Today's commercial bull buyers are looking for not only calving ease and growth, but also for bulls that will transmit improved carcass characteristics. In general, commercial cow-calf producers can make the most genetic progress in lowly heritable traits such as fertility and weaning weight, by crossbreeding. But since breeds have different average performance, base years and evaluation procedures, direct comparison of expected progeny differences from different breeds can be extremely misleading. Fortunately improved across-breed EPDs allow producers to more easily compare sire capabilities from breed to breed. To date, researchers have completed the programming for the
growth traits, including maternal milk. In the works are multi-breed calving ease EPDs and multi-breed carcass trait EPDs.

"The opportunity to select sires from many breeds by their carcass merit defined on the same basis should excite anyone," says Jerry Lipsey, executive vice-president of the American Simmental Association. "All breeds have sires that are exceptional, and the mechanism to compare them directly in the same database would put our commercial producers in a much better position to satisfy the growing intensity of value-based marketing."