ASA

  • IGS Feeder Profit Calculator
  • Non-breed specific, independent
  • Free to all IMI Global customers

CASTLE ROCK, Colo., July 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Where Food Comes From, Inc. (WFCF) (OTCQB:WFCF), the most trusted resource for independent, third-party verification of food production practices in North America, today announced that its IMI Global division has established an exclusive partnership with International Genetic Solutions (IGS) to offer the IGS Feeder Profit Calculator within its suite of verification services for beef producers.

The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator utilizes the largest and most comprehensive set of management and genetic data available in the beef industry to calculate the Relative Value of feeder calves in a one-of-a-kind, breed agnostic, independent manner. The evaluation and resulting value is based on both management and genetic criteria. The Relative Value, as indicated on a formal certificate, enables producers to benchmark their work to continuously improve management and genetic decisions in their herds. For buyers of the cattle, it provides insight into projected feedlot and carcass trait performance and overall profit potential.

“The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is the perfect addition to our suite of value-added services for our beef producers,” said Leann Saunders, President of IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From. “We have been searching for this kind of solution for years, and feel that the IGS tool is far and away the most inclusive and sophisticated calculator available in the industry today. By enabling beef producers to see the value their management and genetic decisions are providing to their operation, it enables them to have a benchmark from which they can make confident, knowledgeable choices about how to continuously improve their operations. As my dad has always said, ‘If you buy unknown genetics you never know if they are going to finish like an elephant or an ant.’ Knowledge matters, and the IGS Calculator provides producers with one more tool in their toolbox to make transparent, informed management decisions.”

The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator will be offered to all of IMI Global’s customers at no added cost to their existing verification programs.

“Deciding to establish a partnership with a company like IMI Global was an easy decision for us,” said Chip Kemp, Director of IGS Commercial and Industry Operations. “Even in today’s data-driven world, this level of genetic awareness in the commercial cattle sector is woefully inadequate. Price discovery as we know it today most often does not take into account the actual performance potential of a producer’s cattle. The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is unique in that it offers a level of genetic awareness of feeder calves that have not been previously possible in the beef business. This, combined with the progressive, market-driven programs IMI Global provides, will enable their producers to market calves with the ultimate value-added package.”

To learn more, visit http://www.internationalgeneticsolutions.com/index.php/feeder-profit-calc.

About International Genetic Solutions
International Genetic Solutions (IGS) delivers objectively described, user-friendly and science-based genetic predictions to enhance the profitability of beef cattle producers. To learn more, visit http://www.internationalgeneticsolutions.com.

About Where Food Comes From, Inc.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. is America’s trusted resource for third-party verification of food production practices. The Company supports more than 15,000 farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries, processors, retailers, distributors, trade associations, consumer brands and restaurants with a wide variety of value-added services through its IMI Global, International Certification Services, Validus Verification Services, SureHarvest, A Bee Organic and Sterling Solutions units. In addition, the Company’s Where Food Comes From® retail and restaurant labeling program utilizes the verification of product attributes to connect consumers to the sources of the food they purchase through product labeling and web-based information sharing and education. Visit www.wherefoodcomesfrom.com for additional information. 

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, based on current expectations, estimates, and projections that are subject to risk.  Forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain, and actual events could differ materially from the Company’s predictions.  Important factors that could cause actual events to vary from predictions include those discussed in our SEC filings.  Specifically, statements in this news release about industry leadership and demand for, and impact and efficacy of, the Company’s products and services on the marketplace, are forward-looking statements that are subject to a variety of factors, including availability of capital, personnel, and other resources; competition; governmental regulation of the agricultural industry; the market for beef and other commodities; and other factors. Readers should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.  The Company assumes no obligation to update its forward-looking statements to reflect new information or developments.  For a more extensive discussion of the Company’s business, please refer to the Company’s SEC filings at www.sec.gov.

Company Contacts:

John Saunders
Chief Executive Officer
303-895-3002

Jay Pfeiffer
Pfeiffer High Investor Relations, Inc.
303-880-9000

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!

Former Board Chairman Passes

Lloyd W. Powell            |             August 6, 1933 – June 18, 2018                                     

 

 Lloyd W. Powell, who served as Chairman of the ASA Board of Trustees during the 1987-88 year, passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of 84. An Oregon native, Powell experienced great success through a professional career that spanned six decades.

 He was elected to the ASA Board of Trustees in 1983 and served two three year terms. His business acumen provided valuable insight into the financial and investment aspects of the Association. His advice was sought and readily accepted by his fellow board members.

His Simmental operation, Pine Mountain Ranch, which grew to more than 400 head at its peak, was located near Bend where the Cascade Mountains meet the legendary high desert. He represented ASA as the organization’s official representative to the World Simmental Fleckvieh Federation and traveled extensively in that capacity.

In addition to his cattle operation, he was the owner of Powell Construction Company, which became one of the foremost shopping center contractors in the Pacific Northwest.

 Born in Portland, he attended the University of Oregon (UO), where he played football and ran on the track team. He maintained a continuing connection to his alma mater, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees; created several endowments; and helped finance a number of building projects. Powell Plaza, situated on the campus, is named in his honor.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon; four sons; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Staff and board members represent ASA at BIF 
 
The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual meeting held in Loveland, CO, last week was a
celebration of 50 years since a small group of innovative beef producers and researchers conceived the idea of an organization that would "connect science and industry to improve beef cattle genetics."

