Better data yields better decision-making in genetic selection, according to Ohio State University Extension beef coordinator John Grimes.

A new EPD from the American Angus Association and improvements in DNA technologies mean even better data for beef producers.

Expected Progeny Difference, or EPD, is a statistical estimate of how a given animal compares to its breed’s average for a wide variety of production traits.

“We have this whole catalog of EPDs,” Grimes said. “In the past we concentrated on growth, carcass, and maternal traits. The trait we need to improve now, as far as profitability for cattle breeders, is fertility.”

A new EPD reported by the American Angus Association aims to help in that regard. Heifer Pregnancy, designated HP on pedigrees and the breed’s sire summaries, is essentially a predictor of a bull’s daughters’ pregnancy rates.

“In other words, if you compare two bulls and one has a 5 percent advantage in Heifer Pregnancy, that means an additional five heifers pregnant per 100 heifers bred,” Grimes explained. “In this economy, that could be a significant improvement.”

While the industry provides producers with more data as understanding of genetic improvement improves, Grimes said more producers should employ data-driven genetic selection on their farms.