Improving the Genetics of Your Cattle Herd Using Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs)
In this post, lets discuss how to improve the genetics of your herd and make more informed breeding decisions! Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) are a powerful tool in modern cattle breeding that allows producers to predict the genetic potential of a bull’s offspring for specific traits, such as growth rate, milk production, carcass quality, and more.
Here's a simple guide on how to use EPDs effectively:
- Select Your Traits:Identify the traits that matter most for your operation – whether it's meat quality, calving ease, or milk production.
- Study EPD Values:When checking out a bull or cow's EPDs, you'll see numbers indicating how much better (or worse) their offspring are expected to perform in comparison to the average. A higher number (+) is generally better for traits like weaning weight, while a lower number (-) might be better for calving ease.
- Compare Bulls:When deciding between different animals, compare their EPD values for the specific traits you're interested in. Choose the one whose EPD values align with your breeding goals.
- Consider Accuracy:EPD accuracy is crucial. Higher accuracy values mean the EPDs are more reliable due to more data from the animal's offspring and relatives. Prioritize animals with higher accuracy values for more confidence in predictions.
- Combine Traits:Remember, no animal is perfect in every trait. Balance your breeding decisions by considering multiple traits that suit your production goals.
- Evaluate Herd Improvements:Over time, using EPDs can lead to significant improvements in your herd's genetics. Keep track of how your breeding choices impact your herd's overall performance in traits such as weaning weight, carcass quality, milk production, or calving ease.
- Stay Informed:Keep up with the latest advancements in EPD technology and research. New insights could shape your breeding strategies. Sire EPD’s can be updated routinely, do an annual check to ensure the updated EPDs of your current sire still aligns with herd goals.
Using EPDs isn't just about improving your herd's genetics – it's about making a lasting impact on the quality of your cattle and the success of your operation. So, dive into the data, make informed choices, and watch your cattle thrive!
The images below show: EPD tables across breed with Angus being the standard (USMARC; https://beefimprovement.org/.../21_ABEPD...). Common traits on EPDs, their meaning, and how to read an EPD (Montana State University Extension; https://www.nacaa.com/.../14674-mt202001ag_-_bull...).