Showing posts from 2018

University of Missouri Southwest Research Center: Expanding and Improving the Beef Herd

What does it mean to have a successful cow herd in the Ozarks? What should be the genetic focus? How do we select and manage cattle to perform on toxic endophyte-infected fescue? What technologies can be used profitably? What marketing opportunities could add value to the cattle? These are questions facing every beef operation in Southwest Missouri, including the University of Missouri Southwest Research Center. As the Center moves away from a focus on grazing dairy production, faculty and staff at the Southwest Research Center and on campus at the University of Missouri recognize there is now an opportunity to increase the emphasis placed on beef cattle Research and Extension at the Southwest Research Center. With support from the Southwest Research Center Advisory Board and key stakeholders in the regional and national beef industry, an effort to expand and improve the Southwest Research Center beef herd is now underway.

A Beef Focus for Southwest Missouri A defined objective and s…

Neogen launches upgraded Igenity® Beef Profile

Commercial beef producers will get more traits and selection index tools in the upgraded Igenity® Beef profile.
The Igenity Beef Profile will offer 16 traits for $29, replacing Neogen’s 13-trait Igenity Gold ($40) and 6-trait Igenity Silver ($25) tests. The upgrade includes new predictions for weaning weight, yearling weight and hot carcass weight for a total of 16 traits scored on a 1–10 scale, plus two new selection indexes.
“Our customers will be getting a powerful new profile at even greater value,” said Dr. Stewart Bauck, vice president of agrigenomics at Neogen. “The Igenity profile was designed and validated for crossbred or straightbred cattle with backgrounds of Angus, Red Angus, Simmental, Hereford, Limousin and Gelbvieh.
“Most DNA profiles are breed-specific,” Bauck continued. “The novel design of Igenity Beef allows for the accurate prediction of performance in both crossbred or straightbred cattle among the target breeds. This lets cow-calf producers use a DNA profile to …

ARSBC 2018: Practical Application of Genomic Tests in Beef Production

Megan Rolf
Kansas State University

What is genomic testing?
We are looking at single base changes (SNPs) at thousands of locations across an animals DNA. We can use these DNA markers to predict genetic merit differences. We can also use these DNA markers for parentage.

Other DNA test don't use markers, but they directly test the variant responsible for the phenotype. Examples of this are genetic defects or coat color testing.

Genotyping in seedstock
We collect a DNA sample, send it off to the breed assocation, and the data is incorporated into EPDs. DNA testing for genomic-enhanced EPDs is a breed improvement strategy. It is a way to make genetic progress faster. For a seedstock producer, it also provides customer service by providing more accurate EPDs.

We can used DNA to improve EPDs using two approaches. First, we can use a DNA to create a prediction of the trait and blend this prediction with the EPD. Or, we can use the DNA to better estimate the relatedness between the animals…

ARSBC 2018: EPDs and How to Use Them

Darrh Bullock
University of Kentucky

Crossbreeding should always be a consideration for commercial cattlemen. Crossbreeding has the greatest benefit for reproduction and other lowly heritable breeds.

Practical Guide to Bull Buying
Determine marketing strategy. Will heifers be retained? Make breeding decisions based on specific marketing plan. But, change marketing plan based on current situations.

It's pretty easy to find a bull that will give you great feeder calves and market animals. When we are keeping replacement females, we are now asking a bull to create females and feeder calves. We've given him a new job.

Determine your management level.
What is your labor? How frequently do you visit your cattle? How much attention do you give to them?
What is your level of nutritional management?
Assure that bulls are reproductively sound with a BSE.
Check for structural soundness. This is doubly important if you are retaining females.

The tough one is to set performance levels based…

ARSBC 2018: Impact of fly control on cattle performance

Brandon Smythe
New Mexico State University

Three species Smythe works on:

Horn fliesStable fliesHouse flies

House flies become an issue when we upset our neighbors. Dairy in New Mexico dealt with litigation from their neighbors.

Everyone knows that flies are horrible.

Both horn fly males and females feed on blood. Horn flies feed 30 to 40 times a day. Stable flies feed once or twice and then find a place to rest. Horn flies almost never leave a cow. Only time they leave is to lay eggs on a manure patch.

