Making Her Way - Erica Kenner

ERIKA Kenner is on a mission to make Kenner Simmental a leading source of Simmental and SimAngus beef genetics in the Northern Plains. Kenner works with her parents, Roger and Jeanette, near Leeds, N.D., on a ranch founded by her grandfather, Alvin. She returned to the family business in 2007 after attending North Dakota State University and working for four years with the American Simmental Association in Bozeman, Mont. Kenner encourages other young women to consider production agriculture as a career. “Don’t be afraid to … jump in and do it,” she says.....  

Read the Dakota Farmer Magazine article here

Spotlight on GGP-LD

    Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher, Past ASA Chairman 

"Last year Gateway Simmentals tested nearly their entire bull sale group with GGP-LD. When asked why they choose to invest in GGP-LD testing, Jim Butcher responded with the following:

1. It comes with parental validation. It is really nice to sell bulls without any surprises on pedigree down the road.

2. With genomics becoming a bigger part of the genetics puzzle, it is a good thing to have our genetics represented in the system.

3. Even though we have big contemporary groups, the subtle changes in EPDs within sire groups and the overall groups is very useful."


      Dr. Bob Webber
     Dr. Bob Webber, PhD

“Using genomically enhanced EPD for selection of young breeding stock provides a level of precision and reliability that’s never been available to seedstock producers before.  By genotyping replacement heifer candidates, breeders can improve the heifers’ EPD accuracies about as much as the progeny data resulting from a female’s whole lifetime of production. The best part is you can know a replacement heifer’s estimate of genetic merit as if she’s been in production for years, all before she’s even weaned from her dam. Genotyping young bull candidates has the dual benefit of identifying those bulls that should be in the development pen and pointing to those individuals that offer truly unique and valuable genetic combinations. Your bull buyers benefit from the improved accuracy too! Using GE-EPDs with improved accuracy improves the reliability of the decisions breeders make and, ultimately, the rate of progress their selection program can achieve.”


Betsy Senter
       Betsy Senter

"The beef industry, agricultural colleges, and breed associations in particular, are investing millions into research to make our selection easier and more effective. We, as breeders and producers, must learn to "trust" the science.  We have to turn our focus from just looking at a calf (phenotype) and look deeper (genomics).  "Trust" what the science can show you and "Invest" in your own herd!  That's what GGP-LD can do for your program!



ASA was well represented at this year's convention, with both the newly elected chairman (Tracy Brunner) and chairman elect (Craig Uden) of NCBA having deep roots in SimmGenetics.  Additionally, the newly minted chairman elect of the American National Cattlewoman's Association (Penny Zimmerman) is the wife of ASA employee and long-time Simmental breeder Bill Zimmerman. 
ASA, along with several of our International Genetic Solutions (IGS) partners, set up shop in adjacent booths on a prime location, with the IGS banner prominently displayed overhead.  The unprecedented show of breed association solidarity for the benefit of the cattle industry was seen as a positive sign for the beef industry by convention attendees.  

Early Report on MARC Research

The USDA Office of Inspector General has issued a preliminary report after a New York Times article contained statements regarding animal care and mortality rates at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, NE.
A review team identified 33 statements from the article for evaluation and accuracy. The fieldwork was performed at MARC, reviewed available Agriculture research Service (ARS) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) documentation. A final report will be issued at a time to be determined.

For the past two and a half years, the American Simmental Association has been working with Dr. Jon Beever from the University of Illinois on a specific genetic condition called oculocutaneous hypopigmentation or OH. Animals with OH have uniformly light colored irises coupled with an unusual chocolate coat color. This is not a lethal condition. In fact, the effects of OH seem to be mainly cosmetic. OH is a simple recessive trait meaning an animal must inherit two copies of the mutation to display the trait.

Recently Dr. Beever has found the causative mutation and developed a diagnostic test for OH. Using this diagnostic, an archive of ~245 SimGenetic bulls were tested for OH. The incidence of this particular mutation is very low in the Simmental animals screened to date. The mutation can be traced back to an Angus bull, Sir WMS Warrant, which was likely misdiagnosed as a heterochromia irides HI carrier. Although this mutation possibly originated from the Angus breed, out of over 1,300 Angus animals tested, only one (Sir WMS Warrant) has been identified as a carrier of OH.

