ASA

ASA seeks an energetic, personable person who enjoys agriculture and the industries that support it. This person must understand and have leadership experiences with youth development in university, 4-H and/or FFA programs
and with show programs and events. This person must also understand the attention and networking required to successfully fundraise and work with the Foundation Board.

Please submit your cover letter, resume and references to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by October 22, 2018.

The main goals of this position are:
• Youth Programs and Events. Enhance the life skills of ASA’s junior membership through leadership, business, networking, and communication training. Enhance the beef industry awareness of the membership.
• ASF Manager. To take the lead for the fundraising direction and auctions, responsible for interacting and supporting fundraising groups, Foundation promotion and advertising, and to represent the Foundation and ASA at specific fundraising events. 

Responsibilities of this position:

Youth Programs.
• Coordinate and guide AJSA (Junior) Board to be self-sufficient and provide a platform for AJSA members to grow and understand all aspects of the beef industry.
• Coordinate National Classic and provide support and direction for the Regional Classics.
• ASA representation (involvement) with industry youth programs; FFA, 4-H, and other youth programs through universities and other breed associations.  

American Simmental Simbrah Foundation Liaison.
• Liaison with the Foundation Board.
• Maintains dialog and supports fundraising groups, projects and programs.
• Correspondence and recognition of all donors/contributors.
• Promotion and advertising through print copy and social media.
• Representative at selected/approved fundraising events.
• In charge of the Annual Fundraiser/Gala.

Full-time Position. Strongly prefer to have employee based at ASA Headquarters in Bozeman, MT. Five or more years’ experience working in the beef industry and with youth programs required. There will be extensive travel with this position.
Salary negotiable. Salary and benefits may be discussed during the interview.

 
Bozeman, MT-The American Simmental Association (ASA) celebrated its 50 years anniversary in conjunction with their annual Fall Focus board meeting and educational symposium at the ASA headquarters in Bozeman, August 25-29. Educational sessions, interactive committee meetings, and a pitchfork fondue highlighted the event, offering something for commercial and seedstock cattle producers alike.

 

To kick off the five-day event, 300-people--including local residents, former ASA staff, members of the association, international cattle producers, and many more with ties to the Association-- were in attendance for ASA's 50-year anniversary dinner on Saturday, August 25. Participants enjoyed a pitchfork fondue and live music by Sam Platts and The Great Plainsmen, Pony, MT. Dr. Bob Hough introduced his new book, Simmental's American Journey, highlighting the Simmental cattle breed in the United States. In addition, Wade Shafer, ASA's Executive Vice President, took a look back at the progression of ASA since its founding in 1968.

 

Dr. Wade Shafer and Steve McGuire presenting "From Airplanes to Video Games"The educational sessions featured presentations from industry professionals, scientists, and ASA leaders discussing ASA's Genetic Evaluation System, the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT, genomics, EPDs, and the National Cattle Evaluation. The speakers include: Dr. John Pollak , Professor Emeritus Cornell University; Dr. Bruce Golden, Theta Solutions, LLC;  Dr. Wade Shafer, ASA's EVP; Steve McGuire, ASA Chief Operations Officer; Dr. Mahdi Saatchi, Lead Genomicist, International Genetics Solutions; Charlie Will, Former Manager of Holstein Sire Program for Select Sires; Dr. Matt Spangler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Dr. Bob Hough, author of Simmental's American Journey. The day wrapped up with a dinner hosted by the Montana Simmental Association.

 

 
 
In addition to the educational session, the ASA Board of Trustees held their fall board meeting, which included interactive committee meetings, giving cattle producers the opportunity to connect with the ASA Trustees. The ASA staff reported on association programs and answered questions. ASA's processing team held their inaugural Herdbook Services tutorial session focused on the most useful functions of ASA's data reporting system.   Pictured to the right is Dr. Wade Shafer and Steve McGuire presenting "From Airplanes to Video Games".
 
To view video presentations and more photos please visit www.fallfocus.org.
 
 
 

  

Click here to view all videos.

