NDSU Extension - Williams County


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January 18, 2016

Maternal Breed Indexes


NDSU Extension Beef Specialist, Kris Ringwall, recently wrote an article about Maternal Breed Indexes. The article was featured in North Dakota State Universities BeefTalk: Visit Your Breed Association Website for Maternal Breed Indexes. Ringwall states that the hidden treasures for beef producers are the various breed association websites. These websites help ranchers understand the performance of cattle available within each breed. One newer addition to sire (male) summaries is a selection index, which is available from several breed associations. This index allows cattle producers to select bulls based on multiple traits through the single expected progeny difference (EPD) value. North Dakota State University Extension Service has an information publication out called; Understanding Expected Progeny Differences for Genetic Improvement in Commercial Beef Herds. You can get to that article by going to the following site https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1770.pdf or contacting the Williams County Extension office at 577-4595.

The bull registration numbers are the keys to opening the doors to a lot of information and provide a simple approach to review these available selection indexes within a breed. The indexes help group various traits, establish a relative importance for each trait and present the answer as a single EPD value for a particular bull for that particular trait. The index should correlate with your herd production or financial goals and combine performance records with economic weights, then generate a selection index value. As with all EPD values, without producer goals and objectives, consistent and repeated selection criteria will not be achieved. Producers need to research the various indexes available and make sure that the selection end point matches their herd goals.

This might sound like it is a challenge for those that have never used EPD values before but they do work. Below is an example that is noted in the publication:

  • The American Angus Association Weaned Calf Value ($W), an index value expressed in dollars per head, is the expected average difference in future progeny performance for preweaning merit. The $W index includes revenue and cost adjustments associated with differences in birth weight, weaning direct growth, maternal milk and mature cow size.

Ringwall wants to make sure producers know that indexes are great tools, provided the producer has a long-term objective and bulls are selected to meet that objective over time. The article from North Dakota State Universities BeefTalk can be found at the following site https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/columns/beeftalk/beeftalk-visit-your-breed-association-website-for-maternal-breed-indexes.


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