There can be 200 to 1000 flies per animal. Flies are reproductively efficient. Flies lay 10 to 200 viable eggs per female. This reproduction efficiency allows for population surges.

Horn flies are a warm weather pest, thus during cattle breeding and growing. Flies go dormant in winter months.

Horn flies reduce performance in feed efficiency, growth and milk production. Horn flies are number one in causing production losses.
We see a $5 to $8 return for every $1 we spend on fly control.

ARSBC 2018: EPDs and Reasonable Expectations in Commercial Crossbred Operations

Jared Decker, PhD
University of Missouri
One point must be clear from the very beginning: EPDs work. When we select parents based on EPDs the genetic merit for that trait increases in our herd. When we select the parents using EPDs the performance of the next generation improves. EPDs Defined EPD stands for Expected Progeny Difference. These three words are loaded with meaning, thus the need to define them here. The most loaded word is Expected. Here we use Expected the way a statistician would use the word. Expected means we are making a prediction of a future value. But, in this context, Expected also means we are describing the average of a group. What is the group for which we are predicting the average? We are predicting the average performance of the Progeny or calves out of an animal. An animal’s own performance and its EPD can be quite different, because that is not the purpose of an EPD. The EPD is predicting the average performance of that animal’s calf crop. Finally, EPDs are u…

ARSBC 2018: Pregnancy Diagnosis

Ky Pohler
Texas A&M University

Pohler will discuss many different methods of pregnancy diagnosis. Producers need to find a method that works for them.

When do cows experience pregnancy loss?
95% of time fertilization occurs.
By day 28, pregnancy has dropped to 70%, a 25% loss of pregnancies. This is referred to as early embryonic loss.
By day 42, we lose 8% more pregnancies, the pregnancy rate is now around 62%. This is late embryonic loss.

Cows all cost the same to manage. If they don't have a calf or have a calf born late in the calving season, they cost us money.

Knowing pregnancy status of the herd helps make management decisions. They can help with drought management (sell open cows) and marketing decisions. Pregnancy diagnosis also helps us evaluate bull or semen fertility and breeding program success.

Pregnancy diagnosis doesn't cost a lot, but provides a great economic benefit.

What is the ideal pregnancy test?

High sensitivity (correctly identify pregnant animals)Hi…

ARSBC 2018: Predicting and promoting fertility in bulls

Joe Dalton
University of Idaho

Sperm attributes necessary for fertilitization:

Acceptable morphologyMetabolism for production of energyProgressive motilityCapacity for hyperactive motilityStabilization of plasma and acrosomal membrane lipidsAcrosomal enzymesChromatin integrity

More is not always better. 1/2 cc straws are not better than 1/4 cc straws.
How many sperm cells are needed to get a female pregnant? It depends. Different bulls have different sperm fertility.

There are compensable semen traits, such as mis-shaped sperm, that compromise sperm quality. Increasing sperm number can compensate for this.

There are incompensable semen traits, such as genetic inviablity, that compromise sperm quality. Increasing sperm number cannont compensate for these traits.

They used Angus bulls on Nelore cows to look at the effect of sperm dose. They used 10 million, 20 million, 20 million, and 40 million sperm per straw. They put each of these treatments in different colored straws. There was no f…

ARSBC 2018: Management decisions impacting reproduction and longevity in the Southwest

Adam Summers
New Mexico State University

What are some of the management things we do to help cows stay in the herd longer?

Most literature says a cow needs to produce 3 to 5 calves to be profitable. This depends on your level of supplementation and inputs.

Heifers that calve early stay in the herd longer. Cows that calve earlier produce more pounds of calf at weaning over their lifetime. Heifers that calve early produce 550 lbs more of calf over their lifetime.

Calves that were in utero during good years (above average rain) had increased birth weights and weaning weights. Calves that were in utero during bad years (below average rain) had more calves when they became cows.

Reduced body weight prior to breeding heifers did not change the rate at which those cows left the herd.

We are not using estrus synchronization and artificial insemination as much as we should. Main concerns were labor, time, and facilities.

However, we can use a PGF2 to increase the number of heifers that calve e…

ARSBC 2018: Preparing for the breeding season in a drought

Eric Scholljegerdes
New Mexico State University

The number one limiting nutrient on rangeland, whether in a drought or winter, is going to be crude protein.