Meet Cathy Eichacker          |             Salem, South Dakota                         

Cathy Eichacker, the newest member to the Foundation, grew up in Salem, SD. Eichacker married her high school sweetheart, Steve, and they moved to the family farm and continued growing the Simmental herd that Steve’s dad, Raphael, started in 1971. Raising registered Simmental cattle was a bit different for Eichacker since her family raised hogs and had a small herd of commercial cattle. Eichacker & Steve have three children, Amanda (Dana) Buttemeier, Nick (Jordan) Eichacker, and Adam Eichacker, and three grandchildren, Hunter, Taylor & Ellie.


Eichacker worked as an Assistant Finance Manager for 25 years before deciding to transition back to working full-time on the farm. Along with working on the farm, Eichacker has been a volunteer for the County Fair Board, 4-H Leader, the Salem Summer Youth & Rec, and many organizations for St. Mary’s Catholic Church.


For the past 20 years, Eichacker has been the junior advisor for the South Dakota Junior Simmental Association and has also served as Secretary on the South Dakota Simmental Association (SDSA) Board. The SDSA has hosted the North Central Regional Classic twice in the past six years with Eichacker taking the role as coordinator. “Working with our youth, the future of our breed has been such a delight, watching these kids grow each year from crying the first time they took the Cattleman’s Quiz, to getting up enough nerve to compete in the public speaking contest, and then winning a prize. The smiles on their face are priceless,” she states.


“I’m excited to be a part of the Foundation Board and help out anywhere I can. I have seen the benefits of AJSA and we are very fortunate to have this program available for our youth, they are not only showing cattle, but developing lifelong skills and making lifelong relationships,” Eichacker shares, “Donating to the Foundation is an easy decision, what better place to contribute…but to the future of our breed. I am eager to learn all about the Foundation and work with my fellow board members and junior members.”

This is a specific objective that the ASF supports:

Each year state associations host to the largest SimGenetics event in the country, one of the most prestigious youth livestock events, the AJSA National Classic. With each year’s National Classic bigger than the last, more and more SimGenetic enthusiasts attend the National Classic and purchase SimGenetics; at the same time, state associations are saddled with a growing financial responsibility in hosting. Help lighten the load by contributing and ensuring many years of AJSA National Classics to come.

 

Meet Foundation Board Member Bob Mullion

Palo Verde Valley, CA

Bob, Jamie, Michael and Jamey Mullion operate Red River Farms, a diversified farming operation in the Palo Verde Valley, along the Colorado River near Blythe, California. They run 150 purebred and SimAngusTM females on irrigated pasture, focusing on performance, calving ease, and phenotype. Bob managed a full blood operation in Colorado following graduation from Cal Poly, and has been passionate about the breed ever since.

Mullion is a strong believer that the future of the Simmental breed is dependent upon its youth and is an avid supporter of the Western and National AJSA programs. One of his greatest joys is watching his granddaughters, Madison, Logan, and Hayden in the showring.

This is a specific objective that the ASF supports:

The Eastern and Western Regions have each formed state groups to fundraise for their yearly Regional Classics. The Eastern Regional group hosts a fundraiser at the NAILE each year, allowing states in the east to step up more freely to host classics, due to a lower financial cost. The Western Region has also formed their own group. The key is to see states within a specific region as one unit, rather than individuals. The establishment of these regional groups is to raise funds for the Eastern and Western Regional Classics, despite which state holds the classic

 

 

 

Scott Cowger

Meet Foundation Board Member Scott Cowger

Kansas City, Missouri

Scott Cowger purchased his first Simmental bred heifer in 1982 which led to an active involvement with the AJSA growing up. Cowger then became active at a state level in Missouri. He has served on the Missouri Simmental Association board as well as the ASA Board for three years. His involvement has rubbed off on his daughter Jordan, who is currently the AJSA President.

Scott and his family enjoy attending the AJSA National Classic each year. He believes that the Simmental breed has the best National Classic with the various events youth compete in to become well-rounded individuals. This involvement over the years leads to their giving to the Foundation. Being involved with this breed for over 35 years he is a passionate believer in the American Simmental Association and its members.  Cowger states, "The future is very bright in our youth and the scientific data we as a breed have compiled is second to none.  Ensuring the future of our breed for years to come would be the biggest reason someone should support the foundation. There are numerous areas of interest and working cooperatively through financial donations would greatly assist the breed for years to come."

