Fall Focus 2016: Teaming Technology with Tradition


By Jackie Atkins, PhD.

Roughly 175 American Simmental Association members, academics, allied industry representatives, IGS partners and breeders joined the ASA staff and trustees for a day-long educational event in Bozeman, MT recently. The theme of the day was leveraging technology to enhance the tradition of breeding seedstock beef cattle.

Dale Miller, ASA Board of Trustees Chairman, kicked off the educational session, greeting the participants of the event. Dr. Patrick Hatfield, Montana State University (MSU), spoke about beef cattle research at MSU; Drs. Wade Shafer, Lauren Hyde, Jackie Atkins, discussed the history of genetic evaluation at the ASA and shared the basic principles controlling the speed of genetic progress. After a short break, Dr. Mahdi Saatchi, the lead genomicist for IGS- recently hired at ASA, discussed the multitude of ways genomic information could improve the beef industry by more precisely predicting an animal’s genetic merit and pedigree.

Dr. Bruce Golden, part owner of Theta Solutions and a key person behind BOLT, explained how Theta Solutions takes the data, new hardware, and new computer programs to better use genomic information and IGS’s massive animal records to glean the most out of the
genomic and phenotypic data. Afterword, Dr. Dorian Garrick from Iowa State University added to the discussion about what we can learn from genomic information using human examples from “23 and me” (https://www.23andme.com/) as well as the current status of the IGS genomics and genetic evaluation. Dr. Jared Decker from the University of Missouri, writer of the Steak in Genomics (http://blog.steakgenomics.org/), focused on using science and technology to make better breeding and selection decisions to ensure long term sustainability of beef cattle  operations. The audience heard from Micah Wells, Sales Director for Neogen/Geneseek, and Nevil Speer with AgriClear, two corporate sponsors of the event. Each gave a spotlight on the products available to breeders from their respective companies.

The day concluded with a prime rib feast in the courtyard of the Holiday Inn. Attendees
lingered long into the night around tables, sitting in the grass, and hanging out by the pool.

Visit www.FallFocus.org to view the videos.


Thank you to all who attended this event. Thank you for being engaged in the discussion of
improving selection decisions using the best available technology. Thank you for traveling to Bozeman to learn from others, to let your voice be heard, and to reconnect with the ASA family.  Fall Focus 2016 was a great success and we look forward to seeing everyone in North Dakota for Fall Focus 2017!Thank you to our Fall Focus 2016 sponsors!
AgriClear Inc.
Trinity Farms

Mark Barnell
Lanting Enterprises
Gibbs Farms

Accelerated Genetics