In defense of incomplete EPD's.

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ELBEE

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Why EPD's may not work!

Scenerio: Alan makes his living off the land. Has his own cows, plus takes care of cows for Beau and Clyde. All the cows are handled the same, Beau and Clyde make their income off farm. Most of Beau's cows originated from Alan's herd, He comes in just before weaning, goes through his calves, picks about half out, plus buys a couple from Alan, takes them to Dan's feedlot (no expense barred). Meantime, Alan manages the balance with resources available. Jump ahead 1 year; half the heifers Beau took to Dan's aren't bred, oh well, take'm back to Alan he'll get'm bred. Meanwhile the group at Alan's are all safe in calf (400lbs lighter). Alan sells a group of bulls to Ervin, the commercial guy, needs a couple of Beau's, out of Dan's feedlot to fill the order. While the ones from Alan's are breeding,(settling more cows than they should),gaining weight, the ones from Dan's are laying in the shade loosing 400lbs.

Clyde buys tailender heifers at every club calf extravaganza in the land, takes them to Alan, along with semen from the latest (Ring-tail-dilly) pin up clubbie bull. Jump ahead 1 year; half the calves are dead from TH, PHA, or Monkey mouth, quarter are C-sections (by golly, there's a winner in that group). The last 25% are fine, out of Alan's cleanup bulls, but wow what an odd lookin bunch.

Alan keeps extensive records, knows what every cow and bull has done for the last 20 years, but also knows he'd be a FOOL to submit his numbers, and crucify his herd.

Beau has fantastic numbers,but why?

Clyde don't care, he's headed to Fort Worth with that great one!

Don't forget the Larry and Darell ranch, numbers? What do want them to be? Age? How old do you want her to be?
 

red

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Elbee- are you in the running for DL's Silver Tongue Award?
Really had to laugh at that one, holds true in many cases.
Nephew just called, one of the farm cow's had over a 150 calf. Calf dead, cow down. :'( Bad start to the week.

Red
 

DL

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ELBEE - If you get the Silver Tongue Award will you forgive me for "overaging" you? You are just so astute I figured you were a remnant of the 60's like me! (cow) (cow) (cow)

Red - maybe it is the end of last week and tomorrow will bring good things!
 

red

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ELBEE said:
Ass tute, hmmm there's something I've never been called before!

Now, elbee- DL is not saying she wants to yours in a tutu!
(lol)
Red
 

cowz

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OK, I'll stick my neck on the old chopping block and make a couple of my cranky remarks!

EPD's are a TOOL only.  The value of the data is only as good as the credibility of the person who sends it in.  How many of those calves are truthfully weighed?

EPD's are a way to use an educated guess at what genotype can lend to the expected phenotype.  If you purchase seedstock from those who you have witnessed keeping accurate records, then you have more confidence and can use the data for informed decisions.

Im leaning with ELBEE on this one, I would rather have incomplete EPD's that fictitious ones!!!!
 

red

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Really, it's like talking to guys that tell you they never weigh calves but then they have EPD's on everything. They then say they've never had a calf go over 100.  :))) am I that naive?


Red
 

cowz

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red said:
Really, it's like talking to guys that tell you they never weigh calves but then they have EPD's on everything. They then say they've never had a calf go over 100.  :))) am I that naive?


Red

You are NOT naive....you nailed down that one!  For example, we worked for some people that took recordkeeping to a new level.  Calves born 20 miles from nowhere were weighed, even if it was with a portable scale kept in a saddle bag.  Others breeders would say .... looks like 80 ..... looks like 90.  For the guys who guess weights and never check their guesses, I think you can convince yourself after awhile of what YOU WANT IT TO BE!

 

genes

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Ok well here's where I have mixed feelings/some frustration.  EPDs are a powerful tool for selection.  They work.  Other industries, such as dairy cattle, make them work.

But granted, by the nature of the business, it is harder to make them work in beef cattle.  With AI still being the minority, we have an abundance of sires rather than a handful, and the herds don't have the same conectedness (as in, their aren't relatives in every herd).  And of course, as has been brought up, the record keeping is independent.  So not every farmer has a scale.  And unfortunately, some will fudge the numbers even if they do.

But is that a good reason to stop sending in your own honest numbers (and improving your EPDs in the process)?  Should we give up on them because it's not perfect?  How many of you would say "Well so many people at the shows are cheating, I'm just going to quit going to shows?"  or "I might as well start cheating too".  Probably not many...instead most of you would say something like"Well I will just do my best within the rules and be proud of what I've got" or something along those lines.  So why not take the same attitude towards EPDs?  Breed for improvement, be proud of doing it, and turn in the (true) numbers that show it.
 

ELBEE

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Until we have an equation for input relative to growth,ie: efficiency, I feel EPD's are worthless. We all assume dairy cows are fed to produce maximum pounds of milk. Feeding breeding cattle for maximum weight gain is not necessarily a proper measure.

It's not too hard to (honestly) manipulate EPD's by feeding differently,in different groups, on the same premises.
 

