Date of this Version
Working with beef cattle producers over the past 15 plus years, I have become convinced that the genetic component of beef production systems does not receive the time and consideration it should relative to the economic benefit it can provide. Over the past several years we have seen the development of EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences). EPDs are available on various traits of economic importance. They are a tool that can be used to predict an animal’s genetic potential, in a relative sense, and provide the potential for directional change in these traits of economic importance.
Breed associations may differ slightly on how they present their EPD information and in what EPDs they do provide. The EPD concept has expanded to the point where some may feel overwhelmed by the amount of EPD information currently available. None-the-less, producers should give the EPD information careful consideration when selecting sires to use in their programs. Assuming replacement heifers are generated from within the production system, approximately 90% of the genetic composition of the product produced will come from sire selection decisions. Registered breeders will have EPDs available on their females as well, to further refine their selection decisions.
This discussion will attempt to clarify some misconceptions about EPDs and offer considerations on developing priorities for selection decisions.