One of the most complex and rapidly advancing components of the beef industry can be found tangled in the matrix of genetic evaluations and improvement. But in order for this intricate technology to be broken down from high caliber thought processes to applicable practices to be put into use on beef operations, it must be translated by minds who speak both the languages of the scientific community and the cattle producer.
Enter Larry Keenan, of Sulphur, Okla.
For 11 years, he’s been building a career in genetic evaluations, predictions and breed improvement for the Red Angus Association of America.
A ranch kid from a cow-calf operation in Oklahoma, Keenan has understood at an early age the importance of genetic evaluation technology and the ability to put it into practice. While working towards an undergrad at Kansas State University and a masters at Oklahoma State University, Keenan attributes to being mentored by David Buchanan and Dan Moser to his growth in the genetic world.
“I had always been intrigued in just the overall breeding of animals in the effort to make the next generation better than the current,” he said. “And the idea of developing tools and implementing new technology to allow us to do a better job of making a new generation.”
After receiving his masters, Keenan took employment with RAAA as director of breed improvement, where he’s been for the last nine years. But make no mistake, Keenan is much more than a production middleman, and has successfully guided the breed in the implantation of carcass quality programs through the association, genomic enhancement technology for Expected Progeny Differences, which includes the ability for commercial cattlemen to capitalize on the Genomic testing to evaluate their production females.
“Ultimately, my responsibility is oversight of our genetic predictions. So that would include current tools as well as the development of new tools that would deliver to commercial producers to help make better selection decisions in order to achieve overall goals of operation,” he said.
Keenan’s contributions to the beef industry reach much further than the RAAA, serving on numerous industry committees, most notable the Beef Improvement Federation Board of Directors and playing a key role in the development of MultiBreed Evaluation.
When asked where he sees the future of his career in genetic improvement going, he is most excited about the continual advancements of evaluation tools and the application of the new technology.
“I’m looking forward to that, and I think it will really propel ability to meet food challenge,” he said. “Because our breeders will be better at making better genetic selection decisions.”
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Farm Journal Media’s 40 Under 40 Awards recognize youngleaders in our industry who will be instrumental in meeting the2050 challenge. We are once again seeking the most innovativepeople in agriculture under the age of 40 – from animal and cropproduction, biotechnology and University researchers, to food andnutrition technology, agricultural equipment, agronomy and beyond.