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Utilizing Your Data

By Emme Troendle, Jackie Atkins, and Jannine Story          |     

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We are now in an era where science, particularly the field of genomics, is rapidly influencing the speed at which we understand an animal’s genetic potential. One DNA sample is like adding 20 to 25 progeny records to an animal’s EPDs. Genomics is a wonderful tool to improve EPD accuracy earlier in an animal’s life; however, the backbone of every genetic evaluation is still performance data (phenotypes). Without records for traits of interest, we can’t use genomics to its full potential. Looking to the future, it is vital to continue collecting and submitting performance data on your animals in addition to using genomic technology. Whole herd reporting and complete contemporary group records are the best way to get the most accurate genetic evaluation from your data. Knowing when the best time is to get data submitted and what data to submit to ASA can be difficult. We developed a timeline with data reporting windows and tips to make reporting records easy with an example of spring and fall-calving herd.

Breeding

For this scenario’s two calving windows, breeding is from May 1 to June 30 for the spring and November 15 through December 15 for the fall. 

 

Calving

In this scenario, the spring herd calves from February 7 to April 7 and the fall herd calves from August 23 to October 23. By April 15 and November 1, calving has completed and data can be reported to ASA.

  • All calving data and productivity codes should be reported together by season with birth weights, calving ease scores, and calf removal codes (if applicable). By reporting all calves together as soon as calving has finished, the contemporary groups will start as complete as possible and reporting weaning information will be easier. The genetic evaluation is run every week, making it faster for EPDs and accuracies to become current after you report data.
  • When reporting purchased embryo-transfer calves, request the parent verification DNA kit as soon as the calf is on file in Herdbook. By completing the DNA kit as soon as possible, no time delay is experienced when you apply for registration.
  • Report all udder scores on dams. Udder and teat scores don’t need to be collected annually, but the ideal time to collect these scores are within 24 hours of calving.

Weaning   

For the spring herd, calves are weaned on October 1, and for the fall, calves are weaned on April 16. Keep in mind that weaning weights should be taken on all calves at the same time, between 160 and 250 days of age. 

  • Report all weaning weights and disposition scores at one time. Don’t forget about inputting management codes and pasture units for the most accurate contemporary grouping. By submitting the weaning data as soon as possible, it ensures the EPDs and whole contemporary groups will be up to date and available in Herdbook when THE enrollment opens, to help with final herd selection decisions.
  • Use calf removal codes when submitting weaning weights. Staying up to date on calf removal codes makes THE enrollment easier because the preliminary inventory of dams will not contain culled heifers.
  • By submitting 100% of calving data (and productivity codes) before enrollment opens, the dam enrollment will be more accurate. Additionally, any cows you purchased that spring and reported a calf out of will pre-load on your inventory.
  • At this time, collect and report all your dam weights and body condition scores. Like the udder scores, these records can be collected every three years, but the ideal time to collect them is at weaning. 

Yearling   

For the spring herd, yearling weights will be collected on April 16 and for the fall herd, yearling weights will be collected on November 1. Keep in mind yearling weights should be taken on all calves at the same time, between 330 and 440 days of age. 

  • Input all your yearling data: weights and hip heights; and don’t forget to add calf removal codes to any heifers or bulls you culled after weaning or yearling time. 
  • If a yearling heifer is culled, use a removal code when submitting yearling weights. If you type an incorrect number when reporting calf data, the system will catch that the heifer is no longer in your herd. 

Note: The above dates and scenarios are meant to serve as an example. Plug in your own breeding dates to build your ideal data collection calendar. 

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