Contemporary Groups: Learn the Basics

By Briley Richard | American Angus Association

An animal’s performance is the combination of its genetics + environment. The use of proper contemporary groups is necessary to separate the effects of genetics from environment. Contemporary groups serve as a cornerstone of genetic evaluation, account for the effects of environment and management and allow fair comparisons based on genetic merit.  


What is a contemporary group? 

A contemporary group is a set of cattle that have had equal opportunity to perform starting from birth. 


Cattle in the same birth contemporary group must be: 

  • the same sex 
  • of similar age (90-day birth window) 
  • the same birth type (natural vs. embryo-transfer) 
  • managed alike with the same group code 
  • within similar environmental conditions 
  • fed the same resources (grain, mineral, roughage, etc.) 


  • Only two animals are needed for a contemporary group for most traits, but the more cattle properly grouped together, the better.  
  • Contemporary groups start from birth and a group will never be larger than the birth group. 
  • When and how data is submitted matters when creating contemporary groups. 
  • Good, robust EPDs depend on accurate contemporary groups. 


Esther McCabe, American Angus Association® director of performance programs, was featured on a recent Angus University webinar to discuss contemporary groups. To listen to Esther elaborate about the value of contemporary groups and how to implement them, watch the webinar recording below.  


Recording | 


If any questions arise, call the Association at 816-383-5100. The staff is happy to help and guide you to resources to aid in your success.

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