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Hereford and Red Angus Heifers Recruited for Genomics Research

The University of Missouri is recruiting 2,500 Hereford heifers and 2,500 Red Angus heifers to participate in a heifer puberty and fertility genomic research project. Heifers should be registered Hereford, registered Red Angus, or commercial Hereford or Red Angus. Hereford x Red Angus crossbred heifers targeted for the Premium Red Baldy Program would also be a good fit for the research project. Producers must be willing to work with a trained veterinarian to collect the following data: ReproductiveTract Scores collected at a pre-breeding exam 30 to 45 days prior to the start of the breeding season.PelvicMeasurements (height and width) collected at the same pre-breeding exam 30 to 45 days prior to the start of the breeding season.Pregnancy Determination Using Ultrasound reporting fetal age in days. Ultrasound will need to occur no later than 90 days after the start of the breeding season.
In addition, heifers must have known birth dates and have weights recorded either at a year of age o…

Do Hips Lie?

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My older son Jaden Decker competed in the Missouri Junior Hereford Association Illustrated Speech Contest.  The Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program has been very successful helping farmers and ranchers better manage beef heifers. We recently received USDA funding to use reproductive tract scores, pelvic measurements, and fetal age from ultrasound to better predict heifer reproduction EPDs. We are recruiting 2,500 Hereford and 2,500 Red Angus heifers for this project.
Jaden discusses using these management practices and collecting this data in his herd.

Hazardous Hair Shedding

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One of the things I learned from my student Troy Rowan was that best part of breed association's junior national expos is the contests and activities.  So, when I saw the Junior National Hereford Expo Pee Wee Speech contest was online this year, we jumped at the opportunity. 
Below is Jensen Decker's speech titled "Hazardous Hair Shedding". 
Really excited about the growth this young man showed through this experience! Thanks for to the National Hereford Women for sponsoring the Pee Wee Speech contest.

Three Awesome Things We Learned From Hair Shedding

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We recently posted a preprint (a research publication that has not yet been peer reviewed) to the bioRxiv server. You can read the article here: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.21.109553 This manuscript describes our work with Angus breeders and Angus Genetics Inc. to create a hair shedding EPD for the American Angus Association.
We learned a lot of cool things about hair shedding in this paper. Including how hair shedding is related to other traits and how hair shedding is related to the environment.
1) Negative Relationship Between Milk and Growth Something interesting to me was to learn more about the genetic correlation between weaning weight direct and weaning weight maternal. Most producers will know weaning weight maternal as the Milk EPD. Many animal breeders have believed that the negative genetic correlation between weaning weight maternal (milk) and weaning weight direct is a by-product of the procedures used to estimate EPDs. A negative genetic correlation between weaning weig…

EPDs and Genomics: A Conversation with the American Angus Association Board

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At the National Western Stock Show, I had a great discussion with the American Angus Association board and members. Angus Media put together a nice summary of that presentation.

Selection Decisions

Use Information Extracted from Data to Breed a Better Calf Crop and Cow HerdHere is a fun conversation starter on your next visit to the coffee shop or diner. What is the most important trait in cattle production? What trait do you think is most important? Another way to ask this question, how do you define a "good" cow?
In a typical group of cattle producers, you will get a lot of different answers. One person will say weaning weight and another will say marbling. A third may say calving ease, "Gotta have a live calf." A fourth may say fertility. But, why are these different traits important? Because they affect the profitability of beef operations! Profit is the most important trait in beef production. The profitability of a bull's or cow's calves should be our number one criterion when selecting breeding stock. 
How many beef producers go to a bull sale to buy a load of soil or a bag of feed? In other words, do we go to a bull sale to buy the environment? …

Angus TV: Hair Shedding Research EPD Developed

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We will have a scientific article describing the hair shedding research soon. Work was completed by Harly Durbin during her time at Angus Genetics Inc. as an intern.

Directional Selection and Local Adaptation in Beef Cattle

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My group has posted a new preprint on bioRxiv.  You can check it out here: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.11.988121 Warning, it is written for a technical audience, not in cowboy terms.
So- what are the take-home messages for farmers and ranchers? We can identify the DNA variants responding to your selection decisions.You tend to select cattle that have better immune systems.Hormone production in the ovaries is under selection in Red Angus. Makes sense based on the breed's focus on fertility.Muscle development is under selection in Gelbvieh. We can identify the DNA variants that lead to cattle adapted to their environmentBlood vessel tightening or loosening is under environmental selection.The brain and neuron signaling is an important part of environmental adaptation.We are losing local adaptation in beef cattle.Check out this Twitter thread to see figures from the paper. https://twitter.com/pop_gen_JED/status/1258786262149808131
Regarding the last point, we can fix the loss of local …