Monday, October 16, 2017

TRC Field Day: Winter Nutrition for Beef Cows

Eric Bailey, MU Extension beef nutrition specialist, discusses winter nutrition for beef cows. One of the practices that we see commonly in Nebraska, but less so in Missouri, is grazing corn stalks. Dr. Bailey discusses opportunities and limitations of this practice.

Recorded at the MU CAFNR Thompson Research Center Field Day, September 21, 2017.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Show-Me-Plus Heifers to Sell in Joplin


The Southwest Show-Me-Select™ Replacement Heifer Sale will be November 17th, 2017 at 7 PM at the Joplin Regional Stockyards. Video preview and sale may be viewed at www.joplinstockyards.com and DVAuction on-line bidding may be arranged in advance.

A Show-Me-Plus heifer is a registered or commercial heifer that has genomic predictions. For a registered heifer, this means she has GE-EPDs. For commercial heifers, it means she has been tested with a DNA panel
providing genomic predictions.

The following lots contain Show-Me-Plus heifers.

DJV Cattle Co., Edwards djvcattlecompanyjustin@gmail.com 573-345-3404
15, Angus and Angus cross heifers; all heifers have been GeneMax tested which qualifies them as Show-Me-Plus; all are synchronized and AI bred to calve on February 20; our first SMS sale.

Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
$W
AI – GAR Prophet Angus 11/
.91
72/
.96
33/
.86
124/
.95
$92.42


Goodnight Angus Farm, Carthage jeff.goodnight@sbcglobal.net 417-459-2558
4, home-raised registered Angus heifers; complete performance data; genomically tested with GGP LD test; Show-Me-Plus qualified; tested and negative for Neospora; AI breds due January 24; cleanups due March 5 to March 19; our 4th SMS sale.
Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
$W
AI – GAR Sure Fire Angus 16/
.82
58/
.85
27/
.47
108/
.88
$61.36
AI – GAR Prophet Angus 11/
.91
72/
.96
33/
.86
124/
.95
$92.42
NS– Jacs Blackjack 5124 Angus 12/
.34
61/
.48
23/
.31
116/
.43
$59.74


Circle S Chicks (Dusty & Val Sturgeon), Stark City sturgeon-V@yahoo.com 417-489-0039
100, Red Angus heifers; 70 were synchronized and AI bred are due to calve February 1; 30 head are pasture exposed only and will calve from February 21 to March 23; preg tested via ultrasound and were fetal-sexed; genomically tested with Red Angus Herd Navigator which makes them Show-Me-Plus heifers; our 5th SMS sale.
Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
Herd-Builder
AI – Andras Fuslon R236 Red Angus 16/
.77
44/
.87
23/
.75
87/
.86
$124
NS – Bieber Fusion C168 Red Angus 13/
.21
42/
.33
24/
.20
70/
.37
$126
NS – Bieber Rou Stormy D37 Red Angus 10/
.26
61/
.33
24/
.14
103/
.36
$143
NS – Bieber Takeout D408 Red Angus 11/
.28
48/
.32
25/
.16
69/
.36
$118
NS – Bieber Acc Scc Triumph D109 Red Angus 10/
.27
50/
.35
26/
.16
83/
.38
$149


5C Ranch Inc./Scott Casey, El Dorado Springs charlie_casey@hotmail.com 417-296-1276
10, home-raised Angus & Angus cross heifers with Hereford influence; have used Angus bulls for 15 years; herd of 300 cows are Top Dollar Angus qualified; these sale heifers are Genemax Focus tested thus are Show-Me-Plus; grown on fescue with daily hand feeding; several of these 10 head are out of SMS females we’ve bought; carcass data from our herd the last 2 years show, 90% Choice/Prime; 4 lbs ADG; 30% Certified Angus Beef; 6:1 feed:gain; 5% were yield grades 4 & 5’s; Synchronized and AI bred to calve February 11; cleanup breds due February 19 to February 24; our first consignment to the SMS sale.
Service Sire Breed CE/
Acc
WW/
Acc
Milk/
Acc
YW/
Acc
$W
AI – Thomas Top Hand 0536 Angus 12/
.73
70/
.86
28/
.49
121/
.80
$74.67
NS– HPCA G A R Prophet 301 Angus 14/
.32
66/
.41
48/
.29
116/
.35
$91.95
NS– HPCA All In 565 Angus 18/
.35
63/
.44
30/
.33
108/
.39
$80.56

Thursday, October 12, 2017

TRC Field Day: Sex-Sorted Semen

Jordan Thomas, a PhD candidate in David Patterson's group, presented on the use of sex-sorted semen in the beef industry at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Thompson Research Center Field Day.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Calving Ease and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Red angus cows oregon
By Darcy Vial
USDA FSA Oregon via Wikimedia Commons
Written by Tom Brink
RAAA CEO
Reprinted from the Red Angus eNews - October 4, 2017

Calving ease is especially important in first-calf females, and is therefore something we pay close attention to when breeding virgin heifers. In fact, calving ease considerations usually rank first on the list when selecting bulls to use on heifers.  

