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Haven't done all the math myself but do agree with you that Across Breed EPD's can be quite misleading as can any EPD's for exactly some of the reasons you point out. How accurate are they? Within breed EPD's can vary widely from year to year. This years top calving ease bull can turn into next years cow killer.

I don't discount them completely, they are a tool for selection and when used properly (which is very infrequently) they are somewhat useful.

My main argument toward their detrimental value is that they cause many producers to put too much emphasis on selecting for traits of secondary importance because that is what EPD's measure. Often they only measure an indicator trait of the actual trait of value or the one you are striving to improve in your cattle. The real important traits to productivity can't be measured by EPD's, at least not yet. Things such as liveability, adaptability, structural soundness, type, longevity, mothering instinct, etc.

Specifically about Across the Board EPD's, I think that the prudent cowman studies the breeds of interest and then studies the lines within those breeds and NO, they don't do it at a stock show, they look at how the types acutally work in the pasture under real world conditions, preferably on the property of a commercial producer rather than a bull seller trying to puff the breed or specific animals. That is worth more than all the contrived and calculated numbers in the world. That is why a good cowman, can never be replaced.

Remember that while MARC data is some of the very best when comparing breeds under similar conditions, it is a long way from a real world commercial operation and so many traits and excellence in these traits are skewed toward big budget, ideal type operations.

Thoughts on Across Breed EPD's

Posted By: rancher Date: 6/12/03 09:53

In an attempt to compare apples to apples in relation to different beef breeds, I took the most recent breed average EPDs and adjusted them based on the 2003 Across Breed EPD adjustments.

I compared Angus, Red Angus, Hereford, Limousin, Simmental, Charolais, and Gelbvieh since these are the most popular breeds in my area of the northern corn belt.

When I evaluated the adjusted numbers they didn't look right. For example, the average Angus sire has a 1.6 pound lighter birth weight, 13.1 pound heavier yearling weight, and 12.7 more pounds of milk than the average Red Angus sire. This surprised me since Red Angus, as a breed, has REQUIRED performance testing since the inception of their breed registry.

Several of the other breed comparisons also look incorrect. For example the average Angus sires milk EPD is 2.2 pounds heavier than the average Simmentals. I DON'T BELIEVE THIS.

I found on the Gelbvieh website that the American Gelbvieh Assn. (AGA) was concerned with this data also. As they pointed out, the Across Breed EPDs, which were developed by the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) were developed based on "very small sample sizes at a single location." Consequently, the AGA has developed their own Across Breed EPDs for comparing Gelbvieh to Angus and Red Angus which look much more in line.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on the MARC Across Breed EPD accuracies?