Surfing For Genetics
A new web-based decision support tool is being launched to give producers the ability for customized selection computations.

Colorado State University's Dorian Garrick presented ways in which cattlemen will be able to use Web-based tools to assist with genetic selection.
BILLINGS, MONTANA (July 8, 2005) — The National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) is developing a Web-based decision support tool for producers to utilize when making selection decisions with expected progeny differences (EPDs) and multi-breed evaluations. The site is being developed by Colorado State University (CSU) and is accessible at It presently includes 1 million bulls in the database from about eight breeds. Producers can sort between artificial insemination (AI) sires and yearling bulls.

The announcement about this new interactive tool was made at the 37th annual Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual meeting in Billings, Mont. CSU animal science professor Dorian Garrick explained the uniqueness of this Web-based tool and the fact that it allows for what he calls “customized computations.”

“We’re allowing you the power to play with the models yourself,” Garrick said. As an example, he said the Web-based decision support will allow producers to define their herd’s parameters and then see interactions between different economically relevant traits (ERTs). For instance, the model will mate a producer’s herd to the sire he or she selects and create a daughter herd with base EPDs, as well as incomes and costs.

“It will tell you the ramifications to your herd and show you predicted income and expense from that bull,” he said.

Specifically, Garrick listed six ways in which the new interactive tool will enhance selection beyond solely looking at EPDs in an electronic database:
1) interpretation of threshold traits;
2) multi-breed evaluation and crossbreeding;
3) interactions between ERTs;
4) assessment of nutritional implications;
5) assessment of financial implications; and
6) accounting for risk associated with the use of bulls with less-than-perfect accuracy.

The Web-based decision support is not just another index, Garrick said. He explains that the Web-based decision support provides justification as to why particular animals get the values they get; whereas, index selection makes decisions for you without respect to your specific production, management and economic considerations.

Garrick also reported that a feedlot module is being developed to complement the new Web-based tool and project dollar and risk values for sires. “We believe better decision support will give better decisions for profit,” he concluded.

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

Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or distributed without the express permission of Angus Productions Inc. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at (816) 383-5270 or