One of the country’s oldest and best known replacement heifer sales is adding another level of data to help buyers select animals that best fit their operations’ goals. Beginning February 2019, bulls purchased for use in Missouri’s Show-Me-Select breeding programs will be required to have GE-EPDs(genomically-enhanced, expected progeny differences).
Those bulls, whether they are used in an AI or a natural service program, will meet required, breed-specific GE-EPDs. Those numbers are adjusted, sometimes annually, but at presstime the minimum calving ease EPDs were as follows: Angus, 7.0; Beefmaster, 4.3; Brangus, 5.8; Braunvieh, 8.6; Charolais, 9.8; Gelbvieh and Balancer, 13.0; Limousin and LimFlex, 10.0; Maine Anjou and MainTainer, 10.5; Hereford, 4.7; Red Angus, 9.0; Salers, 0.9; Shorthorn, 8.0; Simmental and SimAngus, 13.6.
Bulls bought prior to February 2019, will be grandfathered into the program. After 2020 the use of GE-EPDs sires is not optional. As part of the Show-Me-Select protocol, all sires must be approved by a regional Extension livestock specialist prior to the planned breeding season.
Jared Decker, University of Missouri Extension geneticist, says the new rule will improve calving ease reliability on replacements. In addition, he noted, heifers with calving-ease genetics typically bring higher bids in Show-Me-Select regional sales.
“GE-EPDs combine DNA, pedigree and production data in a single tool,” Decker said. “DNA tests give results similar to 28 calving-ease production records. More data boosts confidence in a sire.”
Eldon Cole, a Show-Me-Select regional sales coordinator, said the idea of adding value through genetic data is holding true for the heifers themselves as well. When sale heifers are tested using a genomic prediction panel they are classified as “Show-Me-Plus” and buyers take notice.
“They are the coming thing, and I believe these heifers will be even more sought after by discriminating buyers as we move forward,” he added.
Currently, sires used in the program that have at least a calving ease direct score of .65, a calving ease maternal score of .30, a weaning weight score of .75, a carcass weight score of .20 and a marbling score of .20 will put those bred heifers into the tier two level for the sale. This is true whether the heifer is bred to that sire using natural service or AI.
Decker noted they are aware the change will have an economic impact. “We know this adds cost to market registered bulls,” he said. “But the time is right for change.” He added since 2010, the cost of a DNA test has gone from $150 to $37.
In the last spring sale of 2018, held June at the F and T Livestock Market, average price per head for a tier-two (AI) bred heifer was $1,680; average price for the tier-one (AI) bred heifer was $1,612—a $68 per head difference.