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Summer nights in Nebraska Hannah Gaebel

Top 4 “Genetics in action” photos; PLUS: How DNA is improving EPD accuracy

Today’s blog wraps up our “Genetics in action” photo contest and discusses how BOLT-powered EPDs are improving accuracy of performance markers for several cattle breeds.

In recent years, multiple beef breeds have banded together to utilize a new software called BOLT to create an EPD system that is more accurate, thanks to DNA markers that are directly incorporated into the genetic evaluation. An added benefit is these breeds all use the same scale, making it simple and easy for buyers to directly compare and contrast a Simmental bull to a Limousin bull, for example.

As the industry moves to these BOLT-powered EPDs, or other single-step genomic-enhanced EPD systems, numbers will shift, outliers will tighten into a more accurate window and producers will need to mentally recalibrate breed averages and the numbers they are shooting to achieve in their breeding programs. Additional education will be needed for seedstock producers to explain these new parameters to their customers.

READ: BOLT software brings more reliability to EPDs

However, this change is an amazing advancement in assisting producers as they make genetic decisions. And by using profitability index tools, which most breeds have, instead of basing purchasing decisions on single-trait selections, we can now leverage this DNA information to make rapid progress in our programs.

READ: Here's why you should use indexes rather than single-trait EPDs

This information can help us choose replacement heifers that will breed within our window, milk well and calve easy. It can help us select steers that will make the “grade” with a higher percentage qualifying for premium programs. It can help us weed out the wild and mean ones, the poor-doers, the horns, the small scrotums and the poor-structured ones. And these accurate EPDs can help us make these changes at a more rapid pace than ever before.

It’s an exciting time to be in the cattle breeding business, and I can only imagine the potential of genomic-enhanced EPDs as we move forward!

READ: Terminal or maternal? Which should I choose?

To that end, BEEF teamed up with Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) and Synchsure (cloprostenol sodium) by Merial + Cystorelin (gonadorelin) by Merial to host a photo contest called, “Genetics in action.”

We asked readers to share images of their best cattle — the ones that are productive and profitable for their businesses. We received 200+ images, and each photo was better than the last!

View the complete collection by clicking here.

From there, we narrowed down the entries to 15 finalists — Emilee Holt, Scott Stebner, John Maddux, Sandi Wilkie, Jaclyn Wilson, Niki Stephenson, Kristin Mizner, Bonnie Dredla, Cindi DelCurto, Jayde Farbo, Stacey Ferguson, Morgan Cook, Hannah Gaebel, Kyle Klassen and Kyley Clevenger.

View the gallery of finalists here.

Then we asked you to help select our champions! This time, we are awarding four winners with $50 VISA gift cards, courtesy of BI.

Congratulations to our final four:

Sandi Wilkie

First place: “Replacing herself” by Sandi Wilkie

Stacey Ferguson


Second place: “Profit proven” by Stacey Ferguson

Hannah Gaebel


Third place: “Summer nights in Nebraska” by Hannah Gaebel

Cindi DelCurto


Fourth place: “New pasture bound” by Cindi DelCurto

Plus, we selected three voters to receive a limited edition BEEF cap. Our lucky winners are Jason Heisler, Jim Morrison and Brent Lawrey.

Thanks to everyone who sent in photos and voted in this contest! We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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