American Salers Association Genetic Evaluation Explanation

By Will MacDonald
American Salers Association

Over the past 25 years, Expected Progeny Differences (EPD’s) have come to be the primary tool that producers use to compare weight performance and other measurable traits between individual animals in order to predict which animals are going to best satisfy the goals of the producer’s breeding program. The advent of genomics (using DNA information to identify some of the actual genes in an animal’s makeup and incorporating that information into EPD’s) has brought major changes to the EPD landscape for much of the beef industry over the past 10 years. Up to this time, Salers cattle have not had genomic data incorporated into their EPD’s. That is about to change within the next few months.

A LEAP AHEAD

Not only will genomic data be incorporated into Salers EPD’s where available, but the Salers breed is joining a group called International Genetic Solutions (IGS). IGS is a consortium of breeds including Simmental, Red Angus, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Salers, South Devon and others. This organization will be calculating EPD’s for all of these breeds using a multi breed genetic evaluation model. What does this mean for Salers EPD’s in the future? One major change will be that Salers EPD’s will be directly comparable to other breeds also evaluated in this multi-breed model. When you look at Simmental, Red Angus, Gelbvieh or Salers EPD’s, you will be looking at directly comparable numbers. It should also be especially useful in improving the accuracy and usefulness of EPD’s for composite cattle (Optimizers). Finally, in the past, new data submitted to the Salers database has been used to recalculate EPD’s one time per year. That will now occur on a weekly basis in the IGS system. You can learn more by visiting the International Genetic Solutions website.

A BRIEF STEP BACKWARDS

As a result of transitioning to the new system there has been no new genetic evaluation done for Salers cattle for the past year. What that means is that the EPD’s in this sale catalog are only pedigree estimates, meaning that the EPD’s were arrived at by adding the EPD’s of the parents together and dividing by 2. The birth weights and weaning weights of each individual bull have not been incorporated into the EPD’s of that animal as they have been in the past. This results in lower accuracy for birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight EPD’s provided in this catalog as compared to years past. My primary concern with this is that if you are going to be breeding first calf heifers you need to look at the birth weight of the bull and put more emphasis on that as opposed to the Birth weight EPD than you would need to in years past. We will of course be very happy to help you with your selections and answer any questions that you might have. We look forward to leaping ahead to the new EPD system by next year!