Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Crossbreeding Considerations

Simplicity, management key to successful program 


Story by Lisa Henderson
Reprinted from Cattlemen' s News.


Fewer open cows, less death loss, more growth, more milk and more efficiency. Those are the significant economic advantages crossbreeding can offer your cattle operation.

“A crossbred cow is 25 percent more productive over her lifetime compared with a straight-bred commercial cow,” says University of Missouri animal scientist Jared Decker. “Not only do we see increased growth performance out of crossbred cattle, but we see significant impacts on fertility and reproduction.”

Decker adds bluntly, “All commercial operations should consider using crossbreeding.”

While the popularity of breeds can rise and fall over time, crossbreeding remains an advantageous practice for commercial herds.

Heterosis, or hybrid vigor, and breed complementarity are the primary benefits realized from a properly planned crossbreeding program. Heterosis is the increase in performance or function above what is expected based on the parents of the offspring.
Through crossbreeding, beef producers can also take advantage of breed complementarity.

“With breed complementarity, the strengths of one breed are matched to the weaknesses of another and vice versa,” Decker says. “Or, the optimum in the middle is achieved by using one breed with a high level and another breed with a low level.”

Clay Mathias of the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management at Texas A&M University, says crossbreeding is always a high leverage choice. “The choice of which breeds to use is basically free. However, the returns of a crossbreeding program are substantial. Crossbreeding improves fertility, age at weaning, weaning weight and longevity.”

Before implementing a crossbreeding program, however, animal scientists suggest you should:

  • Define your current situation in relation to markets, breeds, nutrition, environment and management.
  • Define what market, or markets, you are aiming for and determine breeding objectives.
  • Define the management and nutrition levels it is possible to achieve in your environment.
  • Decide which breed types will perform best in relation to your desired production traits.



One of the important considerations in a crossbreeding program is consistency, Decker says. “The ‘breed of the month’ club memberships have been revoked long ago. A crossbreeding system should use a small number of breeds (two or three), and should use the same breeds year after year.”

As an example, Decker says, “I marvel when I drive by a corn field how consistent the plants are. Yet, every plant in that field is a hybrid. Beef producers need to aim for this same level of consistency in their crossbreeding programs.”

The success of a crossbreeding program will depend on its simplicity and ease of management, according to animal scientists. Several factors and challenges need to be considered when evaluating choice of crossbreeding system, including:

1) Number of cows in the herd
2) Number of available breeding pastures
3) Labor and management
4) Amount and quality of feed available
5) Production and marketing system
6) Availability of high-quality bulls of the various breeds

Various research studies show the design of any crossbreeding program should take advantage of both heterosis and breed complementarity. An ideal crossbreeding program should 1) optimize, but not necessarily maximize, heterosis in both the calf crop and particularly the cow herd, 2) use breeds and genetics that fit the feed resources, management and marketing system of the operation, and 3) be easy to apply and manage.

“An often overlooked system for crossbreeding is to buy females in place of developing replacements from your own herd,” Decker says. “And, a producer could purchase a maternally oriented crossbred female, and then those crossbreed females would be bred to a terminal sire with 100 percent of the resulting calf crop marketed for beef.”

Again, however, Decker emphasizes that producers should evaluate their marketing endpoint and marketing system before launching a crossbreeding program.

“The choice of breeds needs to match the marketing goals,” he says.

Crossbreeding doesn’t necessarily mean you will sacrifice some traits for others. For instance, Decker says, “I have received reports of producers achieving 70 percent of their calf crop grading Prime while using a three-breed crossbreeding program.”

While such testimonials support crossbreeding, Decker admits that color might affect prices for calves at some auctions.

“If calves resulting from crossbreeding are not black, producers may need to be more strategic about marketing their cattle,” he says. “However, several programs are now in place to market crossbreed calves, such as the Red Angus Association of America’s Feeder Calf Certification Program or the American Hereford Association’s Hereford Advantage program.”

The Red Angus Feeder Calf Certification Program (FCCP) is a USDA Verified Genetic, Source and Age Program. The FCCP builds a reputation through source verification to the ranch of origin and, coupled with group age verification, provides producers with access to export market premiums.

