An In-Depth Look at Selection Indices: Part 2

I kicked off 2019 by beginning this series on the selection index lineup we have available to Shorthorn breeders and their customers. In the January issue, a basic overview of selection index technology was provided in Part 1. With the concepts of how selection indices are constructed laid out, it’s time to go deeper into the specific indices that are available in the Shorthorn genetic evaluation. In this installment, I’m going to provide you some more information on two of our selection indices; $Calving Ease and $Feedlot.

$Calving Ease ($CEZ)
The $Calving Ease index in our genetic evaluation is the simplest in terms of the number of traits included. This index is designed to identify the bulls that are best suited for use in breeding heifers. Bulls with a high $CEZ value are the bulls that are expected to sire offspring that calve unassisted and then grow out to a moderate mature weight. To meet that goal, the EPDs included in $CEZ are Calving Ease Direct (CED) and Yearling Weight (YW). CED is weighted heavily in this index, while YW is taken into consideration as an indicator trait for mature weight, which we do not have an EPD for currently. Higher growth cattle (the ones with really high YW EPDs) will see their $CEZ impacted more heavily than moderate YW EPD cattle, as the index is designed to select for cattle that will reach a moderate mature weight. Currently, the average of all non-parent cattle in the Shorthorn database for $CEZ is 28.10. Cattle in the top 25% of the breed have a $CEZ of 36.56 or greater, while cattle in the top 10% will boast a 46.10 or greater $CEZ.

$Feedlot ($F)
For those of you who retain ownership of feeder cattle, or might have customers that do so, the $Feedlot index is designed with that production scenario in mind. Sires that excel in $F are expected to sire feeder calves that will grow rapidly and produce a carcass that can grade very well on a quality scale. The $Feedlot has a few more pieces to it when compared to $Calving Ease. The EPDs included in $F include CED, Weaning Weight (WW), YW, Fat, Ribeye Area (REA), and Marbling (MB).

I’m sure the first thing that catches your attention from this list is the inclusion of CED. CED is incorporated into $F because even though this is a terminal index with growth and end product emphasized, completely ignoring calving ease could lead to dystocia problems, even in a terminally-focused operation. Therefore, CED is included in $F, albeit in a smaller emphasis than the other traits involved. As you would expect, growth and carcass merit are highlighted in $F. Of all of the carcass traits (Fat, REA, and MB), MB is more heavily emphasized than the others, as quality-based premiums and improving carcass quality grade are increasingly important in the industry. Both growth traits are more heavily emphasized in $F than CED and the carcass traits. After all, even at harvest, cattle are still sold by the pound, and cattle that grow are more likely to produce heavier (and more valuable) carcasses. Yearling Weight is used as an indicator trait for Carcass Weight, with the reasoning being that when $F was developed several years ago, there was no Carcass Weight EPD to include. Unfortunately, implementing Carcass Weight in place of YW is not as simple as taking one number out and putting another in.

As of the time that this was written, the average of non-parent Shorthorn cattle for $F is 52.35. For an animal to be in the Top 25%, the $F must be 54.51 or greater, and a $F of 57.04 qualifies in the Top 10% of non-parent Shorthorns. Hopefully, having some insight into what goes into our stable of selection indices gives you a better idea of how they might be beneficial to use in your breeding programs. It’s hard to use something when you don’t understand how it works, whether it is a power tool, an electronic device, or a selection index. In the next issue of Shorthorn Country, Part 3 of this series will tackle the $British Maternal Index, as well as the $Fescue.

Written by Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

Contemporary Grouping: Why, When, and How

Proper contemporary groups are just as important to our database and genetic evaluation as proper data collection. Data and contemporary groups build on each other in order to have a strong genetic evaluation. Contemporary groups can be a bit overwhelming, and rightfully so. Knowing which animals belong together in one group or another can take some time to fully grasp. It’s a topic that has been covered many times, but a little refresher course hasn’t ever hurt anyone. Hopefully by sharing some background information and a few helpful hints, your understanding of contemporary grouping will become clearer.

Why We Need Contemporary Groups
As you know, not all weights and measures are created equally because not all cattle are managed in identical environments.

So how do we use data in genetic evaluations when it’s not all collected on an equal playing field? By utilizing proper contemporary groups! Our EPD calculations are driven by comparisons in performance between animals, rather than actual measurements for a trait. Contemporary groups are used to define which animals are to be compared to each other within a herd. By making sure we compare the right animals to each other, we get the best information available to fuel the EPD calculations. Having weights recorded is important, but having the right weights recorded in a contemporary group together is equally necessary.

