American Angus Association Utilizes the Latest Research to Boost Genetic Progress

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Kelli-Retallick about genomics in the cattle industry.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with the president of Angus Gentics, Inc. (AGI), Kelli Retallick-Riley, about genomics in the cattle industry.

“We really hit our stride with genomics in 2010 when we incorporated genomics into our national cattle evaluations at American Angus, and quite frankly, it has been an upward trajectory of people getting involved in genotyping and continuing to phenotype their animals to really put the best most accurate genetic predictions out there for breeders and commercial cattlemen to use,” Retallick-Riley said.

Retallick-Riley explained why information regarding both phenotype and genotype is critical.

“Genotype will tell me who I am related to, but if I don’t know anything about those relatives, I can’t draw an inference on that, so they really go hand in glove,” Retallick-Riley said. “We can’t have good, accurate genomic predictions without the actual performance records that our breeders are collecting.”

From a strategy standpoint, Retallick-Riley said producers can receive 25 progeny equivalents worth of accuracy by genotyping animals.

“I don’t know if when I started my role here in 2016, I would have thought we would be over 1.5 million genotypes inside of that genetic evaluation already,” Retallick-Riley said. “In the last five to six years, our growth on the genomic side has just grown exponentially.”

Retallick-Riley said that recently, the American Angus Association was excited to release the research phase of the functional longevity EPD.

“That is actually an EPD that helps us as Angus breeders and commercial cattlemen alike understand what sires are going to leave daughters that will stay in the herd for a long time and produce a calf every year,” Retallick-Riley said. “We both know how economically relevant something like that trade is. Even though it is locally heritable, with genomics and good data collection, we can start to make genetic progress in a pretty complicated trait.”

One trait being predicted, Retallick-Riley said, is the number of calves a female will have in her lifetime.

“That is a trait we are predicting out at year six,” Retallick-Riley said. “Understanding how many more calves a sire’s daughters will have by year six.”

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