The Hereford Advantage program on the other hand uses top-ranking Hereford bulls mated to British-cross cows with a focus on gain and end product merit.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Link Round Up, May 4th, 2018

Red Angus Association of America announces release of Dry Matter Intake (DMI) and Average Daily Gain (ADG) EPDs.
https://www.progressivecattle.com/news/industry-news/8383-red-angus-association-releases-two-new-epds-aimed-at-increasing-efficiency

Why not release a RFI EPD? The animals ranking for feed efficiency changes based on how we express the trait. http://blog.steakgenomics.org/2014/08/improving-feed-efficiency-feed.html The best way to account for the cost of additional feed intake is through an economic selection index in which we balance both growth and intake.


"Five Reasons to DNA Test Your Cows"
https://hereford.org/2018/05/five-reasons-to-dna-test-your-cows/
Head over to the American Hereford Association website to learn more about DNA testing your cowherd.

Speaking of DNA testing cows...

Leoma Wells provided an update on the American Simmental Association's Cow Herd Roundup (CHR) on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/AmericanSimmentalAssociation/videos/10160437412475066/


Did I miss important beef genetics and genomics news? Send me a message on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Recruiting Summer and Fall 2018 Loewenberg Interns

We are currently recruiting students to join the Loewenberg Internship program. Download the application here: https://missouri.box.com/v/LoewenbergApp.

The Loewenberg Beef Cattle Management Internship is an opportunity born from the generous gift of Mr. Bruce Loewenberg. Mr. Loewenberg donated his herd of Salers cows to be used for research and teaching purposes in the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri. The intent of this internship is to give a select group of motivated students the opportunity to manage and make business decisions on a herd of Fall and Spring calving cows. Decision‐making for this herd will be a team oriented effort by the four to six students selected for each internship session. The vast majority of labor will be provided by the internship students. This includes, but is not limited to, moving wire during rotational grazing, working cattle for herd health, setting up cows and heifers for AI breeding, and other common practices in the business of cow‐calf operations in the Midwestern United States. Students will be advised by a committee from the Division of Animal Sciences and Mr. Loewenberg. Preference will be given to students with strong organizational skills, willingness to work through complex business decision‐making, a commitment to a team management model, and those with some large animal handling experience.

Hard copy or email applications will be accepted. Applications and a current resume can be returned to Cinda Hudlow in S102 ASRC or via email at hudlowl@missouri.edu. Please direct questions to Dr. Jared Decker via email DeckerJE@missouri.edu.


Internship requirements and preferences

  • Four to six students per academic session
  • Open to any CAFNR undergraduate student
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 at commencement of internship
  • Two consecutive academic sessions required
  • Preference to students with Junior or Senior standing


Internship sessions

  • Fall September 26 ‐ December 31, 2018
  • Spring January 1 – May 15, 2019
  • Summer May 16 – August 15, 2019


Important Application and Selection Dates

  • Applications due on or before May 4, 2018
  • Interviews will be scheduled for the week of May 7-11, 2018.


Monday, April 16, 2018

April 19 Webinar by Genetics Experts to Give Cattlemen Guidance on Creating the Best Herd

Fourth, final webinar in series focuses on bull selection

DENVER, CO (April 12, 2018) – This year’s edition of the NCBA Cattlemen’s Genetics Webinar Series comes to a close April 19, with a special presentation that puts a focus on honing bull selection.  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association teamed up with six genetics specialists from across the country to offer this series, which kicked off Jan. 18.

The Genetics Webinar Series was designed for producers who would benefit from genetics knowledge, from the experienced seedstock breeder to someone who might be new to the cattle industry and needs to better understand genetics. It is being coordinated by the NCBA producer education team. Earlier webinars were “The 4 S’s of Crossbreeding: Simple, Structured, Successful and Sustainable,” “Show Me the Money! Are there EPDs for Profit?”, and “Fake News: EPDs Don’t Work.” These webinars can be accessed at www.NCBA.org under the Producer Education tab.

Titled “Putting the Tools to Use: Buying Your Next Bull,” the April 19 webinar puts the genetic concepts covered in the first three seminars to work, as attendees will go to a virtual bull sale and select the best bull from a sale catalog for two distinct production scenarios. The webinar begins at 7 p.m. CDT.

Leading discussion on the topic at the webinar will be Matt Spangler, Ph.D., associate professor and extension beef genetics specialist at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Bob Weaber, Ph.D., professor and beef extension specialist at Kansas State University. Joining in the discussion will be other members of the eBEEF team, a group of six genetic specialists from five academic institutions who have invested time and resources in the advancement of the cattle industry through genetics.

According to Josh White, NCBA executive director of producer education, the genetics webinar series has been an effective extension of NCBA educational webinars, which was started several years ago. “Some of the largest participations in our webinars have been for genetics topics in the spring,” said White. “This 2018 partnership with the eBEEF team has been a terrific addition to the education we can provide.”