We are feeding two organisms when we are feeding a beef cow. First is the rumen microbes. The second is the cow.

We see improvement in low-quality forage intake in response to crude protein supplementation. However, in a drought year this can be an issue. When grass availability is limited, we don't want to waste that resource. This is when a conservative stocking rate comes into play.

If forage crude protein is above 8%, we probably don't need to supplement protein as intake is not going to increase. If crude protein is above 8%, we may want to supplement energy instead.

Increase in protein allows the bacteria in the rumen to more completely digest the fiber in the diet.

By-pass protein provides key amino acids.

Non-structural forms of energy, e.g. starch from cereal grains causes a substitution effect. Non-structural carb…

ARSBC 2018: Considerations for utilizing reproductive technologies in Bos indicus-influenced cattle

Jordan Thomas
University of Missouri

Bos indicus cattle are different from Bos taurus cattle. They were domesticated at a different time, in a different location from a different population than Bos taurus cattle.

The big difference between Bos indicus cattle and Bos taurus is the attainment of puberty. Bos indicus cattle reach puberty later on average. Nutrition does not cause earlier puberty, but adequate nutrition is necessary to express potential for puberty. Brahman influenced animals are very sensitive to lower target weights and their ability to reach puberty.

Modern compound bows have multiple sights for different distances. Even if we use perfect form, but use the 20 yard sight to shot a target at 60 yards, we will miss the target. We often make this same mistake when trying to hit mature cow weight targets. Cull cow weights can help us better identify the mature cow weight target.

Reproductive tract scores are a helpful tool in managing Bos indicus-influenced heifers.

Bos indic…

ARSBC 2018: General considerations for implementing an artificial insemination program or other reproductive technologies

George Perry
South Dakota State University

Criteria that heifers should meet:
What has the pregnancy rate in your heifers been over the past few years?
Have your heifer received growth promoting implants?
Have your heifers reached the target weight? Typically 65%.
What are the Reproductive Tract Scores of the heifers?

Heifers have to reach 55% of their mature weight to start reaching puberty. However, how well can we know what the mature weight will be? When targeting 55% at breeding, we are really walking on the knife's edge. By targeting 65%, we are hedging for uncertainty.

Heifers with Reproductive Tract Scores that are 1 or 2 not only have lower conception rates as heifers, they also have lower conception rates at 2-year olds.

Criteria that Cows Should Meet

What was the body condition score of your cows at calving? Should be greater than 5.
What is the current body condition score of your cows?
How many days postpartum will your bows be when estrus synchronization is started?


ARSBC 2018: Tools for Timeliness, Estrus Synchronization Planner & Management Minder

Sandy Johnson
Kansas State University

There are 365 days in a year. There are 283 days of gestation, plus or minus. We have 82 days to get a cow cycling and breed.

Kansas State University and Iowa Beef Center have put together 3 versions of the Estrus Synchronization Planner, Excel, mobile, and multi-group.

The sync planner is freely available at

In the tool, you select the type of protocol you are using (estrus detection, estrus detection with clean up AI, and fixed-time AI).

The mobile version is available at

They also have a multi-group version of the Excel estrus synchronization planner. It is important to enable macros within the Excel program so the sheet can work. This allows you to have two groups of heifers, or a group of heifers and a group of cows. This allows you to print out a calendar.

The estrus planner also produces a supply list.

The estrus planner is focused on the few weeks of breeding. Johnson has …

ARSBC 2018: Control of Estrus and Ovulation in Beef Cows and Heifers

David Patterson
University of Missouri

The goals of developing FTAI protocols:

Easy to schedule and administerReduce animal handlingResult in a highly synchronized and fertile estrus and ovulation

Protocols in Heifers
Make sure you are using the protocols for the current year. Don't use protocol sheets that are several years old, as the protocols are changed and improved.

"With an MGA program, intake is key" Patterson said. He does not recommend top dressing the MGA, but mixing it into a 3 to 5 lbs carrier.

MGA has a much broader distribution of the timing of estrus expression compared to a 14-day CIDR protocol.