When to Worry with Contemporary Groups
I commonly get asked when in the production cycle to start paying attention to contemporary groups. The answer is the day your first calf is born, and every time you collect a new piece of data in your herd. Contemporary groups start when birth records are recorded. It is important to ensure that you have your calves grouped correctly at birth, because all subsequent contemporary groups are based off the initial birth groups. The largest contemporary groups will always be for birth records, since cattle can only be removed from the original contemporary group over time. Every time a new data point is collected, the contemporary group should be examined for animals that might have been treated differently and are no longer fairly compared to the rest of the group. Once an animal is no longer on the same playing field (either advantaged or disadvantaged), they need to be regrouped. If you have a calf that gets really sick between birth and weaning, or if you choose some calves to begin prepping for the show barn, those cattle should be removed from the larger contemporary group. When collecting data such as weaning, yearling, or ultrasound, the date of data collection also dictates contemporary groups. All the calves that need to be in the same weaning contemporary group need to have their weaning weights taken on the same day. If there are multiple weighing days, then you will have multiple contemporary groups.

How to Build Your Contemporary Groups
There are some rules you will want to follow when putting your cattle into the proper contemporary groups. The sex of calf is a major factor, always sorting heifers and bulls into their own groups at birth, and then into heifers, steers, and bulls for any data collected from weaning onward. Grouping calves by calving season is also important. Most breeders calve in smaller windows and don’t have to worry too much with season. However, if you don’t have a tight calving season, it is recommended to group your birth contemporaries into 90-day windows to get a fair comparison. Obviously, management and location are a major factor. If you run cows on multiple ranches, then you will have contemporary groups for each ranch. Fortunately, Digital Beef does a pretty good job of covering some of these bases for you. If you need to manually put cattle into different groups, there are functions available to help you do so, such as the “Season” (birth recording) and “Mgmt” (Weaning) options when recording data.As always, we want to help you if you have any questions with your contemporary groups. Not only does having them done correctly benefit you, but also the rest of the breed as we continue to build our database. A stronger database is the foundation for better EPD calculations.

 

2017 ASA/University of Illinois Sire Test Early Results

Early results are in from the 2017 ASA Sire Test with the University of Illinois, and Shorthorn genetics look to be proving their mettle in a real-world commercial setting. Even though they are heavily involved in cow-calf research, the University of Illinois runs their cow herd as close to a no-nonsense commercial operation as you will find in any university system. It’s a great opportunity to work with cattle that are forced to work in tight breeding seasons, have quality udders, and maintain themselves while raising a calf on minimal supplementation. A special thanks to the breeders who participated in the 2017 Sire Test. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to gather this valuable information that will help move the Shorthorn breed towards our goals of growing commercial acceptance for our cattle. From September 8- October 4, 151 Shorthorn-sired calves were born, with 91% of the calves born in the 17 day window from September 13- September 30. Using UI’s SimAngus cow herd resulted in 123 black-hided calves, 15 black calves with white markings/blue roans, and 13 red hided calves. These calves were raised without creep feed until weaning on February 14, 2018. After some time to precondition the cattle, they will be shipped to the UI Farm near the university campus this month, where they will go on feed. Data collection in this phase of the trial will include gain, feed efficiency, and eventually carcass data. Initial reports indicate that these weights stack up comparably to other calves within the UI herd, showcasing the value of Shorthorns as the British breed crossbreeding solution. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to draw any conclusions comparing groups of extremely small size. Having only 1 or 2 calves may not be a fair representation of a sire’s genetic capabilities. Unfortunately, nature didn’t bless us with perfect distribution of steer and heifer calves across all sires. Weaning weight data listed is adjusted to a 205 day weaning weight. All data has been uploaded to Digital Beef. We are working with UI to plan a field day in August. This will include a chance to see the cattle on feed, as well as educational presentations and fellowship with other Shorthorn breeders. Be sure to look for more information on this event in future issues of the Shorthorn Country. View Full Report Here!

American Rancher featuring Shorthorn Cattle

This is the most recent American Rancher featuring Shorthorn cattle. The ASA slogan ‘Performance with Purpose’ truly describes the Shorthorn breed and the breeders that raise Shorthorn cattle. Check it out!

 

Alabama Family Shares Passion for Shorthorn Cattle

Catrett FamilyIn Luverne, Alabama, Perry and Ashley Catrett raise their daughters, Cassidy and Cameron. Even though Perry and Ashley did not grow up showing cattle, their daughters expressed an interest in showing. Cassidy and Cameron started out showing crossbred and commercial cattle because their dad and his family raised commercial cattle.