Cattle producers are invited to join the webinar live, although “homework” for the seminar – available at www.NCBA.org – is advised. The homework includes the eBEEF bull sale catalog and the eBEEF bull selection scenario.

For more information, go to the Producer Education tab of the NCBA.org website.
###

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has represented America's cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy.  As the largest association of cattle producers, NCBA works to create new markets and increase demand for beef.  Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or membership@beef.org.

Questions?
Contact Producer Education at producered@beef.org
 







Friday, March 23, 2018

Cattle Raisers Convention 2018: Breed Characteristics, An Overview

Robert Wells, Noble Research Institute

What breeds should you consider?
Types
Heterosis
Complementarity effects


There are two species of cattle:
Bos taurus
British breeds (Angus, Hereford)
Continental breeds (Charolais, Simmental, Limousin, Gelbvieh, etc.)

Bos indicus (Zebu, humped cattle)
Brahman
Nelore
Gir


Angus (British)
Reputation is carcass and maternal. Also has a reputation for growth.
"They wanted to be everything to everybody," he said. The problem with this is the increased mature size in these growthier Angus cattle.

Red Angus
Reputation for carcass and maternal. Before the 1950s, all Angus were Angus, regardless of coat color. The Red Angus breed has not chased growth as much as black Angus.

Hereford (British)
Reputation for maternal, easy fleshing, and longevity. Hereford don't typically have a lot of maintenance requirements.

Shorthorn (British)
Reputation as maternal and carcass. Shorthorn was previously a dual purpose breed of meat and milk. This is why Shorthorns have been used in a lot of composites such as Santa Gertrudis.

Simmental (Continental)
Reputation for maternal and growth.

Gelbvieh 
Maternal and growth

Limousin
Reputation for growth and lean tissue. Great for yield grade.

Charolais
Reputation for growth, but they also do a decent job on quality grade.

American Brahman (Bos indicus, composite of several breeds from India)
Maternal, lean, hardiness, insect, disease and heat tolerance.

Longhorns
Reputation for hardiness and lean beef. Horns are a by-product that can marketed to hang in steak houses.

Corriente
Reputation for hardiness and roping stock. Once referred to as a goat in a beef cattle hide. Often used for calving ease, but their are probably better options to get calving ease without the discounts for Corriente cattle.

Waygu
Marbling

Akaushi
Larger framed than Waygu. Known for marbling and fertility.

There are more breeds out there can you can imagine.

Composites
Santa Gertrudis
Mix of Brahman and Shorthorn. Has to fit breed type to be registered.

Beefmaster
Maternal heterosis and growth. Longevity, fertility and efficiency. Can be any color.

Brangus
Carcass, Growth, Maternal and Heat Tolerance.

Balancer
Gelvieh and Angus hybrid

LimFlex
Limousin and Angus hybrid

Simbrah
Simmental and Brahman hybrid

Black Baldy
Hereford and Angus hybrid. Great longevity and maternal.

F1 Tiger Stripe
Hereford and Brahman hybrid.

Super Baldy
F1 Tiger Stripe with Angus influence.

Commercial Angus

Ultrablack
Brangus and Angus cross. Less Brahman influence than Brangus.

Crossbreeding
Crossbreeding leads to increased hybrid vigor, also known as heterosis.
Crossbreeding can lead to a lack of uniformity. We have now gone towards a straight breeding program. Straightbreeding has lead to increase consumer acceptance and carcass quality, but we have also lost some fertility and stress tolerance.

Maximum heterosis is achieved by an F1 x F1 cross. This has grandparent from 4 unrelated breeds. However, this may decease uniformity, especially in multiple bull herds.

Maternal hybrid vigor increases calving rate (6%), weaning rate (8%), weaning weight (6%), and a negligible 2% increase in birth weight.
Cow lifetime productivity is increased by 25% due to heterosis.

Keep in mind that some crossbred cows are larger than their straightbreed counterparts. May need to adjust stocking rates appropriately.

