The first Hereford genetic evaluation that includes cattle from more than one continent has been released. To increase overseas marketing opportunities for Hereford breeders and strengthen the genetic evaluation, the American Hereford Association (AHA) worked closely with Hereford organizations in Uruguay, Canada and Argentina and created the Pan-American Cattle Evaluation (PACE).
“The intent of this evaluation is to broaden the horizons for Hereford breeders between continents,” says Jack Ward, AHA chief operating officer and director of breed improvement. “This will link the countries and expand marketing opportunities and, thus, allow for more linkage as common genetics will be used throughout North and South America. U.S. breeders could market semen to large South American herds and get bulls proven in large contemporary groups.”
Jerry Huth, AHA Board member and chairman of the breed improvement committee, explains, “PACE demonstrates the aggressiveness of the Hereford breed in recognizing the benefits of identifying genetic potential of Hereford cattle throughout the entire Pan-American area.”
The PACE project has been in development since 2004. AHA staff and Board members are excited about this new bi-continental evaluation because it will allow breeders to compare their cattle to a wider population.
Craig Huffhines, AHA chief executive officer, says, “PACE poses an immediate advantage for North American Hereford genetics in export marketing opportunities.” This is because Uruguay’s cow herd of about 3 million cows is 80% Hereford. Also, Huffhines explains, Uruguay has a strong, active and progressive Hereford association. Furthermore, Argentina’s resources, including cow numbers of nearly 50 million of predominantly British breed cows, along with global export beef opportunities could generate tremendous trade potential, provided its government policies become less protectionist.
U.S. Hereford breeder Jack Holden, Valier, Mont., visited both Uruguay and Argentina during the development process of PACE. He has sold semen to Uruguay and is excited about even more opportunities to market Herefords overseas because of PACE. He says, “Now our customers can feel even better about comparing data between countries, and with the combined evaluation, a bull’s offspring from all four countries will be included in the evaluation, adding even more strength to the data.”
All these benefits come with little to no change in U.S. breeders’ numbers, says Stacy Sanders, AHA director of records. “The correlations are pretty high across the board, or we wouldn’t have gone ahead with the combined evaluation. There’s no real change in any parameters, like heritabilities or adjustment factors. The only real change that we’re implementing is the addition of data from Uruguay and Argentina.”
Huth summarizes, “There are two main benefits of PACE: 1) allows breeders to identify animals that can complement their operation and create genetic diversity within the Hereford breed; and 2) allows breeders to showcase their genetics to a larger audience.”
PACE is also one step closer to a global Hereford genetic evaluation, which is something that has been discussed at length at World Hereford Council meetings, and feasibility studies have been commissioned. “This is a stepping stone to creating a global genetic evaluation where traits of all Hereford cattle can be compared in some standard format,” Huth says.
And thanks to PACE, Holden says, “The whole business is turning into more and more of a global marketplace.”