Left side

Stitching Data Together from 13 Breed Associations

Simmental COO shares challenges of conducting multi-breed evaluation.

by Lindsay King, assistant editor, Angus Journal

LOVELAND, Colo., June 21, 2018 — Meshing seemingly similar data together is a painless process in theory. However, when getting to the nitty gritty of it all, the situation takes a complex turn for the worst quickly. Steve McGuire, the chief operating officer of the American Simmental Association, outlined the pitfalls of putting data from 13 breed associations together.

“The biggest issues pertain to breed codes. BIF (Beef Improvement Federation) has identified a certain number of breeds, but there are some 30 to 40 others floating around in other databases without standard codes to find them,” McGuire said. “The other issue with combining data are the multiple birth codes. Some breeders still don’t use the same ones.”

The best way to find issues within a system is to fill it with field data, which is exactly what this information is. Some extreme examples McGuire presented included twins born several days apart and twins born at the same time with different sires.

“Contemporary groups are the primary units used to find genetic differences. They are usually to blame for unexplained changes when no new data comes in for a bull, yet his information has changed,” McGuire said. “Another big issue is making sure every member of IGS (International Genetic Solutions) understands how contemporary groups are formed so when they submit their data it goes where they want it to.”

With 17 million animals in the combined database and that number growing by 350,000 annually, the urgency for standardized identification increases exponentially. The international animal ID system appears to be a surefire way to keep animals straight in the system and matched up with their correct data.

“Some of the sires and dams have two different ID numbers in multiple data sets,” McGuire said. “Then we have to go through and merge those records. We had one animal with 13 different international IDs and three of those were from the same association."

When information comes in from breeders, the expectation is that it is all correct, especially the IDs. It is hard to match those animals up with multiple IDs, especially when cross-referencing. The automated system is an answered prayer when it comes to these issues.

“Through this automated system we can watch the whole process while getting notifications through emails once each step is completed,” McGuire said. “The biggest difference is that we are not starting and stopping the process, it takes care of itself.”

Every Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., the system extracts pedigrees, performance files and all other supporting documents to begin the evaluation. Once the process is complete, the expected progeny differences (EPDs) are uploaded online for individual associations to download.

“The real advantage for these frequent evaluations comes from reducing the pressure of getting the data exactly correct. When they were done every six months, that meant you only had one shot to get them right,” McGuire added. “Now, anything that is wrong can get fixed in the next evaluation a week later, and there is immediate feedback. It takes care of itself much better than the long-term evaluations.”

McGuire has spent many weekends and holidays fixing data that now the system will do for him.

“What I do is not rocket science; it is fun,” McGuire said. “With this new system, there is no human intervention. It goes by itself. Only human monitoring, eliminating human error for the most part.”

Editor’s Note: The articles used within this site represent a mixture of copyrights. If you would like to reprint or repost an article, you must first request permission of Angus Media by contacting the editor at 816-383-5200; 3201 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, MO 64506. Angus Media claims copyright to this web site as presented. We welcome educational venues and cattlemen to link to this site as a service to their audience.

BIF Conference

An Angus Media site
Meeting coverage brought to you by the communications team
at Angus Media.

Click here to visit www.Angus.Media

Other Angus Media
event sites …

Sign up for…

Right side