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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

BIF Genetic Prediction: Decision Support Using Customizable Indices Across Breeds

Matt Spangler
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Are we done with changes? Releasing a single-step evaluation should allow us to focus attention on other topics and needs.

EPD have been available to the U.S. beef industry for over 40 years. Survey results suggest that 30% of beef producers use EPDs or indexes as their primary selection criteria. Part of the lack of technology adoption is likely due to the confusion surrounding how best to use them. Also, some breed associations publish in excess of 20 EPD per animal. There are increasing number of EPDs, but we continue to publish indicator traits such as Birth Weight, when we have the economically relevant trait published, Calving Ease in this case.

Selection indexes were first published in 1942, but the first breed-wide selection index for beef cattle was published in 2004.

We have terminal and general purpose indexes in the beef industry. "We don't have any truely maternal indexes in the beef industry," Spangler said. We don't have selection for terminal lines and maternal lines in the beef industry.

Many economically relevant traits are not currently collected in the seedstock sector. We need better data collection for reproduction traits (longevity), disease, routine carcass traits, and packing plant value (dark cutters, etc.).

Right now we use a lot of indicator traits in economic indexes. The index works much better if we directly measure the economically relevant trait. Having more accurate EPDs in the index improves the accuracy of the EPD. But, more importantly, having the right traits in the index improves the accuracy much more than improving EPD accuracy.

There have been previous attempts to create customizable indexes. However, these required a lot of information input. This likely limited uptake of these approaches. Spangler's approach will be to create tiers of information requirements. Different producers can input different amounts of data.

Spangler and colleagues received a USDA Critical Agriculture Research and Extension grant to create online decision support tools. They are currently looking as 3 use cases. Commercial buyers looking at genetic purchasing decisions based on firm-specific breeding objective. Seedstock buyers customizing indexes for their bull customers. Seedstock buyers looking for customized indexes for their purchasing decisions.

Part of the motivation for the work is to increase engagement from cattle breeders. It is hoped that this engagement will increase uptake and use of selection indexes.

As part of the project they are conducting a survey to look at attitudes toward technology adoption, EPD use, and index use.


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