Hereford introduces genomic-enhanced EPDs

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The American Hereford Association (AHA) is the first beef breed to develop and market its own genomic predictions.

The AHA approach is the first of its kind to work with the scientific community and the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) to build its own training and validation population. This approach is important because AHA now has access to all of the genotypes, phenotypes and pedigrees, which will allow the Association and its members to continue to train and build the Hereford-specific panel.

Today more than 1,200 Herefords have been 50k genotyped and eight sires whole-genome sequenced. This population has been used to train and validate the Hereford-specific panel. Dorian Garrick, Iowa State University Lush Chair in animal breeding and genetics and NBCEC executive director, has led the research and development.

According to Garrick AHA took a pro-active approach testing and validating the tools available to make sure when releasing a Hereford genomic product it was reliable and useful to AHA members. During this process the Association aligned itself with researchers and worked collaboratively with the NCBEC, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat Animal Research Center and other global Hereford associations.

In late June AHA transitioned its DNA testing to GeneSeek Inc. located in Lincoln, Neb. With this move, Hereford breeders have the option to utilize a 50k panel to obtain genomic information to enhance the accuracy of Hereford expected progeny differences (EPDs). The genomic information obtained is blended with conventional EPDs to produce genomic-enhanced EPDs (GE-EPDs). GE-EPDs are available on all traits reported by the AHA.

“The Association’s role is to give our members tools to make improvement in beef production,” Jack Ward, AHA chief operating officer and director of breed improvement, says. “Genomic-enhanced EPDs are the next phase in breed improvement strategies that will allow our members to continue to improve the genetics they produce. GE-EPDs will allow Hereford producers to make even more accurate and more rapid genetic improvement.”

Today producers can find animals with GE-EPDs by visiting Hereford.org. In the “EPD Search” section of the site, producers can search for animals with GE-EPDs. Animals with genomic information collected will have a GE-EPD logo below their EPD profile on the details screen.

“Although the process to get to Hereford GE-EPDs has taken time, the process developed by AHA will greatly benefit the Association and members for years to come,” Garrick says. “AHA is the first beef cattle breed association to develop and market its own genomic predictions, and with this process in place, the Hereford breed will be able to continually add to its training data and improve the accuracy of Hereford genomic predictions.”

For more information about AHA’s genomic testing, contact Jack Ward at 816-842-3757 or jward@hereford.org.



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