Bull selection a focus at Cattlemen’s College

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Dr. Kent Anderson, Zoetis associate director of animal genetics, was on hand during the kick-off session of the 2014 Cattlemen’s College at the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn., to talk to a packed house of cattlemen and women about the importance of bull selection when it comes to genetic improvement.

While heifer selection plays an important role in herd improvement, Anderson said bull selection is a primary driver of genetic improvement in a herd.

Before looking at a sale catalog or evaluating potential bulls at a sale, Anderson encouraged producers to first take a step back and evaluate what type of bull is needed most on the operation. From breed to the actual primary use of the bull – be it a high-scoring calving ease bull to use on heifers; a bull to use with replacement heifers; a bull to produce high-growth feeder calves or an all purpose bull for the herd. First it’s important to know what type of bull is needed in order to properly evaluate EPDs and/or genomic enhanced EPDs. Comparing them to Olympic decathletes, Anderson said all-purpose bulls tend to be the most expensive because they have to perform well in multiple areas.

With two full brothers in the arena, Anderson handed Cattlemen’s College attendees handouts with the bulls EPDs and genomic enhanced EPDs. To demonstrate the enhanced selection capabilities that come with genomic enhanced EPDs, Anderson pointed out that while the bulls had identical traditional EPDs based on their parents, but by comparing the genomic enhanced EPDs, it becomes possible to genetically differentiate the bulls for the traits or indexes most important to one’s operation.

Anderson told the crowd they can use genomic enhanced EPDs to make more accurate selection of young bulls. Pointing to the 50K test, which offered by Zoetis and Angus Genetics Inc., and provides genomic enhanced EPDs on a suite of 15 production, efficiency, yield and quality traits, genomic enhanced EPD accuracy equals equivalents of having data on multiple progeny. Anderson encouraged Cattlemen’s College attendees to consider this new technology when it comes time to select new bulls for their operations.

For more information about Cattlemen’s College, visit http://www.beefusa.org/2013cattlemenscollege.aspx.

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