Selection indexes increase profitability

“Breeding goals should be realistic, consistent but flexible, data-driven and profitable,” said Troy Rowan, University of Tennessee assistant professor. Rowan gave his presentation titled “Selecting for Dollars: Putting Selection Indices to Work” during the Beef Improvement Federation Symposium June 23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Rowan explained the importance of utilizing selection indexes to increase profitability and updates on selection indexes from breed associations.


A producer should create breeding goals that will be profitable while being realistic, consistent, and driven by animal data. Multi-trait selection is almost always necessary and multiple traits must work together today to produce a profitable herd. Economic selection indexes are the most effective tool for accurate multi-trait selection. These indexes allow breeders to select on aggregate economic merit, by attaching an economic value to each trait (EPD) and accounting for genetic correlations. The resulting indexes deliver a single value and directly quantify profit differences between animals.

“Our breeding goals first and foremost need to be grounded in reality and aware of our production environment,” Rowan said. “Making sure the cattle will work in your production environment with your level of management is above all the most important thing when it comes to realistic breeding goals.”


The Red Angus Association of America has retooled their existing selection indexes HerdBuilder (Maternal) and GridMaster (Terminal). And developed a new all-purpose index for Profitability and Sustainability (ProS).

The American Hereford Association has introduced commercial marketing programs to reflect the goals of their economic indexes (Maternal Advantage, Premium Red Baldy and Certified Hereford Beef) focusing on the Baldy Maternal Index (BMI$), Brahman Influence Index (BII$), and Certified Hereford Beef (CHB$). Additionally, the AHA has added new traits for sustained cow fertility and dry matter intake in the breed’s selection indexes to better reflect revenue and cost sources in commercial herds.

The American Angus Association has put a large focus on the creation of terminal indexes targeted at beef-on-dairy crosses for Holstein ($AxH) and Jersey ($AxJ). To accomplish this the AAA has retooled the $B Index by adding selection pressure for muscling, height, calving ease and growth to weaning. This is all aimed at making Angus/Dairy crosses to look more like a beef animal.

To watch Rowan’s full presentation, visit For more information about this year’s symposium and the Beef Improvement Federation, including additional presentations and award winners, visit


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User