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UGC Update

by Troy Smith, field editor

LOVELAND, Colo., June 21, 2018 — The purpose of the Ultrasound Guidelines Council (UGC) is to ensure the quality of ultrasound data used by the beef industry for the genetic evaluation of carcass traits. UGC is responsible for the certification of the various combinations of ultrasound equipment and software (systems) used to collect and interpret ultrasound images. Additionally, UGC certifies the technicians charged with collection and interpretation.

Reports on UGC certification activities were presented during the 2018 Beef Improvement Federation Convention, hosted June 20-23 in Loveland, Colo. Making presentations to BIF’s End Product Improvement Subcommittee were J.R. Tait of Neogen GeneSeek and Patrick Wall of The CUP Lab LLC.

J.R. Tait of Neogen GeneSeek.

Tait, who chairs the UGC Systems Review Committee, explained how new system technologies are evaluated by scanning a minimum of 70 animals. Results are compared to chemically extracted fat data. For an added reference, a different and previously approved system is used to scan the same animals. According to Tait, the committee approved four new ultrasound machines representative of the trend toward smaller size and increased portability. Additional multiple hardware components and software packages were approved.

Patrick Wall of The CUP Lab LLC.

Patrick Wall, who serves as UGC’s new executive director, explained that to receive UGC field certification, ultrasound technicians must pass proficiency testing, including a written exam, and the collection of ultrasound images of the rump, rib and intramuscular fat. Twenty animals, varying in age, gender and condition are scanned. Breeding cattle as well as harvest cattle are represented. A technician must scan the same group of animals twice, in two separate sessions, to demonstrate the ability to collect good-quality images that are easy to interpret in the lab.

According to Wall, lab technicians typically must be proficient with more than one type of system and are tested accordingly.

“Carcass ultrasound is the most highly vetted set of raw data submitted for use in genetic evaluation, and the only set submitted by an unbiased third-party source,” said Wall, adding that the technology used to collect ultrasound images “is getting faster, more accurate and cheaper."

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