Red Angus bulls often see service on heifers thus, mapping the relationship between calving ease EPDs (CED) and unassisted births is a worthwhile task. The better Red Angus breeders understand this relationship, the better selection and mating decisions they can make for themselves and their customers.

The curved line shown in the chart below was statistically derived from tens of thousands of Red Angus calving records stored in the RAAA database. All of the calvings are from first parity females bred to bulls ranging from -8 to 20 for CED. This line captures the “average” or “typical” experience calving heifers as the sires’ CED goes from the low end to the high end of the Red Angus bell curve.  



As expected, bulls with a higher CED produce a greater number of unassisted births. Conversely, bulls with low single digit or negative CEDs generally cause more calving difficulty. The shape of the curve also provides useful perspective. Note that moving from -8 to 0 for CED results in a sharp increase in unassisted births. That’s obviously a good thing. It’s also why we don’t see many heifers bred to negative CED bulls.    

Unassisted births improve further when moving from a CED of 0 up to the 8-10 area. This improvement is significant in magnitude, but the incremental benefit of each additional one-point increase in CED is now becoming smaller as the law of diminishing returns is taking effect. 

Moving up the curve from a 10 to 15 CED provides a bit more benefit but the incremental advantage is now very small. Over 15, the line flattens out completely, which means there is no practical difference in unassisted births for bulls having CEDs ranging from 15 to 20 or above.  Unless a group of heifers are small in size, have inadequate pelvic area, and/or are underdeveloped at the time of calving, we would not expect any difference in calving difficulty between a bull with a CED of 14 or 15 versus one whose CED is 19 or 20. In that zone, the law of diminishing returns is in full control, stamping out any more benefit completely.

As a final thought, don’t forget that EPD accuracies matter a great deal when making mating decisions in which calving ease is critical. It may in some situations be better to use a high-accuracy bull with a lower but still acceptable CED instead of one with a higher CED that is unproven with low accuracy.

Decker's Take Home Message
It is so easy to want to select for maximums. We need to remind ourselves to select for optimums. 
The Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program requires Red Angus service sires to have a CED EPD greater than 8. Artificial insemination (AI) sires must have an EPD accuracy greater than 0.6.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Reverend Bayes and Cattle Breeding

Thomas Bayes
Reverend Bayes
via Wikimedia Commons
You are asking yourself, who is Reverend Bayes and what does he have to do with cattle? The answer to this question will answer a major misconception in cattle genetics.

Reverend Bayes was an 18th century Presbyterian minister. He was also trained in logic. Due to Bayes’ work on probabilities, an approach to statistics called Bayesian statistics is named after him. In Bayesian statistics, we start with a prior belief (prior probability). As more information and data are gathered, we update this prior belief. We call this new update a posterior belief. We continue this process as we collect additional data. Further, a key tenant of Bayesian statistics is evaluating the methods (i.e. models) used in our analysis. Statisticians and scientists did not frequently use this system of statistics in the early 20th century. But, with increased computing power, Bayesian statistics has become very popular in the 21st century.

White Bull
By Lutz Koch
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cattle genetic prediction is very much Bayesian. We start with a prior belief. For genetic predictions (e.g. EPDs), this prior is the parental average. The parental average is half of the sire’s genetic prediction plus half of the dam’s genetic prediction. This prior prediction is not only based on quantitative genetics theory, but biology as well. If we mated the same sire and dam hundreds of times to produce hundreds of progeny, the average breeding value of those progeny would be the parental average.

When we receive new data on an animal, an important step happens. We update our prediction! Every calf receives a random sample of its sire’s and dam’s genetics. As we collect data on the animal, either its own performance, the performance of its progeny, or genomic test results, we now have information to sort out this random sample of genetic effects the animal received from its parents. The amount of variation associated with this random shuffle of genes between generations is quite large. In typical situations, the amount of variance between full siblings (same sire and dam) is equal to half of the variance in the entire population. This random sample of genes is unknown. It takes data to identify how an individual animal’s breeding value is different from its parental average. Thus, as we update predictions based on new data, it improves the prediction, making it closer to its unknown true value. We continue this updating process until we reach enough certainty that we call this animal a “proven” parent.

Not only do predictions change by updating the data, but also occasionally, we improve the statistical models used to estimate them. In the early 2000s, many dairy breeds added fertility traits to their economic indexes (breeding objectives). Prior to this, the genetic trend for fertility had been negative and the fertility of dairy herds was decreasing. After this change to the indexes, genetic merit for fertility increased and dairy herds became more fertile.

Several beef breed associations have recently switched or are in the process of switching from multi-step genomic prediction to single-step genomic prediction. Concurrent with this switch, several other changes will be made to the statistical models. For example, July 7, 2017 Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) updated the evaluation of carcass traits for the American Angus Association. When producers were turning in carcass data it tended to be actual carcass data from low performing bulls who became steers or ultrasound data from the very best animals. This was not a random sample. It was a biased sample from a selected set of animals, which were either the very worst or the very best. In other words, there was selection bias. But, by fitting weaning weights as a correlated trait in the analysis of carcass data AGI removed this selection bias. This improved the genetic predictions.