Original Scenario:
100 cows, Cow Breed A x Bull breed A
525 lb weaned calf
Average weaniing rate 82%
43,050 lbs marketed

Switch to:
Cow Breed A x Bull Breed B
Individual heterosis (+5%)
~551 lb weaning weight F1 calf
45,203 lbs marketed
+2,152 lbs/year = +$5,725.65/year

Switch to:
F1 cow x Terminal bull breed C
+WW total heterosis + 25%
656 lb calf (+131 lbs)
59,040 lbs marketed
+15,990 lbs = +$40,295

"What is that ideal cow? I don't care what color she is," Wells said. The cow needs to fit our environment and our resources.
Early puberty
Never misses a breeding season (1 calf/365 days)
Calves unassisted
Doesn't require a lot of supplemental feed
Easy fleshing
Converts forage to lbs of raised calf

Must be able to manage for the benefits.
Heterosis will not make up for poor animal husbandry/management.
Heterosis will not make up for poor bull selection.

*Note, this post was live blogged and may contain mistakes.

Cattle Raisers Convention 2018: Bull Selection Panel

Moderator:
Tommy Perkins, International Brangus Breeders Association
Panelists: 
Kelley Sullivan, Santa Rosa Ranch
Donnell Brown, RA Brown Ranch

What DNA tests do you require when you buy a bull? Parentage? Genetic Defects? Polled? Coat Color?
What trait is most important in bull selection?
Does genomic testing provide value?

Donnell Brown currently markets 4 different breeds (Angus, Red Angus, SimAngus and a 4-breed composite called Hotlander). Brown has been involved with 17 different breeds. They DNA parentage test every animal born on their place. Five to ten percent of animals have the wrong parentage assigned. Cows swap calves. The wrong straw gets pulled out of the tank. A bull comes over from two pastures over and then goes home before we ever knew he was out. Would we prefer to use a bull with one calf crop or a bull with no calves? Most producers prefer the bull with more data. Genomic-enhanced EPDs provide the same amount of information as the first calf crop out of a bull. Donnell said for seedstock producers it is more important to DNA test females, because that gives us more information on her genetic merit than her lifetime worth of progeny data.

"Just because a bull has EPDs doesn't mean he is good." Brown said. The EPDs simply reflect how the bull compares to other bulls.

Brown has never printed actual performance data in a bull catalog. No actual birth weight, no actual or adjusted weaning weight, etc. The EPDs provide much more information.

Truck manufactures report the estimated highway and city miles per gallon. These numbers aren't always exact, but they provide a great estimate to compare different trucks. EPDs are the same for comparing bulls.

Donnell Brown has been using selection indexes for 25 years.

Kelley Sullivan states that Santa Rosa Ranch is now the largest Brangus and Ultrablack breeder in the United States. Ultrablack cattle has allowed Brangus breeders to expand bull selling into new markets. The higher percentage of Angus allows them to sell into Nebraska, Missouri, etc. This
"If you are not successful, we are not successful" Sullivan says. We need to meet our customers need and produce beef for our consumers.

Before you buy a bull, you need to identify herd goals. What are you looking to do?
What are your selection priorities? You need to use the selection tools (indexes, EPDs, genomics). "Unless we know what we have, we can't sell it to you," Sullivan says.
If a bull can't move and a bull can't walk, you can't use him. He won't be able to do what he is supposed to do. Bulls need to be structural sound. You need to look at the bull, or have someone trusted look at him.

You need to find a reputable source of genetics (breeding stock). Santa Rosa Ranch stands behind every bull they sell. Do your homework. Is the seedstock producer doing what they say they are doing.

You need to make a sound investment. They price their bulls at 5 times the current prices of the calf market. Some bulls are priced higher if they have potential to go into a seedstock herd. Don't look for the cheapest bull out there.

Concentrate on factors that have the greatest effect on profitability. Performance is a function of both genetics and management. Don't single trait select.

You're investing in their program and, if they are reputable, they are investing in your program as well.

You must require a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE) be performed before you take ownership of the bull.

What development ration has been fed? Is he fat? If he is fat, he is going to lose a lot of that condition when he is out breeding cows.

Disposition and docility is sometimes over looked. You don't want the problems associated with bad dispositions.

"One of the goals of our program is moderating mature frame size," Sullivan said. "We need her to breed back and have a calf every year."

Donnell prints only the most valuable information in the bull sale catalog. Brown's number 1 trait is $Profit. Everything that effects your profitability goes into that index. Percentile ranks helps producers better understand EPDs. If you can count from 1 to 100, you can understand percentile ranks. Is this bull average? In other words, 50th percentile. Is the bull in the top 5%? Is the bull in the 95th percentile?

Maternal is so much more than milk. Is the cow going to have a calf year after year?

"I measure as many things as I can measure," Brown said.

"I like selling 18 month old bulls. I like having a man to do a man's job, rather than asking a boy (yearling bull) to do the job."

