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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 eithe

How Do Current Market Incentives Affect Genetic Selection Decisions?

Dr. Lee Schulz
Iowa State University

Genetic selection should focus on long term profitability, but cattle producers live in a short-term price world.

"The market signal is pretty clear; more calf production is needed and will be rewarded." -Peel

We need to increase the pounds of calf weaned per exposed female. Need to increase conception rate, increase calving percentage, decrease pre-weaning calf death loss, and increasing weaning weight.

The beef industry operates as a textbook commodity industry. Long-run economic (not accounting) profits are zero. Profit levels lead producers to 'bid away' margins.

The inventory cycle has become more variable, e.g. longer troughs.

Beef replacement heifers now make up 20% of the national beef cow herd. Growth has been largest in Great Plains.

Because of short-term price fluctuations, we should us management to address short-term price changes.

How much expansion should be expect? FAPRI and USDA projects vary greatly.

Should you buy or raise replacement females?
Raise:

  • Does it cost you less to raise than buy?
  • Is Genetic base acceptable? (Calving ease, milk, weights, quality, etc.)
  • Your environment is not stressful to "imported" heifers


Buy:

  • Cost you less to buy than raise
  • Value alternative uses of money or time


If you buy heifers, rather than raise, you need to have increased performance from the progeny of the purchased female. Typically, this means you need heavier weaning weights from that purchased heifer.
Expanding is very expensive now. Risk management becomes a priority.

Decker's Take Home Message:
Using genetic and genomic selection to focus on increased performance, efficiency, and quality can be an effective risk management tool.

*Note, Dr. Schulz often referred to reproduction as lowly heritable. This is not actually born out by the data. Genetics influences 14% of the variation in pregnancy; for comparison, genetics influences 20% of the variation in weaning weight. We can make substantial improvement in reproduction using genetics!

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