by Emme Troendle
“In the first few decades of national cattle evaluation, universities performed evaluations for the beef industry. The universities largely underwrote the research and development, establishing the software and the methodology to advance genetic evaluation for the beef breeds,” said Wade Shafer, CEO of ASA, when asked about the origins of International Genetics Solutions (IGS). “In the mid 2000s, DNA became the focus for universities, and traditional genetic evaluation wasn’t an emphasis for universities any longer.”
In 2010, ASA and the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) coalesced around the goal of better serving the commercial industry through genetic evaluation — the result was International Genetics Solutions (IGS). Today, IGS is a collaboration of 12 progressive breed associations that have put self-interest aside to focus on the needs of the commercial cattle producer.
With over 16,000,000 total animals and 340,000+ new animals added annually, IGS has the largest genetic evaluation for beef cattle in the world — a system that provides commercial producers with the most powerful and user-friendly selection tools that have ever existed.
IGS partners provide EPDs on animals of virtually all breeds and breed combinations using the same common base — allowing commercial producers to directly compare the genetic merit of animals regardless of breed composition; and Economic Selection Indexes that assist the commercial cattlemen through blending EPDs and economics to estimate an animal’s impact on the cattleman’s bottom line.
“There is no question that you can accomplish more by working together. Nevertheless, in the breed association world, the level of collaboration has traditionally been somewhere between barely breathing and dead. That said, few if any commercial producers would disagree that our industry would be better served through increased levels of collaboration — IGS is an outgrowth of that sentiment,” said Shafer.