IMPORTANT NAILE INFORMATION:

As most of you know by now, the North American International Livestock Exposition is on! It was announced on September 18th that they are planning to move forward and have the show, which makes us all happy after hearing Denver had postponed. With that being said, it is going to look a little different at NAILE this year. Please find the information below for what we know will be happening at NAILE. There is always possibility of change. As we get more information, we will do our best to pass along information to our breeders.   

  • Everyone must enter through Gate 1. It will be the only open gate!
  • Health inspections will be conducted at the time of arrival at the grounds. All animals must have a valid health paper with official USDA 840 EID Tag.
  • All cattle shall be reported Negative on an ELISA or BVD-PI test and can be listed on the health paper.  
  • You will then be directed to the lot right there next to Gate 1 to receive your packet that will include all your passes.
  • Barn Badges will be provided to exhibitors. This will be by the amount you enter so keep that in mind.
    • Exhibitors with 1-5 head will receive 3 passes.
    • Exhibitors with 6-10 head will receive 5 passes.
    • Exhibitors with 11-15 head will receive 7 passes.
    • Exhibitors with 16+ head will receive 8 passes.
  • The Barn Badges will be like lanyards, where you can take them off and give to another person. These will be to get into the barn. If you do not have one on you will not be allowed in the barn, but you can be out at tie-outs or the trailer. The facility is limited on the number of people allowed in the barns at a time and this is how they plan to control that.
  • Participants will not be able to enter the facility without completing the Covid-19 document provided by NAILE.
  • Mask will be required.
  • The Pavilion (where Shorthorns are normally stalled), is partially being used for Covid-19 things. With that being said, there is a possibility we will be stalled somewhere different.
  • Stalling will be the same as last year and we will be following our Stalling Policy. Please see that policy below.
  • Bedding will be pre-bedded. They will disinfect in-between each breed but will not be able to re-bed, so be respectful when loading out and clean up trash. This will allow them to rotate breeds quicker.
  • Shorthorns are lucky enough to be on the same schedule, meaning we will be one of the first breeds in and out of the barns. We will show Junior cattle on Saturday and Sunday, and Open cattle will show on Monday. We will start Monday with ShorthornPlus Bulls followed by ShorthornPlus Females. Then continue with Purebred Bulls followed by Purebred Females.
  • There will be NO Spectators allowed in the show ring. Only people with barn badges will be allowed.
  • There will be restrictions on the number of people allowed in the make-area with each animal. We do not know this number yet.
  • They are considering opening up the Sale Arena for a certain number of spectators during sales only, but this has not yet been confirmed. This does not mean that those people will be allowed in the barn.

Disclaimer, this is what we know as of now but there is possibility this could change. We wanted to get this information out to our Shorthorn Breeders to try and stop rumors and help you make decisions before entries close. Entries close on October 1st with late entries being October 10th.

Stalling Policy; we will be following the NAILE stalling policy.

            NAILE uses our entries from the previous year to plan how much stalling we receive for our breed. They will take a percentage away from our previous year entries and then take a percentage away for no shows of current entries. So, what does this mean for you?

We get less stalls assigned for Shorthorns than what are entered. We advise that you enter more head then what you plan to bring because we will cut down on your stall space from what you enter by the same percentage that we are cut by NAILE. Please add space for tack to your entries. (NAILE does not allow any tack space when assigning breed stalling space)

If you have any stalling request, we will take them, but we cannot promise that you will get them as we will be stalling where you fit best. Stalling request need to be in by November 1st to Emily at emilyv@shorthorn.org, in order for them to be taken into consideration. Also, please contact Emily if you are coming or not coming to the show. Stall space will be made solely off of number of head entered.