As Nate Silver and Philip Tetlock have both written, the best predictions update as they receive new data. Yet, when a recently purchased animal quickly losses value as data and models are updated, this causes anxiety and alarm for many cattle breeders. When confronted with these situations, livestock breeders need to remind themselves of two facts.

  1. When they made the purchase, they used the best available predictions. 
  2. The new answer will serve them better in the long run. 

Imagine if predictions are not updated, or we stick our head in the sand and ignore updated predictions. In this scenario, our customers will become frustrated because what we are saying in our marketing is not matching real world performance. We can either swallow the bitter pill now resulting in happy, confident customers. Or, we can ignore the truth and end up with unhappy, distrusting customers.

Cattle breeders can use this updating process to their advantage by collecting and reporting data. Collect all the data that you can afford based on financial, time, and labor resources. Make sure the data you report is accurate (clean data). Do not guess on weights or use birth weight tapes. Report actual weights recorded on a scale! Turn in complete data. Record and report data on every calf born on your farm. Do not pick and choose which data you report; report all of it. Otherwise, you are simply biasing the predictions.

Updated predictions are valuable. Although updates may be uncomfortable in the short term, these updates make predictions more accurate. These updated predictions increase the precision of genetic predictions, improve the rate of genetic progress, and advance the sustainability, including profitability, of our cattle enterprises. By using updated predictions, we separate the signal from the noise and reap the benefit of modern statistics.

Written for the Fall 2017 MWI Veterinary Update.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Brownfield: Gene by Environment Cattle Research

beef research and teaching farm_south farm_summer_0046
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Julie Harker of Brownfield Ag News.

Head over to Brownfield Ag News to listen to our conversation. At Mizzou, we are working to create new tools that will stack the deck for farmers and ranchers to be more sustainable. That sustainability includes environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and, perhaps most importantly, profitability.

Thanks to Julie for taking time to conduct the interview and publish it!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Good ration affects cow profits; MU field day to tell of nutrition

by Duane Dailey

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri beef producers have it good when it comes to feed resources, says Eric Bailey, University of Missouri Extension nutritionist.
On Sept. 21 at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard, he’ll share his good news. Bailey, new to Missouri, can tell what cow owners face in New Mexico, Texas and Kansas. “I’ve seen lots of prairie hay with no nutrient value at all,” Bailey says.
“Missourians make top-notch hay,” he says. Also, Show-Me producers have access to many distillers byproducts and alternative feeds.
Other speakers at the Thompson Farm event will talk genetic advances. They know the part nutrition plays in expression of genetic potential.
Research on fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) will be updated.
The annual event at the MU research farm west of Spickard will be held in the evening, a change. Sign-in starts at 3:30 p.m. with farm tours to follow. Talks begin at 6 p.m. and dinner is at 7:15. Last talk, on price premiums for selling quality beef, will be at 8:15 p.m.
“Missouri has lots of high-quality cattle,” Bailey says. “I see that, driving up and down the roads.” He’s been across the state on get-acquainted tours.
Bailey doesn’t plan to get deep into details at first. “I want herd owners to think feeding systems. First, they must think feed intake.”
Owners must have some idea on what is enough. Also, they need to know what is too much, he says.
For example, a 1,400-pound cow eats 36 pounds of feed per day. Multiply that by 30 for forage for a month. Then extend that for a year. That’s 12,960 pounds. “Now think 7 tons per cow for the year. Then allow for waste loss,” Bailey says.
To put a frame on mineral mixes, do similar figures. Mineral bag labels state average consumption of 4 ounces per head per day. That’s 91.25 pounds for a year. That’s two 50-pound bags of supplement.
“Start with getting feed intake right,” Bailey says. That’s for grazing or rolling out hay bales.
“Get feed out in front of them,” he says. “If you feed a cow only 2 pounds a day, it doesn’t matter how good the ration. She’ll lose body condition.”
Next, Bailey wants producers to know their feed costs. A cow pays for her feed with one calf per year. “If you spend more than the price of one calf, you lose money.”
Nutrition must stay in the framework of one cow having one calf. “If a calf sells for $750, that’s all you can spend for all costs of production that year.”
After starting with the big picture, particularly on feed intake and cost, Bailey can help refine a ration. That can improve production while keeping expenses under control.
Later, Bailey will give lessons on cutting waste. Instead of worrying too much about mineral mix, start with a rainproof feeder. Or even bigger, farmers can learn to cut waste when feeding hay.
The Thompson Research Center, a part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia, is at the end of state Highway C, 7 miles west of Spickard. That’s off U.S. Highway 65 in northwestern Grundy County.
The event and dinner are free. Sponsors will set up exhibits in the breeding barn.
 

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