I graduated from college,” Brown says. “I was able to talk with the scientists whose research I had studied and talk to the breeders whose catalogs I had been pouring through. They were the leaders in the beef industry. It was inspirational. 

“The seedstock producers weren’t in sales mode and we weren’t at a breed association meeting where politics were involved. It was just a meeting about the facts and how we would use the resources we had to more efficiently and effectively raise better beef. BIF is still about that.”

Others believe that BIF’s greatest contributions have been the development of expected progeny difference (EPD) standards and technology; advancing the use of new, more accurate selection tools and providing a forum for the industry and scientific communities to exchange ideas. 

Today’s challenges and beyond

Fifty years later, genetic evaluation has progressed to genomically enhanced EPDs, across-breed evaluations, evaluation indexes and EDPs on a huge array of traits. Today’s cattle industry is also faced with a great many issues including animal welfare, the environment, diet and health, and food safety, all of which can be affected by genetics in some part. 

According to Radakovich, genetics can have a big effect on issues for the future, particularly in adapting cattle to different climates and environments all over the world as well as in the United States. Some are studying the grazing habits of different biological types of cattle, which appear to have the same heritability as weaning weight. 

“We could be breeding cattle in the future that are hill climbers and will graze hillsides versus riparian areas because that is their genetic predisposition,” Radakovich says. “This is where BIF fits in with issues such as animal welfare, animal behavior, etc., especially with genomics. If we can isolate the gene that determines grazing habits, then it will have a big impact.” 

According to Enns, BIF will help guide the industry in how we use, validate and verify the rapidly evolving genomic pipeline and put these new traits to use. Regional evaluation will be a big thing in the future, including the development of regional EPDs and development of specialized adaptability traits. Scientific attention to these traits has been coming for the past five to 10 years and is now becoming more important for regions of the world where climate, adaptability, disease tolerance and feed efficiency are big issues.  

“Genetic evaluation may help us balance the competing needs of global beef production with sustainability and conservation,” Enns says. “The United States is a first-world country and our needs are different than those in third-world countries who are simply concerned with finding a protein product to eat. Understanding these competing visions and how genetic tools can be used to address these visions is important.” 

Radakovich agrees. “The population increase of today and tomorrow poses a great threat to resources and, as beef producers, we have to figure out how we can remain sustainable under this pressure that gets worse and worse all the time,” he says. “We must be adaptable with fewer and fewer resources. Our big advantage is that cattle are ruminants and can consume feedstuffs that can’t be consumed and converted by other protein sources.”

Genomics can be comparable to the computer age with gene mapping and epigenetics as the next cutting-edge technologies. Genomics and genetic advancements will also allow commercial producers to concentrate on other issues. 

“If a commercial operation is doing well genetically, then they can move on to address some of the larger, industry concerns such as environmental issues, food safety, and animal welfare. A good manager can only handle a few topics at a time, and if their genetics are solid, then they can worry about the other concerns,” Radakovich says. 

While many, including Whitmire, believe that BIF’s greatest contribution was the development of EPD standards and technology, the future is wide open. “I have no doubt that the genetic tools for evaluation will become infinitely more accurate and widely used in the coming decades, and the industry will profit from this,” Whitmire says. “BIF will help recognize the long-term issues that face the cattle and beef industry and will focus resources to solve those problems.” 

Spangler has a broader view. “Genetic evaluation will change such that ‘seedstock’ will drift further and further away from ‘purebred,’” Spangler says. “The data used to inform genetic merit will be weighted more heavily towards commercial-level data. The entities participating in data generation for genetic evaluation and seedstock production will change such that there is more alignment between the end-product and germplasm at the nucleus level. The general nature of breed associations, and their role will change. I’m not sure if these changes occur in 10 or 50 years, but they will occur.”

Elevating the industry

The 2018 50th Anniversary BIF Symposium promises to address all this and more. 

“BIF is the one meeting where you get the interaction of the genetic improvement leaders in both industry and academia,” Enns says. “If what we are developing in science is not able to be translated to the industry, then we are wasting our time. There has always been this free-flow conversation of constructive criticism for the betterment of genetic improvement. This meeting is where the appropriate application of science is developed by discussions of the people using the science and the people developing it.”