2021 IGS Steer Profitability Competition

The Steer Profitability Competition (SPC) is designed to provide junior members meaningful exposure to the opportunities and challenges associated with cattle feeding. The SPC will not only allow participants to measure and compare the profitability of their own animal(s), but of greater importance, it will introduce young beef enthusiasts to peers, mentors, industry advocates, and experiences that are exceedingly difficult to acquire for any beef producer. Participants in the SPC program will be powerful voices as they transition from junior membership to adult participation within the beef industry.

Updates to Growth Trait Predictions

By the International Genetic Solutions Science Team

1.  A new definition of contemporary groups based on the age of the dam.

Regardless of how users designate contemporary groups (CG), all calves born from first-calf dams will be placed into a separate CG from calves out of mature cows. Given the vast majority of producers actually man- age this age group separately, it is reasonable to define their calves as their own CG. Handling these as separate CG will reduce the environmental noise caused by differ- ent management strategies and biological constraints for this age group.

2.  Milk modeling updates.

The magnitude, and even direction, of the correlation between weaning weight direct and milk, has been long debated in scientific circles. In fact, there is a wide range of estimates that exist in the scientific literature. Given that, the science team developed a model that assumes milk and weaning weight direct are independent (i.e., genetic correlation of 0). In addition, with some of the other proposed updates, it was discovered that the evalua- tion solved more effectively when genomics were removed for Milk EPDs. In light of this discovery, the IGS Milk EPD will not use genomic information for the time being.

3.  Different variances for different sexes.

Males usually have a higher growth potential than females simply due to gender. As a consequence, the variation associated with their weights also tends to be greater. This difference in the amount of variation between the sexes are set to a male scale in the up-dated growth trait predictions.

4.  New DNA Marker subset.

As the number of genotyped animals has increased, so has our ability to estimate marker effects and identify subsets that are more predictive. Relative to growth traits, a new (and larger) subset of markers has been identified to add more accuracy to EPD.

5.  Accounting for different birth weight collection methods.

When we began looking into growth trait data, we discovered that not all birth weights followed expected amounts of variation. Some of the examples of reduced variation included weights rounded to the nearest 5 pounds, reduced variation when hoof tapes were used, and likely-fabricated data with little to no variation. Some of these data are useful, but they are clearly on a different scale and need to be treated appropriately. Dr. Bruce Golden developed a way to use machine learning to recognize unique features of each class of birth weight observation and predict how it was obtained. By accounting for the various categories, the genetic evaluation is still able to use submitted records that fall out of biological expectations for most scenarios, while more accurately accounting for different practices of collecting the weights.

Results of Updates to Growth Model

With these proposed changes, a considerable amount of work went into testing if the new models improved growth trait predictions. One of the most common procedures for evaluating updates to EPD systems is to exclude a certain portion of the phenotypes available, run the evaluation, and compare the correlation of the EPD from two systems to the phenotypes that were removed from the evaluation (higher correlation is bet- ter). For these updates, this procedure was used where all animals born after 2018 were excluded from the evaluation system and then comparisons between the current growth trait EPDs and the updated EPDs were made to this phenotypic information. The results for each of the analyses are presented in the following table.

Pearson correlation between parental average EPDs and excluded phenotypes from animals in the IGS genetic evaluation that were born in 2018 or later.

Trait Updated Evaluation Previous Evaluation
Birth Weight 0.52 0.50
Weaning Weight 0.38 0.34
Yearling Weight 0.45 0.37

The results in the table above show the evaluation updates had higher correlations to phenotypes than  the previous growth trait models. This equates to more precise EPDs for Birth, Weaning, and Yearling Weight.

