The Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) and Pfizer Animal Health have partnered to provide more reliable genetic predictions for RAAA members and their commercial customers. Breeders can now take advantage of genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs) powered by the High-Density 50K (HD 50K) platform from Pfizer Animal Genetics.
“One of our primary goals is to provide reliable, accurate genetic descriptions on our members’ cattle to assist in their endeavor of making selection and mating decisions to further increase profitability,” says Larry Keenan, director of breed improvement, RAAA. “DNA technology is proving to be very useful in describing an animal’s genetics, especially on yearling bulls, which can add confidence in selecting younger animals.”
HD 50K for Red Angus provides genomic predictions for 13 economically important traits, including calving ease; growth and efficiency; maternal performance; and carcass yield and quality. By adding HD 50K information to the RAAA National Cattle Evaluation, Red Angus breeders and their customers gain access to more dependable predictions of genetic merit for young, unproven Red Angus seedstock and enhance the scope of selection for difficult, time-consuming and hard-to-measure traits such as feed efficiency.
While DNA technology is powerful, it’s most useful when incorporated into EPD calculations, Keenan says.
“It’s critical that this information gets put into a language that’s understood by commercial producers,” Keenan says. “Our role in the relationship with Pfizer Animal Health is to take the information from the DNA test and incorporate it into our EPD calculations — translating it to a language that people already understand, trust and have been using for decades.”
Scott Bormann, business director, Pfizer Animal Genetics, says GE-EPDs powered by HD 50K can help breeders and commercial users of Red Angus genetics more accurately identify the best young sire prospects based on their individual situations.
“We applaud the RAAA for bringing this advancement to breeders and their customers,” Bormann says. “Not only can breeders better determine a young bull’s genetic merit, but GE-EPDs powered by HD 50K also can help more dependably predict the genetic value of cows and prospective replacement heifers, enabling a lifetime of wiser mating decisions.”
Results will be reported as GE-EPDs, associated accuracies and HD 50K percentile ranks. These percentile ranks are associated with molecular breeding values and benchmarked against nearly 8,000 animals tested with HD 50K in the database at Pfizer Animal Health. The percentile ranks are reported to the nearest 1% and are interpreted identical to historically reported percent ranks for EPDs. Lower percentile rankings generally indicate more favorable genetic merit for most traits.
By incorporating HD 50K into the RAAA EPDs, breeders will be able to take advantage of the versatility and flexibility that comes with using a 54,000-marker panel, Bormann says.
“This platform allows for the addition of new traits, while providing more coverage across the full range of existing traits for current and future predictions, as well as parentage verification — all from a single sample and for a single price,” he explains.
Additionally, while the GE-EPDs powered by HD 50K are geared for Red Angus cattle, the predictions were derived and validated using Pfizer Animal Health and RAAA domestic and international, Red and Black Angus genotypes and population resources. Therefore, Bormann says, this test can be used on Angus animals of both colors from a variety of geographic regions.
Breeders interested in gaining GE-EPDs powered by HD 50K can contact their Pfizer Animal Health or RAAA representative, or visit the Pfizer Animal Genetics website for more information. For more information about genomic testing, visit LearnCattleGenetics.com.