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Genetic Evaluation Improvements set to be Implemented July 12, 2020

July 2, 2020

Many of you participated in the Whole Cow Herd DNA project, which netted over 10,000 genotypes. This project allowed our science team to better understand the genomic contributions and relationships of the markers impacting maternal traits such as Sustained Cow Fertility (SCF), Calving Ease Maternal (CEM) and Milk (M). Currently, when an animal is genotyped there is no genomic contribution to the aforementioned traits and, thus, no improvement in accuracy. With the submission of female genotypes, the American Hereford Association (AHA) now has the data to take this needed step.

Starting July 12, 2020, the genomic component will be added for SCF, CEM and M. As a result, animals will receive increased accuracies as well as improved predictions for each of these traits. Some changes for these specific expected progeny differences (EPDs) will be noted, particularly for nonparent animals without production data in regard to maternal traits. Adding the genomic component to SCF, CEM and M is great step forward in determining a sire’s maternal ability earlier in life, opposed to waiting until he has daughters in production for results.

Beyond adding the genomic component to the SCF model, the handling of contemporary groups in that model will be restructured. In the current model, all daughters of a sire are compared across the breed to one another. In the new SCF model, the herd will be fit for comparison and, consequently, the new analysis will factor in environment more suitably.

Because of this improvement, you may see changes in SCF values for some proven sires, although the correlation to the current and new SCF models is 0.70. Given SCF is a significant driver for the Baldy Maternal Index and the Brahman Influence Index, some animals will move ranks in their respective indices.

In regard to the model updates for CEM and M, breeders should note minimal changes as a whole with the genomic component being added. In fact, the overall correlations comparing the current production run to the updated run with the genomic component added is 0.98 for both models.