An additional trait that is evaluated with the growth analysis is the Milk EPD. A Milk EPD represents the genetic difference in calf weaning weight based on the maternal environment provided by the dam. Due to the nature of this trait being the maternal component of weaning weight, a different validation strategy must be used to evaluate the updated predictions. To evaluate the updated Milk predictions an expected weaning weight for the excluded animals was formed using the following equation:

Predicted Weaning Weight = Calf WW EBV + Dam’s Milk EBV

This predicted weaning weight was then correlated with the excluded weaning weight phenotypes. Again, the updated predictions of Milk had higher correlations compared to the previous Milk EPDs (0.42 vs. 0.39, respectively). These results show that the updated predictions more precisely predict the weaning weight of an animal than the currently published evaluation. Breeders may notice reranking of animals with the release of the growth trait updates. While the change may be unsettling, the end results by every measure have shown an improvement in the precision of the growth trait predictions.

Regional Show Update!

Last month we put out that we would be continuing the Regional Points with the shows that were left in each region. Unfortunately, since then, almost all of the State Fairs hosting regional shows have cancelled. The Show Committee had a meeting at the junior nationals in Texas and made the recommendation to suspend the regional points for this year because of all the cancellations. The ASA Board of Directors followed the recommendation of the Show Committee and as a result the Super Regional and Regional point system will be suspended for the 2020-2021 show season.

With this change, we are still going to move forward with National Show Points. As, a way to give out more awards for this show season the ASA Board approved to add division winners for our National Show Points. We will score these division winners with the same points that allocate for the National Show Female and Bull awards. It is also approved that there must be at least two National Shows during the 2020-2021 show season in order for any national awards to be presented. This does not mean that an animal must exhibit at two National Shows, just that two Nationals Shows must take place. So far, one of the National Shows have cancelled, Keystone International Livestock Exposition. If any more cancel we will get these updates to the membership as best as we can. During these unprecedented times because of Covid-19 we all have to anticipate possible adjustments happening to everything we do. The resulting awards for the National Shows will be presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting, which is the kickoff of our 150th Anniversary Celebration. 

Below are the points that will be used for the National Shows.

5 National Shows

1st: 8 points

2nd: 7 points

3rd: 6 points

4th: 5 points

5th: 4 points

Division Champion: 7 points

Reserve Division Champion: 5 points

Grand Champion: 11 points

Reserve Grand Champion: 9 points

SHORTHORN REPRESENTATION ON BIF BOARD

MANHATTAN, Kan. (June 8, 2020) —The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) announced new directors and officers June 8 during the group’s annual meeting and symposium, hosted virtually this year.

Joe Mushrush, Strong City, Kansas, was introduced as the 2020-2021 BIF president during the Monday session. Matt Perrier, Eureka, Kansas, is the new vice president. New directors elected to serve on the BIF board were producers John Irvine, Manhattan, Kansas; Troy Marshall, Burlington, Colorado; and Joy Reznicek, West Point, Mississippi. New association representatives elected were Shane Bedwell, American Hereford Association; Kelli Retallick, American Angus Association; and Matt Woolfolk, American Shorthorn Association.

Bob Weaber, Kansas State University professor, was announced as the new BIF executive director. Weaber will be taking the reins from Jane Parish, Mississippi State University, who served as executive director from 2015-2020.

“Jane has been a great leader for the organization, and we are grateful for the years she dedicated to BIF,” says Tommy Clark, 2019-2020 BIF president. “Under her leadership, BIF has raised the bar in member services, as well as its communication and marketing efforts to members, the board and the organization’s partners.”

Also retiring from the staff after 18 years of service to BIF is Lois Schreiner. From 2002-2020, Schreiner served as executive assistant to several directors and has been integral in BIF’s success.

“Lois is phenomenal,” says Weaber. “She has been the heart and soul of BIF, and the behind-the-scenes contribution she has made to BIF for the past 18 years is immeasurable.”

More than 1,300 beef producers, academia and industry representatives registered to participate in the organization’s 52nd Annual Research Symposium — Online. BIF’s mission is to help improve the industry by promoting greater acceptance of beef cattle performance evaluation.

For more information about this year’s symposium, including additional award winners and coverage of meeting, visit the Awards and Newsroom pages of BIFconference.com. For more information about BIF, visit BeefImprovement.org.

