With all the genomic tools now available, improving beef carcass quality is a goal that becomes more achievable every day.
The American Simmental Association (ASA) recently initiated a large genotyping project to collect more carcass records and genotypes on sire-identified terminal calves to improve progeny equivalents for carcass traits. All harvested cattle will be genotyped and the resulting data will be incorporated into the International Genetic Solutions (IGS) Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT.
Through genetic selection, the average steer has a larger ribeye, a higher degree of marbling, and less external fat than cattle 20 years ago. But, progress is slow when it comes to carcass trait selection.
Carcass trait predictions tend to have lower accuracy than growth traits, which inherently slows down the amount of genetic progress made over time. The ability to predict carcass traits is tied to collecting actual carcass records, which is the rarest form of data submitted. Genomics and ultrasound records can improve accuracy on unproven animals, but high accuracy carcass EPDs cannot be obtained without actual carcass records on progeny.
The ASA is collecting carcass records from seedstock and commercial cattlemen who retain ownership on terminal calves. More than 3,500 calves have been accepted into the program. All of the calves will be genotyped once they have been harvested and the resulting information will be included in the IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT.
"The carcass expansion project is another sign of the ASA's commitment to the science of genetic improvement to benefit the commercial beef industry," says Dr. Jackie Atkins, ASA Director of Science and Education, "This program rewards those devoted to collecting the rare but economically important carcass traits"
For any questions on how to submit carcass information to ASA or questions regarding the project contact Lane Giess at [email protected] or 406-587-4531 ext. 129.