by Lane Giess, Director of Commercial and Nontraditional Data Programs
The commercial programs offered by the American Simmental Association (ASA) are an effort to provide genetic tools to the largest sector of the beef industry— the cattle operations. These efforts are supported through multiple ASA programs and the world’s most comprehensive beef genetic database. The three pillars to ASA Commercial Programs are the: Total Herd Enrollment — Commercial option (THE-CM), Cow Herd DNA Roundup (CHR), and the IGS Feeder Profit CalculatorTM (FPC). These programs allow commercial producers to maximize the genetic awareness surrounding their program and to make better management and selection decisions.
Each of these programs is designed to offer assistance at three key management moments in commercial operations; Breeding, Heifer Selection, and Weaning. This article will briefly dive into how each program functions.
Total Herd Enrollment — Commercial
The THE-CM is the foundation for these programs and allows participants to fully capitalize on the true genetic awareness of their cow herd. This is a whole-herd reporting program that helps isolate the known genetic potential of every female owned. The industry’s best metric for understanding genetic merit on individual animals is through an expected progeny difference (EPD). Simply put, an EPD describes the difference in production value for a given trait compared to other cattle. These are all calculated through pedigree relationships and performance records — and genomics if desired. Selection indexes take that one step further by combining multiple economically relevant EPDs along with industry costs and thresholds into a prediction model. Seedstock breeders undoubtedly use EPDs and selection indexes to make mating decisions. Why shouldn’t commercial producers have the same technology?
Cow Herd DNA Roundup
The CHR is an opportunity to push the accelerator on female genetic awareness. Every cattleman knows which cow is his best producer, but do they know right away which replacement heifer will fill that role? The field of genomics allows us to gain a better understanding of a young heifer’s genetic potential even before she starts producing. This technology uses known regions on the bovine genome that impact specific economically relevant traits. For example, longevity in cattle is known once they’ve been in production for almost a generation, but producers would hope to know that information before they invested time and money in replacements. Through genomics, we can use known genetic markers to give an indication of whether a female may last in the herd longer (or shorter) than others. The CHR will provide years of information before you have to invest years of time.
IGS Feeder Profit CalculatorTM
While the other two programs are focused around the cow herd, the FPC is centered around where commercial producers make ends meet. They’ve invested a lot of time and money into not only their cow herd, but also their bull battery because they know the role genetics play in the end product. They’ve also invested in their management protocols to ensure the feeder calves they raise will stay healthy and perform in the feedlot. These investments help producers stay profitable and build a more valuable feeder calf, but are their buyers aware of their commitment? The FPC is a third-party view of the profit potential on a calf crop through the understanding of genetics, health, and management. Buyers want low-risk, high-potential calves with earning potential. Producers want to highlight that their calves fit potential buyer’s needs. As opposed to traditional marketing slogans and empty statements let’s provide true awareness.
We can Know or Guess. Choose Know.