The 2021 BIF Convention and Research Symposium will be June 22-25 in Des Moines, Iowa.

National Junior Shorthorn Show & Youth Conference is Happening!

We have stayed in constant communication with the Taylor County Expo Center and Abilene, TX over the past few weeks to learn how COVID-19 would affect the National Junior Shorthorn Show and Youth Conference this summer.

We are excited to announce that they have given us the green light for our event scheduled for June 22-27 as long as we adhere to guidelines set forth by the Governor of Texas and Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, TX. We feel that these guidelines, are what we all have grown accustomed to, and do not cause significant restrictions that would hinder the enjoyment of the activities for this event.

The Taylor County Expo Center will be taking precautions to be sure that surfaces and areas are sanitized, along with requesting that those who attend continue to follow the safety precautions that we all have been following to protect ourselves.  Taylor County Expo Center is excited for our show and the arrival of Shorthorn juniors and their families.

The staff at the American Shorthorn Association, the American Junior Shorthorn Association Board and the ASA Board, are all looking forward to gathering with the Shorthorn family for one of the best weeks of the year.

The normal office function for the American Shorthorn Association will resume on May 18th. Be sure to contact the office if you need any help registering or transferring animals. Entries are due May 25th! You must have animals in the correct ownership by the entry deadline.

We are working hard to finish planning a great week of activities! The junior board has spent many hours planning for this event. They have updated contest rules and planned for other new activities. This year, Flatland Cavalry, a Texas Country band, will be performing!

We can’t wait to see everyone in June for Shorthorns and Spurs!

2018 ASA/University of Illinois Sire Test Performance Review

Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

The National Sire Test (NST) program has been a valuable tool for testing the ability of Shorthorn genetics to perform in a real-world setting. The second year of the NST and our partnership with the University of Illinois provided us with more data on a genetically diverse bunch of Shorthorn sires. Once again, we were able to collect a full set of data on Shorthorn-influenced cattle from birth to rail. The NST provides breeders the opportunity to compare the genetics in their breeding program in an unbiased, real-world setting while gaining more progeny data on their sires to help build a more accurate EPD profile. From a big picture standpoint, the NST gives ASA more information on the breed to show to the industry that our cattle have the capability to be used as a profitable piece of their breeding program.

Timeline and Management

For the second round of the NST, the U of I cows were bred in mid-December 2017. Like the previous year, these females were SimAngus based mature cows that are housed at the U of I Dixon Springs research farm in the southern region of Illinois. With 10 Shorthorn sires bred to 20 cows each, we were able to utilize 200 cows for this second cycle. The calving season began on August 30, 2018 and went through October 2. From a 52% AI conception rate, 94 calves were born. As these calves were raised up to weaning, they were asked to grow solely on mother’s milk, and the cows had to raise these calves on minimal supplementation.

Weaning day came about 3 weeks later for the 2018 crop than their previous year counterparts, with March 7, 2019 being this year’s recorded weaning date. The calves ranged from 156 to 189 days of age at weaning, up 23 to 30 days over the 2017 crop. Once again, the calves were preconditioned at Dixon Springs before being sent off to college to complete the feedlot portion of the NST on the U of I Beef Farm just off campus. They enrolled in the feedyard on May 8, and graduated 216 days later on December 10. The feedlot at U of I is a fully under roof facility, with slatted floors for waste management and rubber matting covering the floor to provide extra comfort to the cattle. The NST calves are grouped by sex and entry weight into feeding pens of 12-15 head. Each pen is equipped with a GrowSafe feed bunk to collect daily individual intake data on the calves. All cattle were implanted at the beginning of the feeding period, as well as re-implanted near the midway point of the test. The feedyard ration was approximately 0.65 Mcal/lb from an energy standpoint, and the ration consisted of approximately 30% dry rolled corn, 20% wet distiller’s grains, 20% high moisture corn, 20% silage, and 10% corn-based supplement. The NST calves went to the Tyson plant at Joslin, IL for harvest on December 12. Initially, the cattle were expected to go to harvest a little earlier. However, the fat cattle market situation at the time led to holding onto these cattle a little longer, trying to catch a better market and more revenue per head.

