An In-Depth Look at Selection Indices: Part 1

A hot topic in the hallway at the ASA Annual Meeting in Kansas City was the use of selection indices and the tools we have available in the Shorthorn breed. Selection index technology wasn’t an official topic in the educational forum, but I believe there was a lot of interest and educating going on among many breeders in attendance. There was a lot of good information and philosophy spread amongst breeders, and I hate that everyone couldn’t be in attendance to be a part of these discussions. That spurred the idea to spend a few months writing about selection indices, how they work, and what we have available in the Shorthorn breed at this time for you to use in your breeding programs. In order to get the best view we can at the whole picture, I think it’s only fitting that we start with the basics before diving into the more specific material.

The development of selection indices in the beef cattle industry are a relatively new addition to genetic evaluations. After EPDs came along, the idea to combine some of those genetic predictors into a single figure to attempt to gauge economic and genetic merit led to the implementation of the selection index. A selection index is intended to give a cattleman a relative economic value for an individual animal when in a specific production scenario. Traits that are important to a scenario are identified and included in an equation. The traits in the equation are weighted based on their economic value in the individual production scenario. Depending on the situation, some traits will be weighted significantly in the calculations, while others may only play a small role in the final output. Simply put, a selection index is like a long, complicated algebra formula, but instead of just X and Y for variables, there are a LOT more, with some indices having nearly enough components to have variables A through Z!

Usually, an association will offer several selection index options to their membership to try and meet several of their breeding objectives. Each index is calculated from a specific production situation, and it is important to know and understand those situations when studying an index. An index built for a breeding program of mature cows may not be as effective for you if you are looking to breed heifers. An index built with retained ownership of feeder cattle in mind may not quite fit your needs (or the needs of your customers) if selling calves at weaning is your main objective. Of course, whatever index is available to you may not be a perfect fit for your operation, but there’s a good chance that one or more indices will fit the needs of your program pretty well.

A selection index is designed to help breeders improve genetic merit without the drawbacks of single trait selection that can sometimes occur when using a single EPD to make breeding decisions. We all know that multiple traits must be taken into consideration when evaluating what makes profitable cattle in any situation, and a selection index is the best tool we have of predicting which animals can work in an environment.

The American Shorthorn Association has four available selection indices available for breeder use in their mating and selection decisions. They include $Calving Ease, $British Maternal Index, $Feedlot and $Fescue. In future issues, I will go into more detail about the components and uses of each index. Identifying traits of importance, the production scenarios designed for each index, and how we can use them as Shorthorn breeders and commercial seedstock producers will be discussed.

In the ever changing world of beef cattle genetic evaluation and selection, the use of the selection index is growing increasingly popular with commercial bull buyers. As providers of commercial seedstock, I hope that you feel it is part of your responsibility to understand and assist your customers in finding and using the proper selection index that meets their operation’s criteria. Hopefully, I will be able to fulfill my responsibility to give you the information you need to accomplish this goal over the next few articles!

NEW BOARD MEMBERS AND OFFICERS

During the American Shorthorn Association Annual Meeting on December 1, delegates from all over the country gathered to elect new ASA board members.

The nominating committee submitted three candidates for the available positions. Hugh Mooney, a board member from California, was elected for his second term. John Sonderman from Columbus, Nebraska, and Toby Jordan from Rensselaer, Indiana, were elected for their first term to the ASA board. They will serve a three-year term.

Following the Annual Meeting, the board met to elect new officers, for the nine-member board. The new president of the board is Rick Leone of Colorado, vice-president is Nancy Grathwohl-Heter of Kansas, and the executive director is Hugh Mooney of California. They serve alongside Tom Turner of Ohio, Joe Bales of Tennessee, Robert Alden of Missouri, Dave Greenhorn of Ohio, Toby Jordan of Indiana, and John Sonderman of Nebraska.

2018 KILE National Shorthorn Show Results

On October 6, 2018 Shorthorn exhibitors competed at the National Shorthorn Show at Keystone in Harrisburg, PA. Judge Chuck Lemenager from Fairbury, IL, evaluated a total of 70 head with 38 purebred females, 8 purebred bulls, 20 ShorthornPlus females and 4 ShorthornPlus bulls.

 

Grand Champion Female honors went to CF CSF Dream Lady 78 AV X ET exhibited by Cornerstone Farms of Winchester, IN.