After Cassidy and Cameron proved their commitment to showing, they family decided to start showing purebred cattle and purchased three Shorthorns to start a herd. They found that it was difficult to find Shorthorns in Alabama and other southeastern states, but they chose Shorthorns initially for their docility and color.

“Their dad likes that they have taken an interest in the beef industry,” Ashley said. “He thinks that showing helped them develop their passion that they may not have if they would have only stuck to the commercial cattle.”

Cassidy and Cameron have built up a herd of Shorthorn cow-calf pairs that is nearly as many cattle as their dad has in his commercial operation.

“The girls have even convinced Perry to use a Shorthorn bull,” Ashley said. “He transitioned to using a Shorthorn bull on the commercial herd as clean-up for artificial insemination work.”

Cassidy the older of the two, developed an interest in AI for bred and owned cattle. She even attended AI school to help grow her knowledge. Cameron has interest in embryo transfer. Ashley said the girls work together to improve their herd.

The Catrett’s began attending the National Junior Shorthorn Show in 2012 and it has been a great way for them to connect with other breeders.

“The girls have been able to learn more by attending nationals and networking with other breeders than they ever would have on their own,” Ashley said. “Shorthorn is our breed of choice and we enjoy having a week to spend with others that have a passion for the breed.”

Cassidy and Cameron were instrumental in starting a state association that now has at least 20 families involved, said Ashley. There is now a breed steer show at their state show and they offer scholarships through the state association.
“My daughters have goals of continuing in the agricultural industry,” Ashley said. “They will always want to have a Shorthorn herd. It is their passion.”

KEY Conference 2016

The 2016 KEY Conference is coming up July 29 – July 31 and will take place in California. The registration deadline is July 15th.

Click here for the registration application and more details.

Going to NJSS? Need a Place To Stay?

Where to Stay

Radisson:

There is a block of rooms on hold for Junior Nationals at the Radisson. *only King rooms are available
www.radisson.com/shorthorn

Hampton:

The Hampton Roseville opened on June 2nd and is now taking reservations.

Click here for more details and for reservations.

Campsites:
For reservations please call Tammy Nye 612-618-8566 or email tnyehome@gmail.com

Intern Update: Favorite Beef Recipe

Hey there!

Abbey and Taylor again. We are officially in the month of June and less than a month out from Junior Nationals.  So excited to be there and get to meet all of you. Entering entries to the computer and contacting members for exhibitor packet information makes us feel like we almost know you a bit. (Does that sound creepy, it might be.)

Today instead of giving you an update on our lives as interns (because really the only update is that we are working hard to have everything ready for Junior Nationals), we are going to share our favorite beef recipes. We were inspired to write this post after finding some AJSA aprons in a very cold storage room that Abbey dubbed as the ‘meat locker’.

Abbey’s recipe ­– There is this amazing little taco truck a couple towns over from where I went to high school in Colorado called Lucy’s Tacos. After trying many different items on their menu with at least 50 different options, I discovered their Carne Asada Fries.  When I moved 10 hours away to Oklahoma for college I had to find a way to keep these fries in my life, so I developed my own recipe.

AbCarne-asada-friesbey’s Carne Asada Fries

Prep time- 45 min. to an hour. (Most of this is down time letting the fries soak)

Cook Time-45 min. to an hour.

Total time- 1.5 to 2 hours.

Serving size – 4 people

Ingredients – Fries

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoon olive oil, or preferred cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (most days I like to add in a little garlic salt)

Ingredients – Toppings

  • Half pound to a pound of steak – depends on how much meat you want. I prefer a nice marble tri-tip steak for some extra flavor, but you can also use skirt steak of steak you want.
  • Weber Steak and Chop seasoning to taste
  • Shredded cheese – I like a three cheese Mexican blend, but from here on out the ingredients are all personal preference
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Shredded lettuce

Instructions

  1. Cut the potatoes into sticks, about a quarter inch to half inch thick depending on how you like your fries. Then place the fries into a bowl of ice water and soak for 30 min. to an hour. This will help the fries to be nice and crunchy.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F
  3. After the fries have soaked, rinse and dry them thoroughly. Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to coat a baking sheet then toss the fries in the rest and season to taste. Spread the fries even over the baking sheet and cook at 425F for 45 min to an hour until nice and golden. Turn the fries about halfway through.
  4. After the fries are in the oven cut the steak into half inch cubes and coat the cubes in the Weber’s seasoning and let sit at room temperature until ready to cook.
  5. When the fries have about 15 min. left cook the meat in a skillet on medium0high heat. I like to use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or a griddle for a nice sear but any skillet will work. If needed add a little bit of olive oil to keep the meat from sticking and burning.
  6. When the fries are nice and golden turn the oven off and remove them. I like to layer on some cheese and place the fries back in the still warm oven to melt the cheese.
  7. Plate the fries and add toping as desired.
  8. Enjoy!