"A bull you bought last year will effect your herd till 2034. A bull you bought is an investment in your herd," Brown said. If you buy an old junker, clunker pick up, you get the performance of a junky pickup. The same thing happens with regards to the bull you buy.

*Note, this post was live blogged and may contain errors.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Angus Genetics Inc Releases Foot Score Research EPDs

In January, Angus Genetics, Inc. (AGI) announced the release of research Claw Set and Foot Angle EPDs. The development of a research EPD is the second step towards a production EPD.

This followed research presented in the summer of 2017 which found heritabilities of 0.34 for foot angle and 0.21 for claw set. Estimating heritability (portion of the trait influenced by genetics) is the first step towards a production EPD. This research also found a genetic correlation of 0.22 between the two traits, indicating that both traits need to be reported and analyzed.

Stephen Miller, AGI Director of Genetic Research stated, "“Angus breeders have completed a tremendous amount of data reporting in such a short period of time; this is truly a testament to their commitment toward genetic progress. We are absolutely thrilled to begin the process of rolling this breakthrough out to the membership.”

Kelli Retallick, AGI Director of Genetic Services cautioned, “Though we are getting closer to a production EPD, we encourage members to continue sending in data. Consistency of scoring within a producer’s herd is key, and luckily, we have a variety of resources here at the Association to help.”

Between herd variation, just like any other trait, is handled through the use of contemporary group effects in the EPD analysis. Thus, the main focus is consistency within a herd year after year. The American Angus Association also has partnerships with university judging teams to aid in foot scoring.

Figure 1. Genetic trend for Claw Set EPD in highly accurate Angus sires. Blue line is a linear trend. Red line is a smoothing curve (Loess regression).
 As seen in Figure 1, claw set has basically remained unchanged in Angus cattle since 1985. This may be due to the lower heritability of claw set or less phenotypic selection on claw set. An EPD should help improve the rate of genetic progress for claw set.

Figure 2. Genetic trend for Foot Angle EPD in high accuracy Angus sires. Connealy Counselor, an outlier with a Foot Angle EPD of 1.20 was excluded from this graph. Blue line is a linear trend. Red line is a smoothing curve (Loess regression).
If we compare the 30 years from 1985 to 2015, Foot Angle has also not changed in Angus cattle. However, we see foot angle getting worse from 2003 to 2008, at a rate of 0.013 units per year. However, we see improvement in foot angle from 2009 to 2015 at a rate of -0.016 units per year. This may be due to the ease of phenotypic selection for foot angle or the increased response to selection due to the higher heritability for foot angle.

Recording, Reporting, and Analysis of Subjective Scores

The American Hereford Association uses subjective scores to report Udder and Teat EPDs. They began publishing production EPDs for these traits in 2015. The genetic trend for both of these traits began to improve more rapidly in 2010 likely due to systematic recording and reporting of udder and teat scores in 2009 (Figure 3). These results show how important data collection and reporting are for genetic improvement. Further, this illustrates that subjective scores, when properly analyzed and used, can effectively improve economically important traits.
Figure 3. Genetic trends for Udder (red line) and Teat (blue line) in the American Hereford Association.

Work by Other Breed Associations

The press release pointed out that these were the first foot score EPDs in the U.S. beef industry. Angus made this distinction because the dairy industry has been reporting structure genetic predictions for quite some time. The Australian Angus Association has structural soundness genetic predictions for Front Feet Angle, Front Feet Claw Set, Rear Feet Angle, Rear Leg Hind View and Rear Leg Side View.

Breed associations in the U.S. are also working towards structure EPDs.

Tommy Perkins, International Brangus Breeders Association, explained at the 2017 Texas Beef Cattle Short Course several subjective scoring systems Brangus breeders are using to record and report data. These include a 1 to 5 scale for foot angle and claw set.

Bob Weaber, Kansas State University, provided an update on structural soundness research being conducted at KSU in collaboration with the Red Angus Association of America.

Solutions

Commercial cattle farmers and ranchers can utilize crossbreeding to complement the strengths and weaknesses of different breeds. Seedstock producers and commercial operations that straightbreed need to look for avenues of genetic improvement. This frequently requires the recording and reporting of data to produce EPDs that increase genetic improvement. At the very least, this requires systematic recording of these traits to increase attention to their impacts and expression.

Take Home Messages

Beef producers, especially seedstock producers, should learn at least two lessons from these developments.

  1. Record and Report data that affect you customers' success
  2. Subjective scores, when analyzed in a genetic evaluation framework, are valuable sources of information