SULL Grand Rose Mary 7025E ET was named Reserve Grand Champion Female, exhibited by Colten Anderson of Lake Village, IN.

Armstrong Easy Rider 1603 claimed the title of Grand Champion Bull, shown by John Allen IV of Sarver, PA.

Reserve Grand Champion Bull was GLF Spirit Fusion, exhibited by Henry Dodrer, Jr. of Westminster, MD.

In the ShorthornPlus show, Grand Champion Female was SULL Crystal’s Delight 7004E shown by Allison Walther from Centerville, IN.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Female was TSSC Blackberry Pie 829F exhibited by Reed Hanes of Celina, OH.

SMC King of the Jungle 1803 claimed the Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull, exhibited by Sadie Compagnola of Bath, PA.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was Harmony White Storm shown by Annette Braun of Mechanicsville, MD.

AMERICAN SHORTHORN ASSOCIATION INTRODUCES GENOMIC TESTING INCENTIVE

In an effort to encourage breeders to genomically test more Shorthorn females, ASA is introducing the Genomically Enhanced Heifer Program (GEHP).

ASA will be offering incentive to breeders who take advantage of the uLD (25k) or 50k genomic test on their heifer crops. All heifers tested as a part of this program will have genomically-enhanced EPDs.

Breeders whose animals are eligible will receive a credit on their ASA account for a portion of the cost of the uLD or 50k genomic tests done on replacement heifers. This will give breeders the opportunity to genomically test females at a significantly discounted rate.

For a heifer to be eligible for the testing rebate, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Heifer must be born on or after January 1, 2017
  2. 75% of the yearling heifer inventory must be tested
  3. All heifers tested must have a recorded calving ease score, birth weight, weaning weight & yearling weight
  4. Heifers with recorded carcass ultrasound or feed intake records will receive an additional rebate

“The GEHP will allow Shorthorn breeders to add valuable genomic information to the future of their cow herds: the replacement heifers,” said Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs. “ Additionally, the program will allow us to strengthen the ASA genomic database, which will significantly aid us in our commitment to offer the best genetic selection tools possible to ASA membership.”

If you have questions about this program, please contact Matt Woolfolk at ASA (matt@shorthorn.org).

STATE ASSOCIATION CO-OP ADVERTISING PROGRAM UPDATED GUIDELINES

STATE ASSOCIATION CO-OP ADVERTISING PROGRAM

  1. The state association coop advertising program is designed to help ASA and state associations share the cost of promoting the Shorthorn breed.
  2. Advertisement requests must be made by state association’s president, vice-president or secretary manager. Advertisements cannot be requested by groups of breeders or individuals.
  3. The ASA will reimburse 50% of the ad cost, up to a total of $650 per state per fiscal year.
  4. There are limited coop funds available for states in each fiscal year. No more coop ads will be funded when available funds have been utilized.
  5. Each state association must pay advertisement and send paid invoice to ASA to be reimbursed. ASA encourages the state association to include a copy of the ad placed with paid invoice.
  6. ASA will have 4 general ad choices and 2 contract ads for state associations to choose from. ASA encourages states to use contract ads for more Shorthorn promotion throughout the year.
    1. General Ads are a minimum of a quarter page in size and not larger than a full page in size.
    2. Contract Ads cannot be smaller than 1 column by 2 inches.
    3. Ads will have space to include the state association logo and contact information.
    4. Ads will include the ASA logo and contact information.
    5. Ads can include state events, dates and locations but not individual breeder information and dates.
    6. All ad requests must be submitted to ASA at least 5 business days before deadline. Ads will not be eligible for ad copy approval if received less than 10 business days before deadline.
  7. State Associations must provide the following ad specs to the ASA.
    1. Publication name, phone number and email address
    2. Ad Deadline
    3. Ad Size
    4. Full Color or Black & White
    5. State Association information to be included in ad
  8. State associations are required to meet above guidelines in order to be eligible to receive reimbursement for coop ads.

Guidelines updated September 26, 2018

Tulsa State Fair Super Regional Results

On Saturday, September 29, 2018, shorthorn enthusiast showed at the Tulsa State Fair. The Super Regional Show was judged by Shane Work of Manhattan, KS. Work evaluated 55 purebred females, 11 purebred bulls, 19 ShorthornPlus females and 5 ShorthornPlus bulls.