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of my Carne Asada fries, but I have provided one I found from www.carlsbadcraving.com that is similar to what I based my recipe off.

stuffed peppers

Taylor’s Recipe:

As we all know, nothing beats Grandma’s cooking and I am pretty much certain my granny is the best cook of all! Growing up just a hop, skip, and a jump away from her house, I spent many days learning all the tricks to making the perfect dish. Moving 1,300 miles provided me with the chance to practice all that she taught me. Although, I will never be the cook she is, I think I have done a good job of perfecting a few recipes.  One of my all-time favorites to make is stuff bell peppers. Especially if they are fresh peppers straight out of Papa’s garden! With little preparation time, this is the perfect meal to toss in the oven on a busy night.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 30-45 minutes

Total time:  45-65 minutes

Serving size: 6-8 peppers

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 bell peppers
  • 1 box New Orleans dirty rice
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan and add in the chopped onion, cooking until the vegetable is softened.
  3. Next, add salt and pepper to taste, and then add the can of tomato sauce.
  4. Stir in cooked rice and cook for another 5 minutes or until the rice is warm. (Meanwhile, cut the tops of the peppers off and spoon out the rubs and seeds. Rinse.)
  5. Lightly, sprinkle the inside of the pepper with salt and fill the peppers with the hot meat and rice mixture.
  6. In the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish, put a ¼ cup of water (so you can steam the peppers while they are cooking).
  7. Place peppers in baking dish and top with shredded cheese.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees until the peppers are tender and the cheese is brown.
  9. Serve hot & enjoy!

 

 

apronsHope you have been practicing your beef cook-off recipes! It will be time to show those cooking skills off before you know it!

 

Shorthorn love,

Abbey & Taylor

Sponsorship Opportunities Available NOW for the NJSS

SPONSORSHIP MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES

2016 National Junior Shorthorn Show & Youth Conference July 2-7, 2016

njss_2016_logo 2Each summer, over 400 members of the American Junior Shorthorn Association make their annual trip to the National Junior Shorthorn Show and Youth Conference. Youth are able to showcase their talents during the week’s events through educational contests, cattle shows, scholarships, and many fun activities to build friendships with other young Shorthorn enthusiasts!

Sponsorship Marketing Opportunities Include:

Title Sponsor: $10,000

  • Arena Sponsorship:
    • An extra large, dominant banner advertisement in show arena
    • Your signage will be featured prominently on the arena announcer’s stand and an additional banner in the show arena
    • Additional banner at high traffic location
  • Logo placement on Exhibitor T-Shirt
  • Trade Show Booth space in show arena
  • Every Champion will be pictured with your company’s logo
  • NEW! 1 Year Contract Digital Advertising on the New ASA Website
  • Jumbotron Advertising throughout the Week
  • Sponsor One Contest
  • Full Page Color Ad in Exhibitor Book
  • Access to Show Ring for Photography/Video
  • Engagement opportunity
    • Opportunity for your company to make a presentation or demonstrate product use to junior exhibitors
  • Recognition as Title Sponsor in Press Releases

Contest Sponsor: $500

Contest will be named after the company/person sponsoring.

  • Examples: Stock Show University Team Fitting Contest; Sure Champ Showmanship Contest
  • Anywhere contest is listed sponsors name will appear
  • Anytime contest is announced it will be announced with sponsors name in show arena

Arena Sponsorship-$2,500

  • Banner with your logo in Arena
  • Jumbotron Advertisement
  • Half-Price Trade Show Booth Space
  • Exhibitor Book Listing (Full Page Ad)

Aisle Sponsorship-$1,000

  • Banner with your logo on Aisle
  • Jumbotron Sponsor Name Listing
  • Half-Price Trade Show Booth Space
  • Exhibitor Book Listing (1/4 Page Ad)

Champion Sponsorship
Supreme Champion Sponsor-$750
Champion Sponsor-$500

  • Sponsor can be in animal’s Championship photo
  • Sponsor will be recognized during the show

Legacy Sponsor- $100

  • Your donation sponsors one junior’s participation in all activities at the Junior National and Youth Conference
  • Sponsor will receive communication from junior sponsored

Click here to download and complete the sponsorship registration form.

Click here to download the full 2016 SPONSORSHIP MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES packet.

For Additional Information, Contact:
Gwen Crawford • 816 -599-7777 • gwen@shorthorn.org