Customizing Bull Selection
UNL’s Matt Spangler provides overview of iGENDEC.
DES MOINES, IOWA (June 24, 2021) — iGENDEC is a new tool on the market that has enabled cattlemen to make selection decisions. Matt Spangler from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln provided an overview of the program at the 2021 Beef Improvement (BIF) Research Symposium & Convention hosted June 22-25 in Des Moines, Iowa.
iGENDEC, which stands for internet genetic decisions, gives a producer the option to create unique selection indexes for making more economical decisions for an individual herd.
“Economic selection indexes should be designed to select for increased commercial-level profit,” Spangler said.
Many partial solutions exist to enable informed selection decisions, but combing them can be complex. We also noted that improved rates of adoption of indexes and rates of improvement in net profit could be achieved by engaging the bull buyers in the process of index construction,” said Matt Spangler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
These specific selection indexes are not generally used as a tool for breed direction, since there are several restrictions involved. A good selection index is based on breeding objectives, economic parameters, relationships among traits and population means.
The need for specific selection indexes arises from the issues created by generalized indexes.
“The primary shortcoming is assumptions around phenotypic performance and breeding systems,” Spangler said. “If economic parameters capture a cattle cycle, these are generally robust in ranking animals; however, unique situations do exist.”
While iGENDEC is new to the market, the idea of it is not. Spangler said it took his team two tries to have a successful USDA grant. The rationale behind the technology was simple.
“Many partial solutions exist to enable informed selection decisions, but combing them can be complex,” Spangler said. “We also noted that improved rates of adoption of indexes and rates of improvement in net profit could be achieved by engaging the bull buyers in the process of index construction.”
The purpose of iGENDEC is to enable the construction of economically rational selection indexes based on unique situations of commercial enterprises. Some examples of these situations include breeding objectives, breed composition of cows and calves, current phenotypic performance, length of planning horizon, input/output economic parameters.
The selection tool has features that enhance the producer’s power in the decision-making process. It has a tiered layer of input, which is essentially a generalized index using default values. The producer also can change costs, returns and phenotypic means.
A few other features are a discounted gene flow, discounted expression rates and a planning horizon. iGENDEC can also be used to create generalized indexes with the ability of further tweaking by members/users.
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