This is a specific objective that the ASF supports:
AJSA Canadian Exchange Project. Each summer, two AJSA Board of Trustee members are 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, and gain new friends in an attempt to build their resume and personal experience.

 

Meet Foundation Board Member Lori Eberspacher            |            

Marshall, MN                            
Family: husband, Val; daughter Amanda, favorite son-in-law Mark and granddaughter Kinslee Hope                       
Employer: Owner of Eberspacher Ent Inc Sale Management for 30 years.                

Lori Eberspacher is no stranger to the Foundation. Along with her husband, Val, Eberspacher lives in Marshall, Minnesota, where they operate Eberspacher Enterprises Inc. Sale Management. Both Val and Lori were raised on purebred operations, as well as raising their daughter, Amanda in the cattle industry. The seedstock business is near and dear to their hearts. The Eberspachers have been promoting the Foundation and the AJSA for the past 21 years, and Lori has strong conviction toward the cause.

“It is my belief that if you have a strong Junior program, you will have a strong breed association for years to come. The AJSA has been so successful at allowing youth who love the livestock industry to follow their dreams and in the process, teach them the importance of the dedication this breed has done for making the science/research equal the success of this breed,” Eberspacher states. “That is the reason I believe in supporting the Foundation to be able to touch the lives of so many youth in a positive way. The Foundation is set up to allow everyone to support their interest and add to the breed for research, science, education, and youth. There is a place for everyone to support the Foundation, and yes, one person can make a difference!”

This is a specific objective that the ASF supports:

Established in 1981, the Merit Award is designed to provide recognition to junior members who have made “significant contributions to their community, home, family, school and the Simmental or Simbrah breeds of cattle.” As college tuition continues to increase, the Foundation continues to support 16 AJSA members each year by awarding over $26,250 in scholarships, 11 Silver Merit Awards and 5 Gold Merit Awards, to help them continue their collegiate educational endeavors.

 
 
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!

Go to www.simmental.org/book to order your copy.

Excerpt from the Foreword written by Dr. John Pollak.                             

"The reader of this book will gain knowledge of the history of the Simmental breed, the Association and the people behind the breed. Embracing the story of Simmental in the United States beef industry may help create a sense of accomplishment and relevance that current membership can take pride in as they carry the banner of the breed forward. But there is also value in studying history. Generations of cattle and of the ranchers and farmers who produced those cattle have come and gone over the past 50 years. They faced cyclical cattle markets, environmental and social issues, and challenges that come from moving an organization and a diverse membership forward. They made mistakes and at times got off course, yet learning from these miscues prepares today's leaders for making future decisions. Bold decisions were made that created positive change and should instill confidence in future leadership as they seek to be innovative in new endeavors. The constant threat in the past is that they continued to adhere to the core principle of data collection and utilization. Hence, I encourage all who read this book to keep in mind how knowledge of this history will help in addressing current aspirations for producing better cattle while addressing new challenges that face not just Simmental but the entire cattle industry".  

Paulette Cochenour and Lilly Platts researching and locating photos for Simmental's American Journey.    

Paulette Cochenour and Lilly Platts locating photos and researching for the history book.

"Simmental's American Journey" will be available for purchase at Fall Focus 2018 and 50 Year Celebration! Stay tuned on how to get your copy if you can't make it to the celebration!

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.

 

ASA has expanded the opportunities for you to request a knowledgeable person to an event.  This may be in a formal presentation, one of the speakers at an event, or a few minutes in front of the crowd with an invite to consult one-on-one about ASA's programs and services.  We are seeking members who would like an event to be considered; here are the parameters to determine possible ASA attendance for education and program awareness.

 1. Audience Qualifier.  Must have a minimum of 25 individuals in attendance; highlighting ASA program(s); event must align with ASA goals and programs; ASA personnel must be the focus for at least 30 minutes or 50% of the event. 

 2. $3,500 in business with ASA (within a fiscal year) per membership; must allow some form of education or program awareness.

 3. $2,000 in advertising with ASA Publication.  Must be a singular membership/account or a collaborative sale; must allow some form of education or program awareness.

 4. $500 "Buy-a-Day"; must allow some form of education or program awareness.

5. State Associations. State associations receive two free days per year for ASA attendance; must allow some form of education or program awareness; one of the two days must be commercially oriented.

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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 

 

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