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Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) have been widely adopted by the US Beef Industry over the last several decades. During this time and especially over the last 8 years, the number of EPD published by breed associations has increased dramatically from 5 in some cases to over 15. The assumption has been that by adding additional EPD producers could better characterize the genetic potential of prospective replacements (Bourdon, 1998) and therefore, to make more appropriate selection decisions that would improve or at least maintain profitability. No matter the number of available EPD, making the jump from genetic change through use of EPD to economic improvement is not a trivial task. There are several ways to tie genetic change to economic improvement and in the near future several new advances will be released that will make this association easier to establish.
An assumption throughout the remainder of this paper is that the goal for the beef producer is profitability with an acceptable level of risk; thereby ensuring the long term sustainability of that operation. It follows, then, that the purpose of genetic improvement is to help the producer meet the goal of profitability and that there are traits that directly influence your ability to be profitable. Finally, what is required are methods for taking EPD for multiple traits and combining those with economic information to determine the effect a particular selection decision will have on profitability.