At the recent 2023 Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, had the chance to catch up with Kevin Milliner, Cattle Genetics Specialist at Zoetis, and talk about Zoetis efforts to aid commercial cow producers in improving their beef cow herds.
The real challenge for the commercial producer, Milliner said, is making genetic improvement faster.
“Our extension folks have told us we need to buy the very best bull we can afford,” Milliner said. “Still good wisdom, but the missing link is that female.”
Having the chance to know more about their females in an operation, Milliner said, is critical in making genetic process.
“That is why we breed cattle,” Milliner said. “We want the next generation to be better than the previous generation, much like we as parents want our kids to be better than we were.”
The product Zoetis is offering, Milliner said, offers cow-calf producers the ability to calculate genomic EPDs for 19 traits.
“The EPD is actually calculated from the genomic information,” Milliner said. “When you look at how accurate that is, it is as accurate as the old EPDs were before genomics. Certainly, something much more powerful than what we have ever had for the commercial female.”
To make it easier for producers, Milliner said Zoetis also offers three indexes.
“These are bioeconomic indexes,” Milliner said. “Big fancy word to say that not all traits are created equal. Those traits are weighted on those indexes to the extent that they drive profitability.”
Milliner said the first trait is the cow-calf index, which looks at everything maternal.
“We have got the feeder and the carcass index that looks at everything post-weaning, so growth and carcass merit, and we combine those into a total score, if you will, called the total return,” Milliner said. “So, it is an easy tool for producers to make those keep-cull decisions by using those indexes.”
The tool not only gives producers the index number, but also the percentile range for those indexes and individual traits within the entire database, Milliner said, which is around 1.4 million head.
Using this information will give producers the ability to know what weaknesses they need to correct in their herd, and what to look for when buying their next bulls.
To learn more about Zoetis efforts to help improve producers’ beef cow herd, visit https://inheritprogress.com/
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