by Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs
Our genetic evaluation provider, International Genetic Solutions (IGS), recently made adjustments to the mechanics and models that tabulate the weekly EPD runs. IGS facilitates the largest weekly beef cattle EPD run on the planet. With the growing volume of data entering the IGS evaluation from over 20 worldwide breed associations, adjustments were needed to improve the efficiency of the weekly runs. As data volume increases, time to complete the eval also increases. We used to be able to get our new EPDs every week on Monday afternoon, but that has slid back later in the week over time. The computer power that IGS uses for the tabulations couldn’t keep up with the influx of data from around the globe without some adjustment to the models.
Implemented with the run conducted the week of December 11, the changes center around adjustments to the breed comparison tools used within the evaluation, how that comparison data is handled through the evaluation, as well as updates to the EPD bases that are in place. As a true multi-breed evaluation, these comparisons are necessary to the function of the IGS eval and need to be updated from time to time. With these changes to the models, breeders should expect to see changes in their EPD values for BW, WW, YW, and MILK EPDs. While values may change, there is minimal shuffling of where cattle rank for these traits. Changes in EPD values are occurring across all the IGS member breeds with these updates to the model. So what we anticipate you seeing is a quicker, more efficient evaluation run each week with some slight differences in the values of your growth EPDs. Unfortunately, due to the timing of the announcement from IGS and the deadlines for Shorthorn Country, the earliest we could discuss these changes in print comes after the fact with this article. The initial announcement can be found in the December 5 Shorthorn Insider e-mail newsletter.
Our partnership with IGS allows us to bring you the strongest genetic prediction tools found in the beef industry. Our involvement in IGS allows Shorthorns from around the globe (Australia, Canada, and the United States) to all have EPD profiles that are directly comparable to each other. Participating in the cooperative, or any genetic evaluation for that matter, will come with occasional changes as the science teams work to improve the product they distribute to the breed association. I was once told that if you’re trying to make improvements and nothing changes, then you didn’t make improvements. We expect to see improvements in the genetic tools we can offer you with this round of updates from IGS, even if the numbers look a little different.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me (matt@shorthorn. org) to further discuss these new models. Happy New Year!