What is in this article?:
- EPDs help cattlemen improve herds
- Data not universal
• 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.
Data not universal
He said while adoption of EPDs has improved in recent years due to breeders’ focus on traits like calving ease and birth weight, use of the data is far from universal.
“Anything less than 100 percent is not enough,” Grimes said. “We’re seeing improvement, because people are more conscious of certain traits. Calving Ease is an example, and I think Heifer Pregnancy will evolve that way. If you can’t get heifers bred or get them calved, the other traits don’t matter.”
Grimes noted that when prices are strong, as they are currently, producers may lose some motivation to employ the most intensive management practices on the farm.
However, as data begin following cattle from calving to consumption, market forces will focus more attention on EPDs throughout the production chain.
As cattle are followed through the supply chain, he said packers are increasingly able to identify where the cattle come from, As that practice becomes more common, commercial producers likely to otherwise ignore EPD data will pay more attention to their calves genetic background to insure their cattle present a desirable carcass.
In addition to the new Heifer Pregnancy EPD, the latest sire summary marked the first time the Angus Association’s Calving Ease EPD was enhanced with genomic data.
The practice of DNA-based data into EPDs has, in theory, yielded more substantive data for producers to evaluate in genetic decisions. “The genomic data has solidified the data we already had,” Grimes explained.
“We have live data like the animal’s actual weaning weight, then we add his progeny data, and now we have his genomic data, too. It’s another piece of the puzzle.”
Grimes’ hope is that more cattlemen will use data in efforts to improve their production and profitability. He said the tools are available from the major breeds, noting that the Simmental and Hereford Associations, among others, provide considerable information on an animal’s genetic merit and potential.
“Information is power. The more you know about your cattle, the better. The more information a breeder has, the easier it is to sell cattle.”