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Live Animal, Carcass and End Product Committee:

The Value of Indicator Traits

by Troy Smith, field editor, for Angus Journal®


OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 13, 2013) — Some cattle traits targeted for genetic selection are costly to measure, and some traits may be measurable only late in an animal’s life. Michael MacNeil, of Delta G, calls those significant reasons why indicator traits are valuable to genetic selection. Another reason for using indicator traits is to overcome selection bias that can occur when selection for a certain target trait also influences other traits.


During the 2013 Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention, in Oklahoma City, MacNeil told members of the Live Cattle, Carcass and End Point Committee that he calls genomics an indicator trait of considerable value.


Michael MacNeil
Michael MacNeil

“High-value indicator traits are characterized by high heritability and large genetic correlation with the target trait,” said MacNeil.


Despite the value genomics bring to genetic evaluation, MacNeil believes there remains a need for progeny testing


“I think we’re going to have to continue to get the right target traits measured in the population of inference,” MacNeil stated. “Without strong phenotypic databases, we don’t have the information to calculate EPDs with accuracy.”


All of the industry benefits, while a relative few people bear the cost, admitted MacNeil. Still, he believes it is necessary to emphasize good phenotypic measures.


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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