The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) is pleased to announce the release of iGENDEC for constructing custom selection indexes, an industry first. While generalized selection indexes have been broadly available to commercial and seedstock producers for some time, a precision agriculture tool for building custom indexes has not been available to the industry until now.
iGENDEC is a web-based tool for constructing economically optimal selection indexes for specific production and marketing situations. iGENDEC allows index customization through adjustment of economic and production parameters to reflect unique enterprise and production scenarios, including sale-point of calves, current phenotypic means, economic parameters, breed(s), and investment planning horizon.
The iGENDEC product was developed with the financial support of a USDA NIFA grant with the aim of helping enterprises make genetic selection decisions that are specific to their unique circumstances. It was co-developed by a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University, the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and Theta Solutions, LLC.
Dr. Matt Spangler at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln led the research and extension team that built iGENDEC and sees the system benefiting the beef industry in a number of ways. “It benefits commercial producers by helping them make genetic (often sire) selection decisions that are more profitable. It helps seedstock producers better advise their commercial bull buyers and it can also allow them to make seedstock matings with their future commercial buyer’s profit in mind,” Spangler says.
BIF enables the collaboration among beef producers and the extension and research communities to foster continued genetic improvement. Spangler explains, “iGENDEC is a tool that originated from collaboration among producers and scientists with the goal of transferring scientific knowledge into action. BIF hosting this software seemed like a natural fit. It allows for the sustainability of iGENDEC and broad industry access.”
Although the web-based system is user friendly, the developers strongly encourage that users possess a solid background in beef cattle genetics, especially index selection theory or seek advice from someone who does. This tool can be used to develop general-use indexes offered by beef breed associations or customized indexes for specific enterprises. iGENDEC can also be used as a teaching tool in the classroom and in extension programming efforts.
iGENDEC is made available to the industry in a variety of licensing arrangements. Funds collected through licenses support ongoing hosting and software development of the platform. A free 30-day trial option is available for users who wish to learn more about the potential applications. The software is made available to extension educators and instructors at colleges and universities at no cost. BIF member breed and state/provincial beef cattle improvement associations can access the software at reduced rates. More details about iGENDEC, including an educational video, are available at: beefimprovement.org/igendec.