From the Winter 2001 issue of the Isa Informer

Information enhances genetics

By Brandon R. Pilcik
BBU Director of Services

Genetic improvement strategies for beef cattle production have taken many forms over the years. For a time, the “eyeball” technique was the only accepted and available method for making selection decisions. Fortunately, cattle breeders have embraced an information “revolution” of sorts, fueling progress in genetic improvement and commercial acceptability.

The selection tools available to today’s breeder are not only impressive, they are essential. Competitive producers can now reap greater rewards than ever before by incorporating objective measurements into their selection decisions. From the cow/calf producer to the stocker operator, to the feedyard, to the packer, to the retail store, and on to the consumer, documented performance information is driving change and providing breeders with tools for profit.

The initial concept for utilizing performance information involved charting growth performance in specific breeds. This opened the door for the development of genetic predictions in the form of Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs). Beefmaster seedstock providers and those who utilize Beefmaster genetics in commercial scenarios have the opportunity to use these genetic predictions to compare animals fairly from different herds, years and locations. From a population standpoint, this information is a vital tool in making genetic improvement, because it truly is effective. Down the road, additional tools such as DNA and ultrasound information will play a greater role in assisting breeders in making effective mating decisions.

As challenging as today’s marketplace can be at times, both seedstock and commercial breeders are hungry to achieve greater efficiency in the quest for higher returns. Recent advances in genetic prediction methodologies have translated into greater accuracy and less risk in the area of genetic management. Most importantly, Beefmaster cattlemen are becoming more involved and vigilant in collecting, reporting, and utilizing standardized performance records as tools for genetic improvement. As a result of this determination, Beefmaster breeders are developing a more objective description of Beefmaster cattle in general.

For more information regarding performance data, genetic prediction technology, and Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) breed improvement programs, call the BBU office at (210) 732 3132.

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