Beef Sire Selection Tools: Genomics

(Bob) So that was one of the areas that we talked about Selection Index. The other one was the use of genomics and DNA technology has moved pretty rapidly over the last couple of years. And to the extent that many producers and seed stock producers that is, are using genomics technology to add accuracy to the EPDs or the bulls and heifers that they’re producing. And this is important because if we think about the bulls that most commercial producers buy and use, our yearling bulls are unproven. They have maybe their own performance record, but certainly no calf records in the genetic evaluation, so their EPDs have low accuracy. Adding accuracy then decreases the risk of making a bad decision because we’ve improved the reliability of those predictions and in some cases pretty dramatically. Current tools from Limousin, Angus, Hereford, Simmental produce enough accuracy across the whole suite of traits to be equal to basically that bulls first calf crop measured through its complete production life. That has pretty substantial value if we think about we get carcass information or information on carcass traits equivalent to taking a yearling bull’s calves clear to slaughter. Well, that’s a time period that’s at least two or three years in the future if we were to try and do that from a performance record standpoint. If we think about cow longevity or stayability as a trait, one that is very important to us as commercial beef producers a bull doesn’t have his first daughter’s production records to six years of age, until he’s eight or nine year old, and by the time he’s a proven sire for stayability, he’s long dead and his daughters are all eight or nine years old. So, a really important trait, one that’s very difficult to measure, but the genomics tools give us a short cut in time. So, we get as much accuracy as that bull’s first set of daughters going clear through their productive lives and providing information to that genetic evaluation system. So, the genomics tools are really good for adding accuracy to our genetic prediction. They’ll continue to get better, but one thing producers should be aware of, is that as you go out and seek bulls that you’re gonna use, either to produce replacements or calves that are going on to slaughter, seeking out those that have added accuracy means decreased genetic risk to you as a producer and added value. So it’s a thing that many producers are going after and seeking out in the market place and one thing that’s important to recognize is that the way you consume that tool is just like you use EPDs and Selection Index. The breed associations incorporate that data directly into the Genetic Evaluation System so you don’t get two separate numbers for weaning weight. You get one genomically enhanced value for weaning weight. And of course, all those genomic enhanced values then feed into the Selection Indexes. So, we encourage producers to kind of develop awareness and knowledge about genomics tools. But by and large, from a selection standpoint if you already know how to use EPDs, you automatically now know how to use genomically enhanced EPDs and that’s one of the really convenient tools of the recent developments. So, more information from our Winter Ranch Management Series and more broadly our Beef Extension Program here at K-State can be found at ksubeef.org. It’s org. Or for some genetic specific information you go to ebeef.org. So, e-b-e-e-f.o-r-g has a bunch of materials recently developed by several colleagues and I in the area of beef genetics and genomics.

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