Cattle producers will have an opportunity to learn how expected progeny differences (EPDs) can help them buy the right bulls for their operation during workshops the North Dakota State University Extension Service is holding this winter.

The Buying Bulls by the Numbers workshops will be held Dec. 9, and Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, 2017, at NDSU’s Dickinson Research Extension Center. The same workshop information will be presented at the North Dakota Beef Commission offices in Bismarck on Dec. 16, and Jan. 3 and Feb. 10, 2017.

The workshops will focus on implementing EPDs and DNA in bull selection.

“Our main goal is to provide producers with a hands-on experience on how they can utilize these tools as they look at bull selection and pending purchases,” says workshop host Kris Ringwall, NDSU Extension beef specialist and director of the Dickinson Research Extension Center.

The hands-on discussion is designed to help producers proactively use the data in breed sire summaries. Ringwall will help producers search breed databases to evaluate possible bull purchases using EPDs.

“There is so much information within breed sire summaries that is very useful to help producers develop a cattle production program that fits their management system and environment,” Ringwall says. “The workshop will provide insights into how producers could effectively use the numbers by actually reviewing information from catalogs.”

The major outcome of the Buying Bulls by the Numbers workshop is to have producers study individual bull data to see how EPDs have or will impact their production model.

Participants can see how EPDs relate to direct traits such as weight or size. The workshops also will include discussion on how indirect traits such as milk production can offer further refinement to the selection of breeding stock.

Ringwall will present information on genomics as well.

“The genetics of the beef herd in North Dakota is wide and varied,” he says. “One desired outcome of the workshops is to give producers an insight into how they can utilize genomics in their beef herds.”

The workshop will conclude with a discussion of indexes, which are a new tool that can simplify sire selection.

The workshops are free of charge, but preregistration is required because space at each workshop is limited.

To register, send an email to lee.tisor@ndsu.edu or contact the Dickinson Research Extension Center by phone at 701-456-1105.

Producers who are unable to attend these workshops may contact their local Extension office to see if a similar workshop is being held in their area.