The Data

On the next page, you will find a table comparing the data for the NST heifers and steers separately. With each bull not having equal numbers of male and female progeny, it’s not a fair comparison to lump all offspring together. Like always, I prefer to let you as breeders draw your own conclusions from the data rather than tell you what should be important. Nobody knows your operation better than you and what you want to emphasize in your breeding program. From studying the data in general terms, there are a few “big picture” points I would like to touch on.

For the second year in a row, calving ease was a major strength of the NST sires. The cattle posted a 99% unassisted calving record this year. While the U of I herd at Dixon Springs is pretty hands-off when it comes to assisting their mature cows, it’s nice that these cows could have Shorthorn calves on their own with industry acceptable birth weights.

The NST cattle met industry standards for carcass merit once again. The entire crop averaged a 13.6 sq. inch ribeye area, with an average marbling score of 519. For those of you who are less familiar with the marbling score system, a score of 400 is needed for a carcass to be considered to grade USDA Choice. Scores above 500 reach the upper 2/3 of the Choice grade, which is often talked about being the “new goal” in beef quality grading. In this year’s NST crop, 97% graded Choice or higher, with 47 head having marbling scores great enough to qualify as upper 2/3 Choice or better. In fact, 11 head graded USDA Prime. While there are some strong marbling genetics in the cow base, it is nice to see Shorthorn sires complement those black hided cows and still produce carcasses that garner a premium on the rail. From a Yield Grade (YG) perspective, only 12 head were YG4 or higher. Cattle that reach YG4 or 5 are the ones that take discounts on the carcasses, and the percentage of NST cattle to do that was small.

When studying the Dry Matter Intake (DMI) and feed to gain (F:G) data of the 2018 NST, the picture doesn’t look as pretty as the previous class. For both steers and heifers, DMI was increased and F:G was lower than 2017. However, if you look at the small differences in the test, I think it starts to make sense. The calves in this round of the trial were on feed for an additional 4 weeks compared to the first set of NST calves. The 2018 calves stayed on feed later in their life cycle, when cattle naturally start to become less efficient in their growth. While there probably are still some differences in feed conversion between bloodlines in the two years’ sire groups, I believe the timeline and the natural growth curve also played a role in the changes in these data points.

What Did We Learn?

Much like last year’s review of the first NST calf crop, I think I am asking a question with several answers, none of which can be considered “wrong”. From a breeder perspective, you might have seen something in the data to identify your next AI sire. From an industry view, we once again had cattle perform well enough to meet standards, showing that Shorthorn genetics can do things well to be commercially productive. From my chair at the association, I learned that we have breeders that are really interested in the information that the NST provides us. Inquiries and discussions with breeders who have participated in the program, as well as those who are interested in studying the data, give me optimism that we can work together to attempt to grow Shorthorn commercial acceptance. It takes buy-in from all sides to make that happen, and having breeder interest is crucial.

With two full sets of NST data in the books and one more calf crop going through the program, I feel like we are starting to get a clearer picture of where the breed stands in crucial areas needed to gain commercial acceptance. With a sire evaluation program like the NST, it’s important to gather information to compare and back up the genetics with relevant data. The University of Illinois has been a great partner in accomplishing that goal. The unbiased data collection and results give our breed some information to validate our cattle’s commercial acceptability. The calving ease, carcass, and feed efficiency components are helping us do that.

I want to thank the ASA Board of Directors, past and present, for seeing the need for this type of program and supporting it, as well as the breeders who have nominated their bulls to collect this information. We have one more year of data to collect with the U of I, and I’m looking forward to see how that information helps us keep building our Shorthorn resume’ for the American cattle industry.