Grand Champion Female was awarded to RSF Simply Dessert Rose 3E exhibited by Ryan Lane of Siloam Springs, AR.

Reserve Grand Champion Female honors went to WHR Queen of Sonny 7N15 ET exhibited by Carolyn Norris of Rowlett, TX.

Grand Champion Bull was TJH Bo’s Maxim H7 exhibited by Crow Creek Farms of Lawton. OK.

Reserve Grand Champion Bull was J&M Maxim Silver ET shown by J & M Shorthorns of Perkins, OK.

In the ShorthornPlus show, Grand Champion Female honors went to JVCC Red Diamond 701 shown by Kadin Worthington of El Reno, OK.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Female was BOY Caroline D694 shown by Craylyn King of Hulbert, OK.

Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was FSC Mr. Fireball exhibited by Brett Forgy of Caddo, OK.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was CCF Nicholas C59E shown by Crow Creek Farms.

MN State Fair Super Regional Show Results

On Saturday, September 1, 2018, shorthorn enthusiast showed at the Minnesota State Fair. The Super Regional Show was judged by Todd Herman of Lima, OH. Herman evaluated 60 purebred females, 17 purebred bulls, 16 ShorthornPlus females and 2 ShorthornPlus bulls.

Grand Champion Female was awarded to DSF Esther 4F exhibited by Brock Studer of Creston, IA.

Reserve Grand Champion Female honors went to Steck Cherri 707 ET shown by Tyler DeGroot of Edgerton, MN.

Grand Champion Bull was Armstrong Easy Rider 1603 exhibited by John Allen IV of Saxonburg, PA.

Reserve Grand Champion Bull was BFS Dazzle Prince 702 shown by the Bollum Family of Austin, MN.

In the ShorthornPlus show, Grand Champion Female honors went to WGR Midnight Mirgage 708E shown by Mikayla Wetzel of Faribault, MN.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Female was AB Jolene shown by Madison Mattson of Albert Lea, MN.

Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was Dressen’s Rerun exhibited by Jim Dressen & Family of Ellsworth, MN.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was Dressen’s Snoopy shown by Jim Dressen & Family.

KY State Fair Super Regional

On Friday, August 24, 2018, Shorthorn exhibitors showed at the Kentucky State Fair. The Super Regional Show was judged by Josh Taylor of Perkins, OK. Taylor evaluated 32 purebred females, 9 purebred bulls and 14 ShorthornPlus females.

Grand Champion Female was awarded to BRH Proud Fool 1720 shown by Caroline Winter of Ashville, OH.

Reserve Grand Champion Female honors went to GCC Evolution Charm 7102 ET, exhibited by Kolten Greenhorn of Waynesville, OH.

Grand Champion Bull was Armstrong Easy Rider 1603 exhibited by John Allen IV of Saxonburg, PA.

Reserve Grand Champion Bull was EGL Neptune MX 759 exhibited by Eva Ennis of Martinsville, IN.

In the ShorthornPlus show, Grand Champion Female honors went to 4D Mae Lynn D21E shown by Rachel Drumm of Winchester, KY.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Female was LCF Roxie Diamond 727 exhibited by Reba Prather of Nancy, KY.

Adios Interns

Today marks the last day of our internship here in Kansas City. It’s been a whirlwind of a time learning about the association, working with junior members and planning Junior Nationals and the IGS Summit. These summer months have flown by and we are going to miss all of the staff members in the office, but we are leaving with some great memories and experiences. Working in a breed association has been the perfect opportunity to help us grow in our professional skills and give us a look into career possibilities. Everyone in the office has been so welcoming and helpful, and we are grateful for the friendly atmosphere we were able to work in.

 

For our last day, we decided to throw a potluck brunch. This year, for the Beef Cook-Off contest at Junior Nationals, the key ingredient was steak. We decided to center our dish around this cut of beef and thought breakfast burritos would be the perfect way to start our last day. After searing the steak on the stove, we added some scrambled eggs and bundled the mix up in individual flour tortillas. Shelby brought potatoes as her side dish, which made for a great addition to the burritos. After a healthy dose of some salsa and cheese, the perfect burrito was born and the fiesta began!

 

Once everyone had eaten their body weight in burritos and side dishes, it was time for Anna and Emily Dyes to return to college for their final year of school, and Emily Meinhardt for her junior year. Our time here may have seemed short, but we will remember our experiences for a long time to come.