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IGS Changes and Updates in the Last Year

By Randie Culbertson, Ph.D., Lead Geneticist for International Genetic Solutions

Times are a changin’. Nothing encompasses that phrase more than 2020! In the midst of a pandemic this has been a year of major change; from schools adapting their curriculum to working from home to remembering to wear a mask when walking into a business. This year has put our ability to cope with change to the test. I don’t know about you, but I would be happy with a lot less change. When I think of change in the context of a genetic evaluation, I have a different attitude. Genetic evaluations should be changing as advancements in theory and technology become available. The IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation is no different. The evaluation is always evolving as we strive to provide better tools for genetic selection for your herd. The following are the updates we have made to the evaluation in the last year. Some of these updates were minor while other updates were bigger with larger implications on the evaluation.

IGS changes and updates in the last year:

September 2019:

  • A partnership with IGS and Neogen® was established.
  •  Additional pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) records were sent to Colorado State University for the development of a PAP EPD.
  • Lauren Hyde began cross-training to prepare for her retirement

October 2019:

  • I was hired to replace Lauren Hyde.
  • First IGS advisory meeting held in Bozeman, Montana.
  • The progeny equivalent table was updated.
  • North American South Devon Association and American Salers Association submitted data to begin testing to eventually enter the IGS evaluation.

The process of new partners submitting data for testing is often referred to as beta testing. This process allows us to ensure that new partners are submitting their data in the correct format and allow us to examine the effect (if any) to the evaluation of the new influx of data. The EPDs from the test are released to the new partners for review. This process helps us minimize any potential disruptions to the live evaluation.

November 2019:

  • I moved to Bozeman and began work at ASA.
  • Lauren and I worked together to begin the transition for Lauren’s retirement.

December 2019:

  • IGS released guidelines and recommendations for the collection of feet and leg scores.
  • Hyde transitioned into retirement on December 31, 2019.

February 2020:

  • The IGS science team began validation testing for updates to the growth evaluation referred to as Work Order 1 (WO1).
  • Updated the carcass evaluation breed adjustments for “American Breeds” (i.e. Brangus, Santa Gertrudis) using USMARC data.

 March 2020:

  • External EPDs for Herefords were updated.

April 2020:

  • The release of the PAP EPD from Colorado State University. EPD for PAP will be released twice a year.

May 2020:

  • Five new breed categories (South Devon, Salers, Charolais, Holstein, and Jersey) were added to the evaluation.
  • The North American South Devon Association and American Salers Association published IGS EPDs.
  • Beta testing for an updated genomic data preparation (GGP) began.

June 2020:

  • Canadian Charolais Association submitted data to begin beta testing.
  • Beta testing was conducted to expand ultrasound age requirements for Australian and New Zealand cattle. New scan ages have not been implemented into the live evaluation pending further investigation by the IGS science team.

July 2020:

  • After a thorough review of WO1 validation results, the IGS science team decided to transition to WO1 for the growth evaluation.
  • Two sets of WO1 beta test EPDs were released to partners. • Beta testing for new IGS partners was suspended until the implementation of WO1 was completed.

August 2020:

  • The implementation of WO1 updates went into the live evaluation August 11, 2020, and EPDs were released to partners. The new GGP was released with the WO1 updates.

The IGS evaluation is unique in its partnership with so many breed associations around the world but this uniqueness brings about challenges. These challenges are why the IGS science team is diligently working to improve and update the evaluation. It has been a busy and exciting time at IGS and I’m looking forward to the challenges this next year will bring. 

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