Featured Post

Dr. Jamie Courter is your Mizzou Beef Genetics Extension Specialist

By Jared E. Decker Many of you have probably noticed that things have been a lot less active on the A Steak in Genomics™   blog, but you probably haven't known why. In January 2021, I was named the Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics at Mizzou, and I now focus on research, with a little bit of teaching. I no longer have an extension appointment. But, with exciting news, the blog is about to become a lot more active! Jamie Courter began as the new MU Extension state beef genetics specialist in the Division of Animal Sciences on September 1, 2023. I have known Jamie for several years, meeting her at BIF when she was a Masters student. I have been impressed by Jamie in my interactions with her since that time.  Dr. Courter and I have been working closely together the last 6 weeks, and I am excited to work together to serve the beef industry for years to come! Jamie holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from North Carolina State University and earned a master's degree in animal

Data-Driven Bull Buying

There are lots of ways to make a decision. We can act on our impressions or intuitions. Or, we can gather data and let the evidence guide our decisions. I call this a data-driven philosophy.

This week, Amanda Radke and Kris Ringwall gave their perspectives on a data-driven bull purchase. Both are great articles that I encourage you to check out.

Here is my take—we need to make our decisions on a single metric that takes all available information into consideration. These metrics are expected progeny differences (EPDs) and economic indexes. EPDs combine performance records, information from relatives, information from correlated traits, and—in the case of genomic-enhanced EPDs—results from DNA tests. EPDs are the most accurate measure for a particular trait of the bull's merit as a sire. Economic indexes combine multiple EPDs and economic values of each trait to create a single measure of the bull's merit for increasing a producer's profit. We should not be selecting on performance data, because these measures are confounded with the environment in which that bull was raised. Economic indexes, because they combine various forms of data, should be the main source of information when making selection decisions.

One of the traits that beef breed associations do not estimate EPDs for is structural correctness. Currently, beef producers must visually inspect animals to make sure they are structurally sound. Sam Comstock gave a presentation during the NBCEC Brown Bagger series about how the dairy industry estimates  genetic merits for structural soundness.

Bull buyers that would like to take less risk when purchasing a bull should look for producers who provide genomic-enhanced EPDs for their sale offerings. Genomic-enhanced EPDs are more accurate than pedigree-based EPDs because more information was used when estimating the EPD. The more reliable the EPD (i.e. accuracy), the less that value is going to change over time. When the EPD accuracy is higher, the producer can be more confident that the bull will meet his expectations.

Let's continue to strive for data-driven decision making in animal agriculture.


Popular posts from this blog

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

Bob Hough Comments on Changes at Breed Associations