Trends and Developments in Genetic Evaluation of Beef

By Dorian Garrick, Dept of Animal Sciences, Colorado State Univ, Fort Collins, U.S.A.
calendar icon 11 June 2006
clock icon 2 minute read


Structural changes in the servicing of EPDs for US beef cattle interests have been proposed since the advent of the federally-funded National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) in 2001. In the future, breed associations will use a single entity for the provision of routine servicing of genetic evaluation rather than maintain separate relationships with Land Grant Universities.

In the short- to medium-term, the Land Grant Universities will focus on the development of the next generation of evaluation software for transfer to the new entity. In the medium- to long-term, the universities, through the NBCEC, will have a much stronger research and development focus. The NBCEC has already developed evaluation tools for some new suites of economically-relevant traits for the cow-calf sector including heifer pregnancy, stayability, and mature cow maintenance energy requirements.

Further developments are progressing on new traits for the postweaning phase. These include “value at finish” and “days to finish.” Genetic markers have been incorporated along with pedigree and performance data to account for uncertain pedigree and to combine marker and phenotypic data in a single analysis.

 A national multi-breed evaluation for growth is being prototyped, along with a single database for storing pedigree and performance records prior to genetic evaluation and for the resultant EPDs. A prototype decision support tool for comparing the merits of alternative sires within a system context has been developed and will be linked to this single national EPD database.

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