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Sustainability at the Heart of Beef Cattle Genomics

17 February 2015

US – Time and effort spent on improving genomic accuracy is driving the long term sustainability of cattle production and has enabled the industry to leapfrog a generation of cattle.

Instead of waiting for the progeny of bulls to mature, cattle producers can confidently know what to expect from bulls because of Expected Progeny Difference (EPDs).

Maternal, production and carcass traits can be selected with the end goal of improving the product to a consumer and offering “system wide efficiencies” to a cow/calf operation.

This can be through matching cattle to environments and nutrition.

In an interview with TheCattleSite, Dr Kent Anderson of Zoetis genetics said: “We really want for cow/calf producers to be more sustainable long term and by matching the genetics in their cows to the environment and the feed resources they have and at the same time being mindful of what the consumer wants.”

He added that the costs of genomics are becoming “more sensible” relative to the value created.

Zoetis has partnered up with a triad of Angus organisations; the American Angus Association, Angus Genetics Inc and the Certified Angus Beef Brand, but Dr Anderson explained that its not just black cattle that have dependable EPDs.

Outlining many mainstream beef breeds, he said: “They all have tools now where the DNA marker information is being integrated into the EPDs to create more dependable bull buying decisions.”

Predictions come from drawing on the progeny of other animals within large genetic databases and predicting how future offspring are going to perform.

A host of attributes are expressed by a number, with multi-trait indexes expressed in dollars per head to offer an easier choice, otherwise known as $Value.

"The takeaway for cow/calf producers is that now they can buy tested bulls with EPDs that have the equivalent dependability to a first calf crop that's already in production," explained Dr Anderson. 

"On both bull buying and replacement heifer selection and breeding there are tools to help us go 'beyond the eye' to select for those things in the unseen world that make for more profitable cows."

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms


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