Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation for Beef Cattle
Efforts attempt to create integrated system to gather input from all segments of the industry.

Multi-breed evaluation is not new, but what we're going to do with it is, says John Pollak of Cornell University.
BILLINGS, MONTANA (July 8, 2005) — Cornell University geneticist John Pollak updated cattlemen on the multi-breed genetic analysis efforts of the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) during Friday’s session of the 2005 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual meeting in Billings, Mont.

The concept of multi-breed genetic evaluation is not new, he said. The potential for comparing the genetic merit of cattle representing different breeds has been talked about for years — even before individual breed registries provided expected progeny difference (EPD) values as tools for within-breed comparison. The talk mounted as more hybrid and composite seedstock found their way into commercial herds.

“What is new is what we’re going to be doing with it in the near future,” Pollak said.

According to Pollak, who serves as director of the NBCEC, experimentation led to the development of several preliminary models for multi-breed evaluation that also could account for the effects of heterosis. Most recently, the NBCEC has developed and begun to implement a strategy for expansion of multi-breed evaluations.

This involves development of a national pedigree file to maintain the individual identity of animals registered across several breed data sets. At present 14 breeds have agreed to participate and provide performance information to an expanded national database, providing for calculations of across-breed EPDs for economically relevant traits (ERTs). In addition to weight and carcass traits, Pollak said, plans call for inclusion of reproductive traits such as calving ease, heifer pregnancy and stayability.

“Our objective is to create an integrated system to capture data from all segments of the industry, on sire-identified animals — even from nontraditional sources, including commercial operations,” Pollak added.

— by Troy Smith, field editor, Angus Productions Inc.
© Copyright 2005 Angus Productions Inc.

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