Updates to EPDs Discussed
The 2005 across-breed EPD table and efforts for feed efficiency EPDs discussed during BIF Genetic Predictions Committee Meeting.

BILLINGS, MONTANA (July 8, 2005) — Updates to the beef industry’s expected progeny difference (EPD) efforts were the focus of discussions during Friday’s Genetic Predictions Committee roundtable at the 2005 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual meeting.

Colorado State University’s Dorian Garrick posed the question: “What can we do to further increase profitability of beef selection? What new EPDs should be developed?”

He said the answer to that question needs to hinge on a producer’s goal, which is typically profit. Thus, he said, it makes little sense to have an EPD for feed-to-gain ratios because of their low effect on income and expense. Instead, he suggests pursuing the EPD traits that affect income, such as dry matter intake (DMI).

“We are missing a bunch of traits in EPDs. A few years ago it was reproduction, and we’ve since added several of those,” Garrick added. “Today, it is feed costs and animal health and disease. Over the next few years you can expect the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) to focus on what we need to develop for EPDs in those key areas.”

As an example, in regard to feed costs, he reported that feed intake EPDs could be computed from production EPDs. In fact, the dairy industry in New Zealand is already doing this by using milk yield and production data from a sire’s progeny.

An EPD for ratio traits is not needed, Garrick emphasized, adding, “We need EPDs for income traits and from that we can use those pieces for an economic index that includes all traits for feed efficiency.”

Dale Van Vleck with the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Neb., provided an update on the new across-breed EPD tables, which MARC has calculated for the last several years. The table allows bulls of different breeds to be compared on a common EPD scale by adding the appropriate adjustment to EPDs produced in the most recent genetic evaluations for each of the 16 breeds included.

Van Vleck pointed out some notable changes. Maine-Anjou is computing its EPDs with a new base. The result is major changes to the adjustments for Maine-Anjou weights and maternal milk. Maternal records for Brangus and Beefmaster are included in the table for the first time.

Presently, the across-breed values are only for weight traits. Van Vleck said there is some discussion about computing across-breed values for carcass traits in the coming year. He showed an example table he computed for marbling, fat thickness, ribeye area and percent retail product. The data represents 11 breeds and 400 sires. However, he said, before an across-breed EPD table for carcass traits can be pursued, some standardization procedures need to be determined among breed associations and the industry. For instance, how should carcass or ultrasound mixed data be handled? When should animals be measured? Which sexes should be included in the database?

“We do need to make more study of this before we release them,” Larry Cundiff of MARC added, “but I think we all should be encouraged by the potential result.”

— by Kindra Gordon, field editor, Angus Productions Inc.
© Copyright 2005 Angus Productions Inc.

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