Ultrasound and genomic data enhances EPDs | TheFencePost.com

Ultrasound and genomic data enhances EPDs

Angus genetics program director explains how ultrasound and genomic data will increase accuracy of expected progeny differences

“Seedstock breeders either love the phenotype data because that’s the real data or they love the genomic data because nobody can mess with it because that’s blood. The reality of the situation is they just have to work together to get us where we continue to have accurate genetic evaluations,” said Kelli Retallick, American Angus Association genetic and genomic program director. Retallick gave her presentation titled “Impact of Ultrasound, Carcass, and Genomic Data on Body Composition Expected Progeny Differences” during the Beef Improvement Federation Symposium June 24, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Through her presentation, Retallick discussed the reality of today’s beef market and how ultrasound data improves performance data.


The beef market is constantly changing due to different consumer demands and genetic improvements. In 2006, 37.5% of beef carcasses were grading USDA Select and only 6.6% of carcasses were eligible for branded beef programs such as Certified Angus Beef. For carcasses to be eligible for these branded beef programs they must grade in the upper two-thirds choice category. In 2020, only 14.4% of carcasses were grading USDA Select with an increase to 22% of carcasses being eligible for Certified Angus Beef. Consumers are demanding higher quality beef products and the beef market has implemented production practices to meet the demand.

“The beef market has shifted from a commodity driven market to a quality driven market,” Retallick explained.

Ultrasound data allows producers to have a look at carcass data before the animal arrives at the packing plant. This data can be used to increase most carcass related expected progeny differences (EPDs) more than 10%. Results from a study show that ultrasound carcass data would increase the accuracy by 14% for marbling, 16% for ribeye area, 17% for carcass weight and 21% for fat EPDs for young, genotyped sires.

Carcass EPDs accuracy would increase by more than 10% for older sires with more progeny carcass data. Combining ultrasound data with genomics would allow producers to improve animal performance by utilizing more accurate genetic data. This information would allow the industry to improve faster and more efficiently.

“Carcass ultrasound data is important,” Retallick said. “Ultrasound data has trended downward in recent years as genomics seem to have replaced smaller ultrasound contemporary groups.”

To watch the full presentation, visit https://youtu.be/cScicWJflKE. For more information about the symposium and the Beef Improvement Federation, including additional presentations and award winners, visit BIFSymposium.com.


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