With a MGA protocol, you AI 72 hours after PGF2 administration. With a CIDR protocol, heifers are AI'ed 66 hours after PGF2 administration.

You should not see any estrus expression during MGA feeding periods. If you do see heifers in heat, then there is a problem with MGA intake.

Prior to the first breeding season, there needs to be heifer management.
A health p…

ARSBC 2018: Physiology of the Estrous Cycle, Application of Basic Principles

Michael Smith
University of Missouri

The estrous cycle averages 21 days, with a range of 17 to 24 days. 
There is variation in how long cows express estrus. Most cows express estrus for more than 11 hours. However, there is a significant number of cows who express estrus for less than 10 hours. These cows are often the ones that are missed in heat check programs. The success of artificial insemination programs is a function of both estrus detection and pregnancy rate.
The presence of progestorone prevents ovulations and the expression of estrus. We use this principle in estrus synchronization procotols to synchronize estrus and ovulation.
There are three catagories of horomones used in estrus synchronization: Progestins/ProgesteroneProsteglandinsGnRH
Progesterone blocks estrus, blocks ovulation, preserves oocyte quality, and prepares for pregnancy. The two progestorone products used in the US are MGA and CIDR.
MGA feeding for 14 days syncs heifers to all express estrus at the same day. …

Show-Me-Select Genomic-Enhanced EPD Requirement: Where to purchase the DNA test

The Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program recently announced the requirement that natural service sires have genomic-enhanced EPDs. Where possible, genomic-enhanced EPDs should be available on the bull prior to purchasing him. However, this is not always the case. Some previously purchased bulls will need to be test prior to February 1, 2020.

If GE-EPDs are needed, DNA testing should be purchased and ordered through the breed association in which the bull is registered. For example, DNA testing for an Angus bull should be purchased through Angus Genetics, Inc.

Do NOT purchase tests designed for commercial heifers (Igenity Beef, GeneMax Advantage, etc.).

Here is information on purchasing DNA testing for GE-EPDs for several common breed associations used in the program:

Contact AGI Customer Services at 816-383-5100 for assistance.
Submitting DNA Samples to Angus Genetics
Collecting DNA Samples
Testing Options

Red Angus
Contact RAAA National Office at (940) 387-3502 ext 8 for assista…

Show-Me-Select Rules Require Genomic Tested Bull EPDs

New sire selection rules for Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers improve reliable calving-ease genetics.

“Bulls used in the heifer program will carry DNA-tested EPDs (expected progeny differences),” said Jared Decker, University of Missouri Extension geneticist.

The rules going into effect Feb. 1, 2019, were set by the SMS governing board of farmers.
“DNA tests add reliability to EPDs for selecting herd bulls,” Decker said.

Bulls for pasture-breeding heifers will carry genomic-enhanced EPDs. In the past, EPDs were based on pedigree and production tests. “Now GE EPDs combine DNA, pedigree and production data into a single tool,” he said.

“DNA tests give results similar to 28 calving-ease production records,” Decker said. “More data boost confidence in a sire.”

With DNA tests, EPDs result from checking blood drops, tissue samples or hair root bulbs. Blood or tissue tests are preferred, Decker said. A one-time test adds data on young bulls equal to years of production testing. It lasts a lifeti…

Show-Me-Select Board Approves Genomic Testing Requirement for Natural Service Sires

All bulls purchased after February 1st, 2019 for use as natural service sires in the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program™ must be DNA tested to have genomic-enhanced EPDs. All bulls used as natural service sires after February 1st, 2020 must have genomic-enhanced EPDs, regardless of when they were purchased. Seedstock producers classifying bulls as Show-Me-Select qualified in sale books must have genomic-enhanced EPDs on those lots.
Bulls purchased prior to February 1st, 2019 will be grandfathered into the program, as is the common practice with all natural service sires. However, this grandfather grace period will end February 1st, 2020. At that time for a bull to qualify for use in the program, it must have genomic-enhanced EPDs.

Why the change? The Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program has the goal of producing premium heifers that perform predictably as 2 year olds. The program has a history of requiring Show-Me-Select producers to go beyond typical cattle production pr…

BIF 2018: Experiences with Implementation of Single-Step at American Angus, One Year In

Steve Miller

Angus Genetics Inc has four research scientists. They do single-step genomic evaluations for Angus, Canadian Angus, Charolais, Canadian Charolais, and Maine-Anjou.