BIF Vice President Lee Leachman, Leachman Cattle of Colorado, Wellington, Colo., agrees. “This is the meeting where practice and theory meet and the learning is going both ways. If we really could get into the nuts and bolts of the history of BIF, we would likely find that most of the innovations sprang from the BIF meetings and the discussions there. If you want to stretch your imagination, but do so at a level that can be put into practice, this is the place to do that,” Leachman says. 

For 2018, the first day is dedicated to what the future of North American beef production looks like. The speakers, breakout session and wrap-up will evaluate the future from a variety of viewpoints, including beef quality, sustainability, efficiency and traits not yet considered. 

The second day is about data – how to collect it, who will own it and how it’s used. How can we better leverage all the data in an internet-permeated society? This year’s program is also about helping the industry look at the possible/probable issues that will need to be addressed over the next 50 years. 

The meeting also includes a Young Producer’s Symposium, an evening at the CSU Stadium Club, a Friday dinner out sponsored by Leachman Cattle of Colorado and Zinpro, and area tours on Saturday.

The 2018 BIF Research Symposium and Convention is hosted by the CSU Department of Animal Sciences, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the Colorado Livestock Association. For more information, a full schedule and registration information, visit beefimprovement.org

Commercial Programs

http://simmental.org/site/index.php/commercial-services/carcass-merit-programs-cmpWould you like to get paid to use some of the most promising herd sire prospects in the industry?  Consider becoming a Carcass Merit Program(CMP) Cooperator

As a Carcass Merit Program cooperator herd, ASA tests a number of young, unproven, high prospect sires through artificial insemination on the cattle within the cooperator’s herd. The purpose of this is to obtain data on the progeny of the sires in order to improve accuracy on the sires EPD’s and adjust the EPD’s according to how the progeny perform. This allows bull owners and genetic companies to identify the high prospect sires and high-quality genetics early on in the sire’s life. Also, by improving the accuracy of the EPD’s, the sires become more predictable and marketable.

Find out more now.

 


Cow Herd DNA Roundup (CHR)  is a research project with GeneSeek

Animal breeding is entering a new era. As demonstrated in the pig and dairy industries, gathering and incorporating vast amounts of genomic data into the genetic evaluation accelerates progress. Holsteins, for example, have genotyped 1.6 million cattle and subsequently doubled their genetic improvement rate.

Female genotypes are rare and valuable, especially to predict maternal traits such as stayability and maternal calving ease. Furthermore, genotyping entire herds improves genomic evaluations by reducing bias created when only the best cattle are genotyped. Therefore, gathering massive amounts of genotypes on entire cow herds will significantly improve the genomic predictions and rate of genetic progress.

In August, the ASA Board of Trustees voted to offer a $20 genomic profile (50K including parentage) to members who test their entire cow herd (a $30 savings). Wait, there’s more! Breeders who submit cow weights with either body conditions scores or hip heights receive an additional $5 off per test — an amazing price of $15/sample for something breeders currently pay $50 per test for. This offer is for a limited time only — samples must be submitted to ASA by December 15, 2018. Don’t wait until next December 2018 to join this movement, there is a capped budget for this project so breeders need to submit samples early to ensure these discounts.

Find out more now.


International Genetic Solutions Feeder Profit Calculator (FPC)
 
Capitalizing on novel technology usually requires a tremendous learning curve and a major outlay of dollars.  Not this time! The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is unique. It will offer a level of genetic awareness of crossbred feeder calves that have not been previously possible in the beef business.  The IGS science team, the IGS partner associations, and the world’s largest beef genetic evaluation database allow the IGS FPC to be delivered at no cost to producers. That is correct. No Cost!
 
 
 
 

 
Total Herd Enrollment (THE) is a cow inventory-based program.
Participation in the program requires an inventory of all your Simmental registered cows that is updated yearly.
Option D fits herds where commercial producers are interested in receiving EPDs on their replacement heifers. 
 
 
 
 
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