Red Angus stakeholders now have access to updated tools that will enable them to achieve their ultimate profit goal. The newly released Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) 2011 Spring EPDs include two new genetic prediction tools for Carcass Weight (CW) and Yield Grade (YG).

The incorporation of the two new carcass EPDs will have a direct impact on carcass value by empowering producers to better predict the profitability of their beef product through carcass traits and feedyard profitability.

“The deflated Choice-Select spread and reduced cattle numbers across the nation have combined to refocus the industry's selection pressure away from simply increasing Marbling scores, and looking instead at placing greater selection pressure on carcass weight and lower Yield Grades,” said Larry Keenan, RAAA director of breed improvement.

Carcass Weight (CW) predicts differences in hot carcass weight and is expressed in pounds.

Yield Grade (YG) predicts differences of carcass yield grade score and is expressed in USDA Yield Grade score (1- 5).

Carcass Weight

Carcass Weight is calculated using a multi-breed model that includes birth, weaning and yearling weight data. RAAA's CW EPD is not subject to culling bias, thus providing a more reliable genetic prediction as compared to only using actual carcass weight. This computation allows for the use of weights taken on approximately 57,000 animals per year as compared to only 1,500 animals per year with actual carcass weight observations.

“Determining the level of selection pressure placed on the CW EPD should be a very well-thought-out decision,” said Keenan, “as grid pricing assigns significant discounts on carcasses that are too light (less than 550 pounds) or too heavy (over 1,000 pounds).”

He cautions producers to avoid reckless maximization or minimization of the CW EPD and suggests a more appropriate use of the CW EPD starts with knowing the previous carcass performance of a producer's calf crop. Based on that initial information, producers can better determine the level of selection pressure for CW EPD in an effort to achieve their ideal carcass weight.

Yield Grade

Just as the USDA Yield Grade is calculated using the individual animal's carcass weight, ribeye area (REA) and backfat (FAT) data, RAAA's YG EPD is calculated using the genetic predictions of CW, REA and FAT EPDs. The reliability of Red Angus' YG EPD is enhanced using both ultrasound and actual carcass data in its calculation.

“Prior to the publication of YG EPD, producers who desired a change in the yield grade genetics of their cattle were hamstrung,” said Keenan, “as they were forced to utilize two indicator traits (REA and FAT) of yield grade.”

By providing the YG EPD, producers are now armed with a reliable, easy-to-implement tool that will better enable successful selection decisions.

Progress through collaboration

RAAA has long sought after the addition of these two new Economically Relevant Traits (ERTs) in the carcass realm. Recently the availability of CW and YG EPDs was made possible through Red Angus' genetic evaluation relationship with the American Simmental Association (ASA).

“While we have already made one quantum leap through the ability to account for heterosis, the benefits of our relationship with the ASA continues,” concluded Keenan.

For more information on EPDs, visit the “Genetics” page on the RAAA website, Producers can also access individual animals' EPDs and breed percentiles, or calculate the projected EPDs of specific matings on the website.


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