Making EPDs Understandable

– Jason Duggin, Dylan Davis, and Pedro Fontes, University of Georgia Beef Team

EPDs were designed to use in the comparison between two individual animals.

Expected progeny differences (EPD) are essential tools in the beef industry. Thus, it is important to understand their basic usage in beef herds. By utilizing the following key steps, EPDs can be readily understood. Let’s overview the following three steps to better understand how to use them effectively.

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Where Do We Go from Here?

It’s a good time to be in the cattle business.

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to speak at several field days across Ohio and during these events have had many conversations regarding the current state of beef industry.

A sampling of those questions include “Should I grow my cow herd by retaining xxx many more heifers?”, “How has the Western drought impacted beef production in Ohio?”, or “How can I make adjustments in my current production system to improve efficiency with the cow herd?”

Those are all good questions and help to confirm my thoughts, that the best teaching opportunities are often on farms where we can generate discussions between producers.

While I can work through those questions with producers, it certainly helps to Continue reading

Data That Delivers

– Jason Duggin, Beef Cattle Specialist, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences – University of Georgia

Imagine a business that didn’t track its inputs or its outputs. Obviously, that would be a bad scenario. The demand for information is rapidly increasing when it comes to all sectors of the beef chain from commercial cow-calf to retail. The digital age we currently live in combined with genomic testing has streamlined selection and marketing to a speed that even now seems almost fictional. Inputs and outputs are the future of the industry and for all progressive cattle producers.

Retailers of all sizes are delving into marketing that connects consumers to the farm. As you may expect, large retailers can already scan a bag of lettuce and tell what farm it came from. If the thought of that makes you nervous, I don’t blame you. However, the pros may outweigh the cons for most. Some leaders in the retail segment are looking ahead to a time when consumers can scan a QR code on a package of ribeye steaks to learn about the ranch or farm that it originated from. At least as of this writing, people will pay for that kind of story. Restaurants are increasingly promoting premium known-source menu items. You may also hear the term Blockchain which is a digital record of transactions from start to finish.

If scenarios like this seem too far-fetched, that is understandable, but regardless of how far we take our marketing, the information we provide to the next person in the beef chain can make . . .

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Plan Now for Tenth Annual OCA Replacement Female Sale

This year’s sale will be held on November 25 in Zanesville

The 2022 date for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) tenth annual Replacement Female Sale will be Friday evening, November 25. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Co. in Zanesville, Ohio and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The tenth edition of OCA Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of January 1, 2023 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory. Analysis must be performed within 60 days of sale. Consignments will also be fulfilling of specific health requirements.

Why discuss a sale that is several months away? The middle of the Continue reading

Selecting Your Next Herd Sire

Brooks Warner, OSU Extension Educator, Scioto County

We are in bull sale season and many of you are looking for a new herd sire.

Before making sire selections, I encourage you to ask yourself, “What are my operation’s goals?” and select your next herd sires with your operation goals in mind. Operations should buy the bulls you need and not the bulls you want.

Wanting to go for the stylish bull, the thickest bull and/or the biggest weaning and yearling weights is easy. However, beauty is (sometimes) only hide deep, and single-trait selection is never a good idea.

For most operations, the main goal is profitability, and a few different aspects come together to help you achieve a profitable beef herd. Some of the most important aspects of the profitable beef herd equation are:

  • Live calves
  • Fertile, easy keeping, productive cows
  • Optimal performance at the farm and ranch, in the feed yard, on the rail and on the consumer’s plate

Sire selection should be a combination of Continue reading

Don’t Let Tradition Impede Progress

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

“No matter how your Granddaddy or your Daddy did it, if you are trying to do exactly like you did last year you are probably wrong.

If you’re trying to farm like you did last year you are probably wrong. Unless you did it wrong last year, and that might be the case. Then maybe you get it right this year because every year is different.”

The above quote was one of the many valuable pieces of insight during our 2022 Beef Outlook webinar taught by Dr. Andrew Griffith, Associate Professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee. You can find the recording on the OSU Extension Beef Team YouTube page.

That thought really stuck me as timely. We know fertilizer, seed, feed, and chemical inputs are going to cost more for the foreseeable future. Inflation and increasing interest rates are daily discussion topics. Weather continues to be a wild card, not just with drought in the west but with excess moisture here at home. Even though commodity prices look favorable, especially cattle and beef, it is borderline insanity to Continue reading

Adding Value to the Calf Crop Through Reproductive Technology

– Dr. Pedro Fontes, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, University of Georgia

A companion article by Dr. Fluharty in this newsletter highlights the changes in carcass quality that have observed in the beef industry, where over the last couple of decades, our industry has substantially increased the proportion of carcasses grading Choice and Prime. More importantly, while the proportion of superior carcasses have increased, the consumer demand for a higher quality product continues to grow. Cow-calf producers have traditionally struggled to capture value when marketing calves with superior genetics for terminal traits. However, today, this scenario is changing.Cattlemen that produce genetically superior calves that will perform well in the feedlot and produce superior carcasses can take advantage of value-based marketing opportunities to differentiate themselves and add value to their calf crop.

Artificial insemination (AI) is currently the most effective way to rapidly introduce superior terminal genetics into commercial beef herds and consequently increase the genetic merit of the calf crop for carcass-related traits. Cattle producers that utilize AI benefit from the widespread . . .

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2021 OCA Replacement Female Sale Results

– Garth Ruff, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) held their ninth annual Replacement Female Sale on November 26 at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company in Zanesville, Ohio. A large crowd was on hand to bid on 80 high quality females in the sale. The sale represented an excellent opportunity for cow-calf producers to add quality females with documented breeding and health records to their herds.

Buyers evaluated 80 lots of bred heifers and bred cows at the auction. The sale included 56 lots of bred heifers that averaged $1,701, and 24 lots of bred cows that averaged $2,155. The 80 total lots grossed $152,875 for an overall average of $1,910. The females sold to buyers from Ohio and West Virginia. Col. Ron Kreis served as the auctioneer.

Sales prices for quality females were slightly higher year over year, as the 2021 sale represented a $66 per head price increase over the Continue reading

Ninth Annual OCA Replacement Female Sale this Friday

Selling bred heifers, cows and pairs, all less than 5 years old.

This is the final reminder to attend the ninth annual Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale.  The sale will be held this Friday, November 26, at the Muskingum Livestock facility located at 944 Malinda Street in Zanesville and will begin at 6:00 p.m. This sale represents an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to add quality young replacement females to their herd.

Approximately 42 bred heifers, 33 bred cows and cow/calf pairs are being offered at this year’s sale. Females selling will have pregnancy status verified within 60 days of sale and are eligible for interstate shipment. Breeds represented include Continue reading

Expected Progeny Differences and their Accuracy

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This article is a condensed version of material written by M. Spangler. See Beef Sire Selection Manual 3rd Edition, page 19-20

Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) and have been proven to be the most reliable tool to generate change from selection.  Expected Progeny Differences are predictions of genetic merit of an individual as a parent. As the name would imply, they are predictions of the differences in individuals’ offspring performance. Historically, most beef breed associations conducted a genetic evaluation twice annually, meaning that EPD were updated twice a year. However, with the advent of genomic information, new data are continually available. This has necessitated weekly genetic evaluations, and thus updated EPD are available on a weekly basis for the majority of beef cattle breeds.

How Do You Use EPD?

Simply knowing an animal’s EPD for a given trait has no meaning without something to compare it to. This comparison can be between animals or an animal and a point of reference, such as the Continue reading