AngusONE: Genetic Evaluations

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Source: Canadian Angus

Expected progeny differences (EPDs), generated through our AngusONE genetic evaluations, are predicted breeding values that allow for fair comparison of animals across herds, regardless of environment and management differences. They are expectations of how an animal’s progeny will perform, on average, for specific economically relevant traits.

EPDs are values that predict how the future progeny of an animal will perform relative to the progeny of other animals in the same breed. They are expressed in the units of that particular trait. For example, weaning weight is measured in pounds thus the Weaning Weight EPD is expressed in pounds. Another way to look at it is EPDs measure an animal’s value as a parent.

EPDs are based on pedigree information and performance data such as weight information and are then compared to other animals within a contemporary group. The different traits are adjusted to a standard age to ensure that all animals are equal when they are compared.

EPDs are useful tools when planning breeding programs.

Attention should be paid to the heritability—the proportion of variation for a particular trait that is determined genetically—and correlations to the traits a breeder wants to improve upon within the herd. Some traits are more heritable than others resulting in faster progress being made in comparison to other less heritable traits. Also, many traits are correlated, wherein the trait is affected by the expression of several other traits. It is important to be aware of such logistics when developing selection criteria in a breeding program.

The higher the heritability of a trait, the more accurately an individual’s own performance will predict its breeding value for this trait. Calving Ease and Milk have lower heritability. This means that there are a lot of factors in addition to genetics that influence these traits, and a cow’s own milking ability does not reflect her daughters’ milking ability to a high degree. Conversely, growth traits are moderately heritable and carcass traits are highly heritable.

EPDs are useful tools when planning breeding programs. Attention should be paid to the heritability and correlations to the traits a breeder wants to improve upon within the herd. Some traits are more heritable than others resulting in faster progress being made in comparison to other less heritable traits. Also, many traits are correlated, wherein the trait is affected by the expression of several other traits. It is important to be aware of such logistics when developing selection criteria in a breeding program.

Understanding the heritability and the effects of correlation between traits will aid in developing a genetic selection program that will optimize improvement on desired traits while minimizing undesirable side effects.

Each individual breeder must set his own selection goals based on the needs of his operation, the situation for that trait in his herd, and his production environment.

Heritabilities_and_Genetic_Correlations_Graph

We also participate in BOLT genetic evaluations with our long standing partner for Red Angus evaluations, the Red Angus Association of America. BOLT is ran by the IGS group and the American Simmental Association. The IGS group includes American and Canadian Simmental, Gelbvieh, Shorthorn, Limousin, Shorthorn, Red Angus and several other partners. The beef improvement federation (BIF) publishes across breed adjustment factors to help members estimate what their AngusONE EPDs would convert to in another genetic evaluation.

Breed Averages

Released August 2021 Black Angus

Calving
Ease
Birth
Weight
Weaning
Weight
Yearling
Weight
RADG DMI Scrotal
Circ.
Docility Claw Angle Carcass
Weight
Marbling REA Fat HPG Mat
Calving
Ease
Milk Mature
Weight
Mature
Height
CBI
Average EPDs for all Black Calves born in 2020 Click for Percentiles 
Average EPDs for all Red and Red Carrier Calves born in 2020 Click for Percentiles 
EPD +3.4
+2.5
+2.1
+1.2
+49
+37
+86
+64
+0.22
+0.18
+0.72
+0.26
+0.77
+0.60
+16
+12
+0.46
+0.45
+0.48
+0.50
+36
+22
+0.39
+0.24
+0.46
+0.36
+0.015
+0.001
+10
+9
+6.7
+5.1
+22
+23
+52
+35
+0.3
+0.2
+265
+211

Possible Change Table

This table provides EPDs users an estimate of how much an EPD could change based on its accuracy. An YW EPD with a 10% accuracy may change +/- 23 lb as more information on the animal becomes available. In comparison, a YW EPD with a 90% accuracy is within +/- 2.6lb of the animal’s true breeding value for YW. It is possible to calculate more accurate EPDs when there is more performance, pedigree, progeny and genomic information available on an animal. The higher the EPD accuracy, the more confidence the producer can have in it.

Possible-Change-Table-2019-v3

Commercial buyers rely on EPDs to make their purchasing decisions

Producers that do not have EPDs for their animals often lose out on selling their animals because of this. Buying an animal with EPDs provides a genetic snapshot of an animal’s breeding potential. While appearance and pedigree should be considered, EPDs allow a fair comparison of breeding value by removing environmental bias such as climate, feed and special management.

Depending on your target market, you can improve your herd by selecting for the right traits. Choosing a bull with high growth EPDs, in particular, the weaning weight EPD, means more pounds at sale time. Looking at the EPDs of a prospective bull is essentially just as important as looking at specifications of an engine when buying farm machinery or vehicles.

To evaluate seedstock, use a combination of EPDs, pedigree and visual assessment. With EPDs, the concept of “intermediate optimums” works best.

Selection for one trait or for extremes generally results in unexpected consequences due to genetic correlation. For example, intense selection for high yearling weight will also increase birth weight. Successful cattle breeding requires a thoughtful and balanced approach to optimize fertility, growth and carcass merit while improving profitability and efficiency. EPDs are the best tool we currently have to compare animals between herds and countries.

The quality of your EPDs also reflects the quality of data that comes into the office. Taking pride in your paperwork increases error-free data entry. Submitting your data on time or early eliminates the chances of receiving a Missing Data Report and your animals subsequently not getting EPDs due to non-compliance.

To ensure that your animals receive EPDs you must:

  • Enroll in the Performance Program
  • Submit weaning weights on all of your animals
  • Ensure your animals are within the acceptable age ranges: 120–280 days for weaning weights (WW) and 290–440 days for yearling weights (YW) for all Angus animals
  • Animals that are in a management group of their own, such as twins, fosters, ET calves and lone bull calves are automatically placed into a single animal contemporary group and will not receive EPDs until they are parents to performance-recorded progeny or genotyped.

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