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Live Animal, Carcass and End Product Committee:

Genetic Evaluation & Selection:
Lost Opportunities for Improving Profit

by Troy Smith, field editor, for Angus Journal®


OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 13, 2013) — There is no denying that dramatic progress in the development of tools for genetic selection have occurred, but Colorado State University geneticist Mark Enns says the beef industry can’t afford to miss additional opportunities for advancement. During the 2013 Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention in Oklahoma City, Enns spoke to the Live Animal, Carcass and End Product Committee, saying such opportunities do exist.


Mark Enns
Mark Enns

Citing examples of technology that is available now, Enns said feed utilization is measurable in the feedlot environment, and general relationships with other traits have been increasingly well-estimated. There is potential to select for animals that improve profitability in the feedlot sector.


“The technology needs to be implemented and used in a multiple-trait setting. There is potential for considerably more data collection. We need to test more cattle and get more data,” stated Enns. “Granted, we need more work on the cow side of feed utilization.”


Regarding cow fertility and longevity, Enns noted how most breed associations have whole-herd reporting systems, but aggressive use of available data often is lacking. As an example, he said improvements are needed in evaluations for cow stayability. Enns said the failure to credit cows lasting past 6 years of age is representative of a conflict of perspectives between commercial producers that value the long-producing cow and purebred breeders seeking younger cows with the “best” genetics.


According to Enns, bull fertility is rarely evaluated other than on the basis of scrotal circumference. But DNA technology is available for parentage verification in commercial producers’ multi-sire pastures. Enns noted a California study revealing the significant differences among natural service sires, regarding the number of progeny they produce, and their different impacts to ranch profitability.


“Increased pass-back of data from the commercial sector could be invaluable. We should be able to improve sharing of data between sectors,” added Enns. “Value-added programs may be a place to start.”


Return to the Newsroom for links to the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied this presentation.


Editor’s Note: This summary was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API). Through an agreement with the Beef Improvement Federation, we are encouraging reprinting of the articles to those who will adhere to the reprint guidelines available on this site. Please review those guidelines or contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270. PowerPoints are posted with permission of the presenter and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the presenter.

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