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Genetic Knowledge in Commercial Herds

February 10, 2020 Industry News ASA
Four approaches to genetic awareness | By Chip Kemp, Rachel Endecott, Ph.D. and Jackie Atkins, Ph.D. | Genetic awareness within the commercial beef sector has been a much-discussed topic and an ongoing challenge to make a pervasive reality. Ideally,…

What’s next after single-step genomically-enhanced EPDs?

February 10, 2020 Industry News ASA
On May 5, 2018, ASA published the first full set of new Genomically-Enhanced EPDs (GE-EPDs) generated through the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT. Now it has been more than a year since the first release, and ASA publishes GE-EPDs every…

Focus on the Future. Focus on Profit

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Simmental gains genetic improvement in ERTs from calving ease to stayability and growth to marbling during the past 20 years.

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” — Anonymous “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” — Victor Hugo

Being in the cattle business, one must keep the future in mind with every genetic selection decision. The decision you make on which genetics to use this breeding season could influence your calf crop 15 years from now. That’s in the year 2034! Likewise, the performance we realize today is influenced by decisions made years ago. This article is focusing on the genetic trends in purebred Simmental cattle during the last 20 years to help predict how Simmental cattle will perform in the future.

Figure 1. Genetic improvement in the average EPD of purebred Simmental cattle by birth year. The traits have been standardized so relative change between traits can be compared. The selection pressure in these economically-relevant traits can be seen in the increase in the selection indices ($API and $TI; Figure 2) during a similar duration. An interesting note: Often breeders argue the selection indexes drive away growth, but Figure 2 illustrates an increase in YW EPD along with an increase in $API and $TI.


Figure 2. Change in the average dollar index in purebred Simmental cattle by year of birth for the All Purpose Index ($API; use if keeping replacement heifers) and Terminal Index ($TI; use if all calves will be harvested) and as reference average yearling weight (YW) EPD for the same animals.


The trends show improvements in nearly every trait despite traits being correlated and in opposing (not favorable) directions. Simmental cattle continue to have positive weaning weight and ADG trends, important economically-relevant traits to both cow-calf producers and feedlots. Calving ease has improved greatly as well as marbling. Simmental genetics are getting a bigger piece of the market share in recent years. According to the National Association of Animal Breeders, Simmental is the second highest breed for semen sales. In

the last three years, not only have semen companies sold more units of Simmental semen; additionally, the percentage of all the semen sold in the US from Simmental bulls has grown by 33%. This translates to Simmental getting a bigger piece of the semen-sales pie. Keep up the good work, Simmental breeders! “Every year I wonder what the Association and breeders will accomplish in the future AND at the end of every year, I’m always amazed. Thank you all for this.” — Steve McGuire, COO of the American Simmental Association. 

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