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Performance Article Series: Part 7 Using EPDs

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

As discussed in the previous article EPDs are Expected Progeny Differences, and the calculation of EPDs was discussed. In order to effectively use EPDs as a tool you must understand how to use them correctly, you wouldn’t use a screw driver instead of a hammer to put in a nail. EPDs are to be used as a tool to compare animals to each other or to compare against an average. EPDs are an estimate, based on pedigree and performance, of how an animal’s progeny should perform on average when compared to the progeny of another animal or against a breed average. They offer a quick and efficient way to compare how an animal’s progeny should perform because of genetics. They are not the only tool that you need to use in cattle evaluation, but they [...]

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Performance Article Series: Part 6 EPDs

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

The past articles in this series have all been leading up to this, a basic overview of Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs): what they are and how they are calculated. EPDs are designed to be used to show differences in the genetic potential of an animal when compared to another animal or to an average. EPD calculations take into account an animal’s individual performance, the performance of related animals and the estimated relatedness of animals. The environment is factored out of an EPD because of the manner in which they are calculated. The calculation of EPDs is based on C.R. Henderson’s Mixed Model Equations, which utilize a method called Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP). The key word in BLUP is unbiased, an EPD is an unbiased prediction based on the information that is used in the genetic evaluation.

The first part of [...]

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Performance Article Series: Part 5 Contemporary Groups

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

Starting with this article I will discuss the other factors that go into the calculation of EPDs, other than the measured traits that have been mentioned previously. These factors are what allow us to take out environment and estimate relatedness, in order to calculate EPDs. The first factor that I will discuss is contemporary groups, and basically a contemporary group are animals of approximately the same age and sex that have been managed the same. By properly forming contemporary groups the environmental effects can be taken out in the calculation of EPDs. In the calculation of EPDs the difference of the measured trait against contemporaries is what is important. For example, if there is a 50 pound difference between weaning weights of two animals it does not matter if the weights are 550 pounds and 600 pounds, or 750 [...]

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Performance Article Series: Part 4 Ultrasound Carcass Data

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

The end goal of the cattle industry is to produce beef to feed a growing population.  At harvest there are many measurements that are taken to determine the value of a carcass.  Some of these traits are; rib eye area, marbling and fat thickness.  These traits are all higher in their heritability (0.4-0.6) than many of the other weight and production traits that are measured (0.1-0.4).  This means that you can make fairly rapid genetic progress for carcass traits.  However, it is hard to measure carcass traits without harvesting an animal, so we use ultrasound to estimate REA, intramuscular fat (IMF), as well as rib and rump fat.  The ultrasound will have to be done by a certified ultrasound technician and should be done between 320 and 550 days of age for the data to be included in the genetic [...]

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Performance Article Series: Part 3 Other Traits Measured at Birth and Weaning

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

There are several other traits that are measured either at the time of birth or when calves are weaned. These include a calving ease score and udder scores at birth, then mature cow weight at weaning. These traits are important for the survival of the calf, the longevity of the cow and the efficiency of the cow. A live calf every year is the goal of most producers and having low maintenance cattle that are able to produce calves for many years are very valuable. By measuring these traits there is information provided for calculating both direct and maternal calving ease, as well as the development of new EPDs for udder scores and mature cow weights. These are all traits that are important for maternal ability and can possibly be incorporated into the calculation of $M index.

Calving ease is an [...]

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Performance Article Series: Part 2 Weight Traits

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

The traits of birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight are all economically important to cattlemen. Birth weight is one of the leading causes of dystocia in cattle and can cause the loss of cow and/or calf. This leads many cow-calf producers to look for bulls with low birth weights. The majority of calves in the United States are also sold at weaning and are sold by the pound, so weaning heavy weaning weights are important to these producers. Other producers will retain ownership of calves through the feed yard and yearling weight can be an indicator of how well they will perform there. By measuring these weights on your cattle and recording the weights with the BBU registry system, you provide more information for the calculation of EPDs.

Birth weights are the first weights that should be recorded and should [...]

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Performance Data, EPDs & Indices: Part 1

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

Since the domestication of animals, humans have been on a quest to improve animals for specific purposes. For example, breeding dogs for hunting or working livestock, as well as developing oxen for work or food. Different methods of improvement have evolved over time with improvements in the areas of science and technology.

Initially animal selection was made based solely on phenotype or visual evaluation. For work purposes, the larger more fit animals were selected and for milk purposes the animals who looked to produce the most milk were selected. This visual evaluation is still a part of the selection process today, but many other tools have been developed to provide more information to the breeder.

Pedigrees were used by people once they realized that animals tended to resemble their parents and other relatives. People selected certain sire and dam combinations to improve [...]

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