DL

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ELBEE  - certainly that is true - and while we assume that dairy cows are fed for maximum milk production, rotational graziers have found that while milk production may go down (by not stuffing the cow so she is on a metabolic tightrope) - input costs go down and profit goes up. EPDs don't take in to account feed, weather, stress, goal of the critter, do they have a scale, do they use the scale, season of calving, etc etc

I will admit though that I do look at BW EPDs - primarily to determine who I won't use on heifers.....but if Clyde doesn't weigh 'em, and Fred weigh 'em with his eyes, and Sam believes he can weigh them by touching the tail - well there ya go - another useless number! 47 - now that is a number you can sink your teeth in to!  (cow) DL
 

genes

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DL, you bring up a good point with the dairy graziers.  They do face a challenge because their cows aren't managed the same as the vast majority evaluated, but they can still use EPD's, but just differently.  A lot of them do quite well by just selecting bulls with a more moderate production (because the grass won't support the max anyway) and then they have leeway to put more selection pressure on traits negatively correlated with production, like reproductive traits and somatic cell score.  Which really, is the way EPD's are meant to be used - not in black and white terms of good and bad, but to find a fit for your own particular production system.


Ok now about how differently animals are treated, EPD's definitely can account for it....it is one of the most basic parts of the equations to include contemporary groups.  Of course, again the challenge in beef cattle is that you can only practically put in so many groups, so no, not every guy's 10 cow herd, which should really be slplit half and half between the show heifers and not, will be accounted for separately.  I don't know the equations used in the national evaluations, or for different breeds, so I don't know what level they stop at.  Even so, while of course environmental influence can be huge, for the moderately to highly heritable traits (which all growth and size related traits are) the genetic effect is still pretty big as well.  So, while it may not do you any benefit to look at little 0.2 differences between animals, if you see giant discrepancies between two animals, you know genetics has to be at work there. 


As for efficiency, sorry you aren't getting an EPD for that, as if people aren't even truning in weights, how are they supposed to turn in feed weights?  Even in a research setting it's been one of the hardest things to measure until fairly recently (and you don't want to know what that barn costs  ;))  So it's much more a candidate for using marker assisted selection...apparently GeneStar already released some, and who knows...if certain people get their butts in grear  :D there could be more in the years to come.
 

ELBEE

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There you go Genes, genetic markers make way more sense than EPD numbers off the cuff. Whats that Horacio says on CSI? The DNA doesn't lie.
 

genes

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Only thing is, for now, the EPDs are a lot cheaper than the markers.  And are available for more.  Give it time I guess though.
 

Joe Boy

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There are too many variables.  Some feed in feed lots, some let them grow on grass, some are heifer mothers, some are 6 year old mommas, some times we have poor hay, or poor pasture, or excellent pasture, and there are lots of variants, but there are some value in the EPD's.  I like them even though my numbers are not good, but they are right.  I have had calves from 105 to 46 lbs  this year from the same bull, but there are a great deal of differences in their mommas.  The lady at the cotton gin gives me a hard time at weaning time.  I load the trailer with calves and make a trip for each calf.  I have an old cotton scale for the babies and a carrier that we used with the older lambs we used to raise.  It is carried with my other things in the back seat of my extended cab pickup, since my cattle are 30 miles apart. 
 

DL

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I just read somewhere (and of course I can't remember where nor can I find it!!! :eek: :eek: :eek: - maybe someone else out there say it...

but someone somewhere did a study to compare EPDs with the actual numbers and AMAZINGLY enough they found  (if my recollection is correct) that BW and WW EPDs were very close to actual; actual YW was higher than estimated and the others were pretty close.

I'll try to find the original study ---- but I found it very interesting... (cow) DL

 

genes

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Do you remember the approximate year or journal.  I could look.  I think a lot of studies calculate correlations between actual and estimates, but that would be just in the herd in question.

Anyway, it doesn't surprise me...brith weight and weanining weight are highly heritable traits.  This means that the genetics plays a large role.  The environment can obviously play a role as well, but it is less likely to "take over" and obscure the underlying genetic variation.
 

DL

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hey genes - how about those Sabres - 8 of their starters out with injuries and they are still top of the flock! :)

It is a little blurb in Drovers Journal p55 (Feb issue)
Researchers for U of Kentucky and U Floride
Compiled data from 6 breeds - AN, Brangus, Charolais, Limmie, PH, SM
results as above, also looked at marbling, carcass wt, loin, % lean, etc
sounded to me like multiple herds using a variety of bulls but
I haven't seen the original study - thought I might look for it - would be interested in numbers of animals and herds
have a great weekend - hope your weather is decent, DL
 

aj

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I would like epd's alot more if they had them for stayability and feed effeciency and dispostion. Gene markers are a step in the right direction also.In my enviroment I think maximum yearling epd for yearling weight should generally be around 15-20 in the shorthorn breed. Those plus 40's and plus 100's in the black angus breed I think have led to bigger framed harder doing cattle. The shorthorn in my opinion should be a maternal breed and should be moderate sized. Different environments call for different cattle also. But wiill 4$ corn change the way we feed cattle? Will people do more backgrounding? One thing in most shorthorn cattle is they are bigger bwt cattle. After saying that the shorthorn mamas will lay down and have a 115# calf unnassisted also. So pelvic measurements come into effect also. 30 years ago they used to teach that the most efficient measure of profitability in a cow herd was"pounds weaned per cow exposed to bull".This takes in fertility,live calves and everthing. A high ave weaning wt. is NOT the measure to use for profitability. Of course now stocking rate and and bonus price for carcass quality and the club calf bonuses also change things.So to each his own. ;D
 

Dale

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Elbee,

Several years ago a major breeder (no longer with us) began turning in lower birth weights (than actual) on his favorite bull.  His tampering caused another (one I was using) of his bulls birth EPD to jump from about +2.0 to +4.0.  The major breeder shot himself in the foot.
 
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