Angus switched to single-step on July 7th, 2017. Miller feels like the switch to single-step was a monumental switch, should have made the Time Magazine year in review!

When breeders see bulls re-rank, they then understand was a correlation of 0.9 really means! On July 7th, Steve Miller talked to two breeders. On July 8th he was feel cool and casual like Ferris Buller. The next week, then the calls came.
"I've seen this before, in a couple of months it will all blow over" a friend told Miller. And that proved true.

The switch to single-step was kind of like the stages of grief with getting a flat tire.
Quiet phase: Listening, evaluating, asking yourself if you have a flat tire.
Expressive phase: Cussing, kicking dirt, frustrated.
Have to Move Forward phase: Fixing the tire and getting back on the …

BIF 2018: How Does the Dairy Industry Handle Information?

Chuck Sattler
Vice President, Genetic Programs, Select Sires Inc.

Data is fuel for breed improvement programs. Data drives the machine. Noise in the data is like water in the fuel.

Data has value! However, individual records have very little data. We have to share data for it to achieve its value. "We are not good at investing in data. It's not sexy," Sattler said. We need to invest in data collection.

We need to share data thoughtfully. Have a written agreement and think strategically when sharing data.

Genomic evaluations are a big data success story! "We marvel at the technology that makes this all possible," he said. As much as it is a story about DNA technology, it is also a story about bring large amounts of data together. It is also a success of big data.

If we had to do it over again, dairy industry might re-think Dairy Recording Processing Centers. Dairy Recording Processing Centers control the data and sometimes the breeder's voice is not heard.


BIF 2018: Positioning for the Future of Beef Production, Bringing it All Together

John Pollak
Emeritus Professor, Cornell University

50 years is a milestone in time that provides an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments. It is also an opportunity to reset the clock.

The process for selection

Establish a goalCreate a breeding objectiveCollect data for traits defined in the objectiveUtilize the data to predict genetic merit(other steps I missed)

What was the goal to motivate selection we performed over the past 50 years?
Pollak could not identify a consistent goal over the last 50 years.

We can look at genetic trends and see that genetic change has been accomplished. Change has happened, but can we articulate the goal that lead to these changes?

What goal should motivate the selection we perform ove the next 50 years?
The temptation is to continue on perhaps the same path on before. Doing the same things better. We should avoid this.

If Pollak were to define the goal for the beef industry's breeding objective it would be increase the sustainability of beef prod…

BIF 2018: Focus on Traits Not Considered

Dorian Garrick
Professor and Chief Scientist, Massey University

This is a one bull or two bull meeting. This means it cost about the profit from one or two bulls to pay for the attendence of this meeting. Beef producers need to leave this meeting with information and thoughts about how they will change and improve their operation.

We would like to think that you use index selection, but we know that you are probably using independent culling levels or phenotypic selection. However, we can look at genetic trends to see how traits have changed.

Weaning weight and yearling weights have increased over time. However, the rate at which these growth traits were changing slowed in 1990, when ultrasound carcass measures were introduced. So, Hereford breeders were still selecting for growth, but were also putting emphasis on other traits.

An average 2017-born daughter eats $57 more feed per year than an average 1980 daughter. This possibly outweighs improvement in terminal profitability. Mature …

BIF 2018: Focus on Sustainability

Sara Place
Senior Director, Sustainable Beef Production Research, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Does less beef mean less heat? Is meat, especially beef, not good for the planet?
We see the marketing of plant based burgers. We also see work for lab grown beef.

In the United States, agriculture and forestry are net carbon sinks (they capture carbon). In the US, beef is responsible for 2% of emissions. However, pasture is responsible for 3.9% of carbon capture. Agriculture is a net help in carbon emissions because of carbon capture! Further, carbon emissions are improving over time in agriculture.

However, the news media is not telling this story.

Emissions are not going down due to decreased consumption of beef. Emission are going down because of technology advancements. Productivity is a key driver in improving sustainability. We would need many more cattle, with much more emissions, if we produced cattle in 2017 they way we did in 1976.

If we continue on current trends, glob…