Initially, BIF focused on moving from selection based on visual appraisal to performance-based selection, and standardizing performance records across breeds. From that beginning, the science of beef cattle breeding and genetics has evolved through the maze of acronyms (EBV, BLUP, EPD, DNA) to the powerful genetic selection tools we have available today. A video history of BIF is available at  https://youtu.be/s37Vdu0hwtk There is an amazing parallel and symbiosis between BIF and ASA - both started in 1968 by innovative beef producers focused on the use of performance records to improve the accuracy of selection over visual appraisal. Think of the ASA motto displayed on the historic stained glass in the ASA office "Visual analysis tells you what a Simmental appears to be...performance and progeny test tell you what he actually is." 

In the parallel 50-year histories of ASA and BIF, many ASA members have provided leadership in BIF including many serving as BIF President, and many ASA members have been recognized by BIF for various awards. This year was no exception. ASA member Donnell Brown from Texas completed his term as BIF president during the convention last week, Gordon Jones, ASA member from Kentucky, was elected to the BIF board of directors, and Dr. Lauren Hyde, IGS Lead Geneticist continues her service on the BIF board. Lynn Pelton, ASA member from Kansas, was recognized for his longtime service receiving the 2018 BIF Continuing Service Award. Pelton served as BIF president in 2005.

ASA and IGS programs and staff were highlighted in a number of BIF sessions. Dr. Wade Shafer was a panel member discussing "Who Owns Your Data and Where Is It". The committee on Advancements in Selection Decisions really highlighted the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT. Steve McGuire, ASA COO, talked about "Stitching 13 Breed Association's Data Together." Dr. Bruce Golden, Theta Solutions, discussed the methods and models behind the IGS EPDs, and Dr. Lauren Hyde, IGS/ASA Geneticist, explained how the " New IGS EPDs are Really Better." The session concluded with Dr. Shafer on a panel discussing the "Trials and Tribulations of Weekly Evaluations". 

Proceedings of the BIF convention are available in printed form at https://beefimprovement.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/18_BIFProceedings.pdf.

 
Steve McGuire
Steve McGuire, "Stitching 13 Breed Associations' Data Together"
Wade Shafer participates in panel discussion on "Who Owns Your DNA?"
Chip Kemp and Leoma Wells of the ASA catch up with George Owen from the American Waygu Association
Chip Kemp and Leoma Wells of the ASA catch up with George Owen from the American Waygu Association
Tim Smith_ ASA Board Chairman and Fred Smith_ ASA Board Treasurer
Tim Smith, ASA Board Chairman and Fred Schuetze, ASA Board Treasurer
Dr. Mahdi Saatchi, IGS Lead Genomicist
"New IGS EPDs are Really Better"
Marty Ropp_ Allied Genetic Resources.  _What I Learned from Pigs_
Marty Ropp, Allied Genetic Resources.  "What I Learned from Pigs"
ASA_s Chip Kemp and Lane Giess
ASA's Chip Kemp and Lane Giess
 
BIF is well attended and provides time for international collaboration. Pictured from left to right:  David Bolduc, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, Lauren Hyde, American Simmental,  Peter Parnell and Andrew Byrne, Australian Angus, and Wade Shafer, ASA.

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".  

"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!

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.

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".  

"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!

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.

 

 
New this year!
Golf Anyone?
   

Join us for a fun-filled Fall Focus Par 3 Golf Tournament, August 25.
ASA will host a par 3 golf challenge on Saturday, August 25. Cost is $80/team or $20 for an individual. Pre-registration is required.  Funds raised will go towards American Simmental-Simbrah Foundation - Fall Focus.
Register here.                    
 
Hands-on Herdbook Tutorial
Saturday afternoon, August 25th, ASA's customer service team will hold a  Herdbook tutorial session to help members feel more confident processing data and become more efficient using Herdbook Services.  Preregistration is required.  Register here.
 
 
50th Anniversary Celebration at the ASA Headquarters
Sam Platts and the Great Plainsmen
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Join us at the ASA Headquarters on August 25th for pitchfork fondue, live music, time capsule, and celebration of ASA's 50th year.  Guests are welcome to bring a small memento to include in a time capsule - a straw of semen from your favorite bull, a registration certificate from your prize heifer, a catalog from your first bull sale, an ear tag from your favorite  cow, anything special to capture our first 50 years.    Register today!
 
 
Join us for the Educational Session
Embrace the Past, Imagine the Future.
Join us for talks about the history of the ASA and the evolution of the genetic evaluation through the years and an evening dinner and social on Sunday, August 26.
 
 
 
 
Interactive Committee Meetings/Board Meeting
August 27-29
Join the ASA Trustees to discuss critical issues in each of the five Standing committees and hear reports in various areas.
 
 
Dr. Bob Hough
ASA and Dr. Bob Hough team up for
"Simmental's American Journey"

The talented staff of the American Simmental Association Publication started layout last week of their book "Simmental's American Journey." Exciting to actually see some finished chapters. Pictured is the first imported bull Parisien with ASA's first executive secretary Donald Vaniman. The book will first be available at ASA's Fall Focus in August. It will be 8.5" by 11" that will serve as both a book to be read and as well as a coffee table book. Author Dr. Bob Hough will be signing books at the social event following the Fall Focus educational session.
 
Thank you to our sponsors
Gateway Simmental
Kenner Simmentals
Genex
Gibbs Farms
Dakota Xpress
Lehrman Family Simmentals
McDonald Farms
Miller Simmental
Lassle Ranch Simmentals
Select Sires
TNT
Mandan Lake Simmentals
AllFlex

Want to help support Fall Focus?
Please contact Bill McDonald at 540.230.6225 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Want to co-host future Fall Focus events?
State Simmental Associations wishing to host the event please submit this form.

 

Register at www.FallFocus.org

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.

 

commercial1

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. 
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