Due to the non-lethal nature of this condition and the low frequency of the mutation in the Simmental population, the ASA will not require any testing for the trait. The ASA will add OH to TraitTrac and OH test results will populate the pedigrees similar to other traits. This genetic trait will be treated the same as other largely cosmetic traits like coat color and horned/polled.

GeneSeek has included the marker for OH on the next generation of GGP bovine chip assays. As soon as GeneSeek launches the next GGP-HD and GGP-LD testing, ASA members will have access to these test results. Until that time, individual animals may be tested through Dr. Jonathan Beever at the University of Illinois (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 217-333-4194).

Oculocutaneous Hypopigmentation (OH)

Dr. Jon Beever, University of Illinois,
November, 2015
In the spring of 2012, the American Simmental Association (ASA) received an abnormality report indicating the occurrence of a newborn calf with "white-colored" eyes and a diluted hair coat (see picture at right). All the appropriate DNA samples were collected, used for the validation of parentage, and archived for future reference. Over the next two years, three additional calves were reported to the ASA with similar characteristics. Based on the recurrence of this trait, an investigation was initiated to establish whether the condition was genetic. DNA samples collected from the four affected calves were genotyped using the Neogen GGP-HD. The resulting genotypes were analyzed in contrast to the genotypes of ~80 Simmental sires. This analysis showed clear evidence that the condition is inherited as a recessive trait. Based on hese results, the DNA sequence for several genes was analyzed in each of the affected calves. Within one of these genes, a mutation was identified that is predicted to impair the function of the encoded protein. In fact, in mice, mutations within the same gene cause a very similar condition that is referred to as "chocolate", where black mice have a diluted coat color and beige-colored irises (or irides).

Further investigation, including the genotyping of frequently used sires, indicates the mutation is present at a relatively low frequency in the Simmental population. This is consistent with the very low frequency of affected calves reported over the three year period. Examination of carrier pedigrees reveals the Simmental bull, PVF-BF BF26 BLACK JOKER (ASA #1930631), as the most popular recent ancestor with DNA available for testing. However, several of the genotyped carriers do not have this sire in their pedigrees indicating the mutation could be significantly older. Considering this information and the prior description of similar traits in other breeds, namely heterochromia irides (HI) in Angus cattle, the possible origin of this mutation was investigated by obtaining samples from known HI carriers. Although there are very few DNA samples available from these older animals, a sample was obtained for the Angus sire SIR WMS WARRANT (AAA #9196894). Indeed, WARRANT was found to be a carrier of this newly identified mutation. Therefore, it is most likely that the mutation was introduced into the Simmental population by the use of Angus cattle during the development of black purebreds. The subsequent screening of more than 1,200 Angus sires indicates the mutation has most likely been eliminated from the current Angus population via pedigree selection in the early 1980s.

Based on these data, the scientific literature was reviewed in an effort to understand if there were documented features that clearly distinguish between the oculocutaneous hypopigmentation (OH) and heterochromia irides (HI) traits, both of which had been previously described. It is our opinion that the characteristics displayed by these affected Simmental calves is more representative of OH than it is of HI. Additionally, examination of the human and mouse literature also supports this designation. Thus, we suggest that if both phenotypes exist in the cattle population, WARRANT should be designated as an OH carrier. Further screening of current descendants of Angus HI carriers is being conducted but has not identified any additional carriers of this mutation within the Angus population.

Information contained in reports and literature from the 70s and 80s, and in these current Simmental cases, indicate that this abnormal phenotype has little or no effect on the viability or performance of affected individuals. However, in some cases, a possible sensitivity to light has been reported. Thus, we suggest this mutation be monitored similarly to other non-lethal traits such as coat color or horned/polled. As with any recessive condition, breeders can avoid the appearance of affected calves by restricting matings between carrier animals.

