Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

1. How do I contact the Canadian Hereford Digest?

The Digest office is in the Canadian Hereford Association offices, contact Jacob by calling 1-888-836-7242 or email jacob@hereford.ca

2. How do I contact the American Hereford Association?

AHA Phone – (816) 842-3757 – see also www.hereford.org

The & Performance

1. Why is it important to report ALL performance weights?

Complete reporting of any trait (not just weights) is important. By only reporting the top half or the few calves you wish to register, they are unfairly biased in the evaluation. Because we don’t have information on their entire contemporary group, we can’t identify where they fit within the group, and thus the resulting EPDs may not be reflective of the animal’s true genetic merit.

2. Do I need to include birth and weaning weights for crossbred or commercial calves?

Yes. While this information is used in a limited way at present, it is important as it provides insight into the cow’s production and may also be used in genetic evaluation.

3. Are taped weights good enough?

NO!!! Weights should be taken across the entire herd using a proper scale.

4. When is the deadline for submitting performance weights?

EPDs are now run weekly & published every Monday! New data is extracted every Thursday night at 9:00 pm Calgary time. Depending on whether data is recorded before or after this cut-off, results will be included in new EPDs published 12-18 days later.

5. Can I send in weights from previous years?

YES!!! If you have complete information on your animals, you are encouraged to submit it. More data will produce more accurate EPDs.

6. Can I enter my weaning and yearling weights online?

Yes. Contact Val at the CHA office for a password.

7. What is the importance of cow weights?

Cow weights provide a valuable indication of mature size, are related to maintenance costs and also provide valuable insight into production value, for example percent of body weight weaned.

8. When should cow weights be taken?

Cow weights should be taken at weaning time. While it may not be possible to weigh cows on the exact day of weaning, cows should be weighed as close to weaning as possible.

9. What are management groups and why are they important?

Management groups are animals that have been managed together, or given the same environment and opportunity to perform. These groups are important because they allow us to make more direct comparisons between animals. If animals were in the same environment, the only differences in their performance should be due to genetics, and the influence of their dam. This is key to genetic evaluation.

10. What is the difference between a management group and a contemporary group?

A management group consists of animals that are managed together. A contemporary group is a more refined management group that also includes factors such as sex, and age in order to make comparisons.

11. How many animals are needed in a group to get an index?

2.

12. How should I assign management codes for sick or injured calves?

Calves that are sick or injured should be grouped separately from healthy calves. Because of illness or injury it is unfair to compare these calves directly with others as they have not had equal opportunity to perform.

13. How should I assign management codes for calves from 1st calf heifers?

The evaluation applies an age of dam adjustment to account for the difference in performance of calves from first calf heifers vs. mature cows. If however, heifers were managed differently up to calving you may wish to assign them a separate management group.

14. Why isn't a single twin raised on its own dam grouped with other contemporaries?

Because of the impact of in utero environment a twin cannot be directly compared to single born calves. Data from twins is edited out of the genetic evaluation for the same reasons.

15. What determines a birth contemporary group?

The birth contemporary group is determined by the calving group code, the sex of the calf, and a 60 day age range.

16. When should a birth weight be taken?

Birth weights should be taken within 48 hours of birth using a proper scale (not a tape or a guess).

17. What is the average birth weight of Hereford calves?

Last 5 years: Female 89.6 and Male 95.0

18. Why didn't my calf get an index?

There could be several reasons. Perhaps the calf is outside the accepted age ranges, or is in a group that is too small to index the calf.

19. Why should calves 'fitted for show' be grouped separately?

Because of the special management show cattle receive they cannot be compared with the rest of the herd. For example, a single show bull cannot be directly compared to bulls left on grass over the summer as he has had extra nutrition and opportunity to perform. If you have a string of show calves of the same sex and similar age that have been treated the same, they can be indexed.

20. Why do we have age ranges for collecting weights?

Because animals have an aging pattern, we try to weigh animals at a consistent stage in the growth curve. This allows us to make more accurate adjustments for comparison of animals and calculation of adjusted weights and indexes.

21. What is the age range to collect weaning weights?

110 – 300 days of age.

22. What is the age range to collect yearning weights?

301 – 530 days of age.

23. What do the two characters mean in the GPR column on the weaning and yearling performance reports?

The first number is the breeder-assigned management group. The second is the calculated contemporary group identifier.

24. How is WPDA calculated? (Weight Per Day of Age)

WPDA is calculated by taking the animal’s weight and dividing by its age in days.

25. Does Average Daily Gain (ADG) include birth weight? (i.e. How is it calculated?)

ADG is calculated by subtracting the two weights and dividing by the number of days. For example: ADG to weaning = weaning weight – birth weight / weaning date – birth date. ADG weaning to yearling = yearling weight – weaning weight / yearling date – weaning date.

26. Why do weaning contemporary groups affect yearling contemporary groups? (i.e. If no weaning index, cannot calculate a yearling index?)

Because each animal is a cumulative total of its genetics interacting with its environment over its lifetime, it is important to separate groups based on pre-weaning environment.

27. Why should I take yearling weights?

Yearling weights provide valuable information about growth patterns, post weaning growth and mature size. As well, this information is valuable in prediction of carcass merit for traits such as yield and carcass weight.