Keeping Calves the S.A.M.E.

Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

The topic of proper data reporting is one that is very important, yet also can be overwhelming and a hassle to many breeders. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to do when turning in your weights and data to ASA. I’ve learned that no matter how many times this topic gets covered, it’s usually not enough times! It’s been a couple years since we discussed this topic in the Shorthorn Country, so it might be time for a good review.

The best memory device I’ve seen to help with contemporary grouping is the acronym S.A.M.E.

S.A.M.E.: Sex, Age, Management, Environment. Simply put, cattle that are treated the same should be contemporary grouped the same!

A contemporary group (CG) is the largest it can ever be when you put them together during calving season. That makes it extra important to get your contemporary groups correct at birth to build on as the calves go through life. All the calves born in the same season should be grouped together, provided they were run under the same management. If one set of cows is on full feed while the others just grazed, then the calves from those cows should be split accordingly. When inputting calf data, Digital Beef will separate male and females calves into their own groups for you. You can use the “Season” dropdown menu to differentiate groups from each other within your herd (like the fed cow pasture vs the grazing pasture). The “A, B, C and D” designations don’t necessarily correspond to actual seasons, but rather are just a method to input your different groups the way they need to be.

It’s inevitable that animals will be removed from a contemporary group over time. Whether it’s a calf that gets sick and requires extra attention, or a couple calves are brought to the barn as show prospects, group those cattle that get treated differently than the rest as their own contemporaries. If you bring in a bull calf and start feeding him a show ration to prep for state fair, you would expect him to outweigh your calves that are on pasture and light creep. It would not be a fair representation of the data to keep him in the same CG as all his buddies that didn’t come to the show barn. The show calves would need to be removed from the main CG and separated into their own smaller group. Contemporary groups are not a “mix and match” task, where you can pull animals out and put them back in once they’re back in the same pasture again. Once an animal leaves a CG, it can’t go back to the old one. The bull calf you took to state fair can be turned out in the development lot with the other yearlings after his show career, but he remains in his own CG for data recording purposes.

Even if all your calves don’t grow and perform like you hoped, it’s important to submit the data on all calves, heavy and light. There’s a reason it’s called WHOLE Herd Reporting. It’s fairly common for cattlemen to not report their worst calves, because they don’t want to bring down the group average and have other breeders see their “bad” calves. If all the calves are treated the same, then ALL the calves should be reported, good, bad or ugly. If you are a WHR breeder, the assessment fee on your cows covers the registration of her calf, so choosing not to submit the poor calves is not really a way to lower your registration bills. If you don’t want to give the weaker calves a registration number, you can simply uncheck the “Register?” box when submitting calf data into Digital Beef, and the system will record your calves with a “U” number and not fully register them.

A pitcher who can throw an 87 mph fastball doesn’t look very good in the population of professional baseball players, where 95 mph throwers are pretty common. If you compare him to the entire population of men in the country, that 87mph heater looks pretty good again! That’s what happens when you don’t record those less than desirable calves in your crop. It doesn’t help your best show just how good they really are!

The chart below gives a visual example of how much effect removing the bottom can have on performance ratios, and in turn, EPD calculations.

For a contemporary group to be an effective sire evaluation tool, there needs to be more than one sire represented in the group. While you can still make comparisons of the individuals and their dams, a CG with only one sire doesn’t tell you very much on the bull. All the good performing calves are his, but so are all the bad ones! The best way to have multiple sires in a group would be to incorporate AI into your breeding program, then turn those cows out with a walking herd sire afterwards.

The task of contemporary grouping can be confusing, cumbersome, and downright boring for some breeders! However, proper CGs are also crucial and necessary for getting the best data possible into the Shorthorn genetic evaluation. As Shorthorn breeders, we should all want the best genetic evaluations possible. If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to reach out and ask. The worst questions are the ones that are never asked.