ASA Sale Reports

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (January 30, 2016) - The 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show wrapped up Sat., Jan 30, 2016, with the NCBA board of directors meeting. More than 6,700 attended this year's convention to engage in grassroots policy process, hear from industry experts, and attend the expansive tradeshow. Tracy Brunner, Kansas cattle producer, was officially elected to succeed Philip Ellis as NCBA president.
Brunner, a fourth-generation cattleman from Ramona, Kan., expressed optimism about the organization's momentum, saying he would continue to build on the organization's success of the prior year.
It's an honor to take the reins of NCBA for the next year," said Brunner. "We have a great organization and the strong presence of cattlemen and women gathered this week is a demonstration of several things: the interest we have in improving our businesses, our desire to have fun and fellowship, our belief in the power of dialog to move things forward and our commitment to making this an even greater industry."
Craig Uden, Elwood, Neb., was elected as NCBA president-elect, and Kevin Kester, Parkfield, Calif., is the new NCBA vice president. Steve Hanson, Elsie, Neb., was elected chairman of the NCBA Federation Division, and Jerry Effertz, Velva, North Dakota., is the new Federation vice chairman. The new NCBA Policy Division chairman is Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater, Tenn., and Joe Guild, Reno, Nev., is the new policy vice chairman.
 "The American beef industry is stronger than it has ever been," said Brunner. "We have the right people growing the right product in the right way. And, we have the right organizational culture and structure. We have promotion and advocacy; research and education. We have public policy efforts to ensure beef producers are represented in the halls of Congress and at the table as laws are made. We are committed to not only protecting and promoting the beef business of today, but even more importantly, the beef business of tomorrow. We have an exciting year ahead as international demand for American beef continues to rise and trade remains high priority. It's a great time to be in the beef business and a part of this great organization."
As president of NCBA, Brunner will lead the organization's policy work and oversee efforts undertaken as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. To learn more about the organization visit the website:








Video Presentations

 Understanding the Genetic Model  EPDs in Cowboy Language - Wade shafer



Improving Profit via Genetics - Dr. Wade Shafer




From Phenotypes to EPDs The Genetic Model - Dr. Wade Shafer



Calving Season Preparation - Dr.  Robert Bellows


Dr. Robert G. Mortimer-Calving Assistance and Strategies








Ultrasound Certification and Data Submission Requirements

Certification Requirements:  Ultrasound measurement provides an effective means to improve the accuracy of your carcass EPDs.  If you don’t submit your data to the ASA, however, it is essentially of no value for genetic evaluation and improvement.  If you spend money to ultrasound you might as well get your data collected in the manner required for submission to the ASA.

The ASA requires that all ultrasound data be collected by an Ultrasound Guidelines Council (UGC) Certified Field Technician and read by a UGC Certified Interpreter - usually a lab technician.  This can be accomplished by selecting a UGC certified field technician that submits their images to a centralized processing lab for interpretation.  The lab then forwards the results to the ASA.  The ASA also accepts data directly from technicians who are UGA certified to both scan and interpret.

UGC Certified Field Technicians
UGC Centralized Ultrasound Processing Labs
UGC website 

ASA Ultrasound Age range is from 270-500 days for both males and females.

Data Submission Requirements: Your technician will require an ASA generated list (barnsheet) of the animals you plan to have processed prior to scanning them.  Barnsheets can be obtained by logging onto your Herdbook account and clicking on the barnsheet icon (under the My Herd category).  Several options are then available to sort the animals you plan to have scanned onto your barnsheet.  When the appropriate animals to be scanned are stored, you can print a copy of the barnsheet for yourself as well as electronically submit a copy to the processing lab of your choice.  Animals must be on file with the ASA to appear on your barnsheet.

For Ultrasound Data to process accurately the following needs to be considered:

  • ASA must have weaning data on file in order to get adjusted ultrasound calculations.

  • Animals have to be contemporaries at weaning in order to be contemporaries at ultrasound.

  • Animals outside of the age range (270-500 days) for ultrasound will not get ultrasound adjustments.

  • A twin will be grouped by itself at ultrasound, same as other traits.



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