The State of Angus Genetics
By Julie Mais
Great strides have been made in Angus genetics, but the future continues to hold more opportunity for Angus breeders to advance their breeding programs and those of their customers.
“We have added value, product quality, improved performance an efficiency simultaneously,” said Dan Moser, Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) president, at the Angus Genomics Symposium sponsored by Neogen Nov. 3, 2018, during the fifth annual Angus Convention in Columbus, Ohio. “We will continue to move forward on that path to help you grow your business and grow your customers.”
Moser said Angus breeders might take for granted the genetic progress made and assume every other part of the cattle business has done the same. “The gap is widening,” he said. “We bent the growth curve more dramatically than any other part of the beef business.
Angus breeders know the value of Angus genetics, and their commercial cattlemen customers are getting some of that value, according to Moser, who noted the new Angus LinkSM program is tasked with growing value for Angus customers. “We want them to get a bigger piece of pie they’ve earned with the genetics you’ve helped put into their herds.”
When it comes to the Angus genetic evaluation, Moser said the phenotypic data from Angus breeders is just as important as the methodology and technology used to run the evaluation.
The single-step evaluation has been run more than 60 times, and Moser said it’s working well for breeders. “But just as important are the nine million weaning weights, two million ultrasound records and largest feed intake database for pedigree cattle available,” Moser said. “Continued commitment to phenotypic measurement from breeders is what’s going to drive this forward.”
Moser said innovation is why AGI was created. By building the most comprehensive genomic database, accuracies of the genetic evaluation can be improved. Moser shared the Angus Genome Project was recently approved by the American Angus Association Board of Directors. “There’s been lots of genome sequencing going on,” Moser said. “But we want that information to come together in your building with your people so we can use that information for your benefit.”
The project has acquired sequences on almost 100 animals and parts of 3,000 with sequencing projects going into the project.
Addressing voiced needs of the membership, Moser said AGI is working to improve accuracies of lowly heritable traits and for cattlemen in the high-altitude country wishing to address brisket disease, a Pulmonary Arterial Pressure (PAP) expected progeny difference (EPD) will be released in January 2019.
“Something we talked about for a long time is the important of cow longevity records,” Moser said. “We can attack, improve and grow the maternal traits of the Angus cow, but we need the data.” That’s what the MaternalPlus® program is all about.
MaternalPlus is an inventory-based recording system that allows Angus breeders to update the Association on which cows stay in the herd and which ones don’t. “This information is very important to your customers,” Moser said. “An incentive program was created to increase participation in MaternalPlus. We appreciate the commitment of the breeders who are a part of that.”
With new technologies, comes the need for education. “We understand this technology has no value if you are not in the position to take advantage of it,” Moser said. “We want to double our efforts to help breeders better utilize these tools.”
Click here to view Dr. Moser's slide show presentation.