28. Why should I ultrasound my yearlings?

Ultrasounding yearling animals is vital to measuring genetic merit for carcass characteristics. By ultrasounding yearling animals we can rapidly get an estimate of relative genetic merit (carcass EPDs) for traits of intramuscular fat (marbling), rib-eye area and backfat. This allows us to assess our position and make positive changes to carcass merit.

29. Where do I get information on ultrasound?

www.aptcbeef.org (Ultrasound Guidelines Council)
www.cuplab.com (Centralized Ultrasound Processing Lab)

Contact the CHA
5160 Skyline Way NE
Calgary, AB T2E 6V1
Phone: 1-888-836-7242
Fax: 1-888-824-2329

30. Why are accurate disposal codes important?

Disposal codes provide us information about why animals have left the herd. This is key to assessing fertility, longevity, and identifying specific weaknesses and strengths in various bloodlines.

31. What do I do if I can't find a disposal code to fit?

Select the disposal code that best matches the reason for culling or disposing of the animal. While disposal codes may lack some specific detail, they are attempting to identify broader categorical reasons for animals leaving the herd.

32. Can I record performance data from my commercial cows?

Soon.

EPDS

1. How do I get EPDs on my calves?

EPDs are calculated using performance information. If you wish to receive EPDs on your cattle, you must participate in the THE program and submit information such as birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight. If you choose to participate it is important to submit information on all calves, not just those you want EPDs for.

2. Why don't ET calves get EPDs?

The effects of the recipient dam on calf performance makes embryo calves difficult to include in genetic evaluation. EPDs on these calves will be based on records from relatives, and as they get older, on progeny records.

3. Why didn't my calf get an EPD?

First, you must submit information through the THE program on the calf and its contemporaries. It is also possible that the animal’s record was edited out for a number of reasons.

4. What does PE mean (Pedigree Estimate)?

A pedigree estimate EPD is calculated using the average of the Sire and Dam EPDs. It is a preliminary measure of genetic merit of the animal before we have had the opportunity to use the animal’s own information in genetic evaluation.

5. What does accuracy mean following an EPD?

Accuracy is a measure of how much information was available when the EPD was calculated. Typically, an animal with its’ own record and no progeny will have an accuracy of around 0.30. As we add information on progeny and other relatives, this measure will tend to go up. (Sire Summary – Accuracy description)

6. Why is accuracy important?

Accuracy is important because it tells us how much an EPD is likely to change. When we have little information on an animal’s genetics, it is possible that the EPD could change a lot as we learn more about it. Animals with high accuracy mean that we have a lot of information about them and their EPDs are unlikely to change.

7. Why does an EPD change?

EPDs are calculated using all available information on an animal. This includes its own record, records on its relatives and records on progeny. As we continually gather more information, we know more about the animal’s genetics and thus the EPDs may change.

8. If I have a bull with a BW EPD of 5.0, how much is my calf going to weight at birth?

It is difficult to say. Because environment affects performance the EPDs cannot predict the actual birth weight of an animal. If you were to use a bull with a BW EPD of 0.0 we would expect the calves to weigh 5 pounds less than those from a bull with EPD of 5.0. In one herd this may mean 95 pounds vs. 100, or 80 pounds vs. 85

9. What is the difference between the Calving Ease EPD and the Maternal Calving Ease EPD?

Calving ease is a measure of the ability of an animal to be born without assistance. Maternal calving ease is a measure of an animal’s daughters’ ability to calve without assistance. For example if we are keeping replacement females from a sire, we are first interested in their being born without help (CE) and then eventually entering the cowherd and calving without help (MCE).

10. Why is it called the 'Milk' EPD?

The Milk EPD is a measure of maternal ability. Various research projects throughout North America and the world have shown that selection on Milk EPD will result in increased volume of milk production.

11. How can a bull have a Milk EPD?

12. Why is this bull's Milk EPD so low?

There may be a variety of reasons for a milk EPD being low. A Milk EPD is a measure of the environment a bull’s daughters provide to their calves. If their calves are lighter than average then the bull’s milk EPD may be low.

13. How can a cow have a Scrotal Circumference EPD?

Remember, an EPD predicts progeny performance. Her EPD will be based on offspring and records from other relatives. Just as we like to look at a bull’s mother before we buy him as he can pass on maternal genetics, the same is true in reverse. A cow can pass on genetics for scrotal circumference.

14. What does the multi-trait analysis mean?

Multi-trait analysis means that we can accurately calculate EPDs using information from many traits at once and their interrelationship with other traits. For example, we know that several genes that control growth to weaning also impact post weaning growth. Thus we can use weaning weight information to more accurately predict genetic merit for yearling weight.

15. What does the Maternal Productivity Index (MPI) mean to me?

MPI or Maternal Productivity Index is the first selection index for Hereford cattle in North America. It is a single number that combines information on cow weight, stayability, milk production and growth genetics based on their relative economic impact. It allows for ease of selection by the commercial industry for overall maternal merit. (MPI description)

16. How can I explain EPDs to my customers?

The CHA has a variety of publications including a sire summary and other brochures that can be provided to your customers. Basically EPDs use all of the performance information available to predict an animal’s relative merit. It is like having a copy of the pedigree and then driving around all of North America to look at a sire’s progeny before formulating an opinion on the sire. (Junior sheets, articles)

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