by Tom Brink, CEO     |    Red Angus Association of America      

Accomplishing more together than we could individually is the reason 16 beef breeds, including Red Angus, are part of the genetic evaluation partnership operated by International Genetic Solutions (IGS). What started as a collaboration between Red Angus and Simmental in 2010, with the goal of creating the industry’s first multi-breed EPDs, has now grown to become the world’s largest genetic evaluation for beef cattle. Breed associations from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are working together to create a huge database of cattle performance records and genotypic information, and to share the cost of using cutting-edge software and technology to calculate the most accurate EPDs possible. What IGS is doing today is so large and sophisticated, it was little more than a dream five years ago.

To offer just one example of how working with multiple breeds directly benefits Red Angus, Ryan Boldt, RAAA Director of Breed Improvement, recently calculated that available data on Red Angus-sired calving events (and their associated calving-ease scores) is 20% larger through IGS than if Red Angus was conducting its genetic evaluation as a single breed.

Continue reading.

Updates to Growth Trait Predictions

Friday, 28 February 2020 09:31

Jackie Atkins Ph.D., Matt Spangler Ph.D., Bruce Golden Ph.D., and Wade Shafer Ph.D.

The genetic evaluation is constantly evolving with updates to models as new science is discovered and new technologies are available. One area under recent scrutiny is the prediction of growth traits (birth, weaning, and yearling weights, and milk). The IGS Genetic Evaluation Science Team is investigating the following five areas of potential improvement in the prediction of growth traits.

The goal of each of these changes is to improve the prediction of growth traits. Breeders and IGS partners should expect to see the implementation of improvements to growth trait prediction in the approaching months. 

 1. A new definition of contemporary groups based on the age of the dam.

Regardless of how users designate contemporary groups, the science team is considering placing all calves born from first-calf dams into separate contemporary groups (CG) from calves out of mature cows. Given the vast majority of producers actually manage this age group separately, it is reasonable to define their calves as their own CG. Handling these as separate CG is a valid way to reduce the environmental noise caused by different management strategies for this age group. 

2. Setting the genetic correlation between weaning weight maternal (milk) and weaning weight direct to 0 (compared to - 0.3).

The magnitude, and even direction, of the correlation between weaning weight direct and milk, has been long debated in scientific circles. In fact, there is a wide range of estimates that exist in the scientific literature. Given that, the science team feels the appropriate way to model these traits is to assume they are independent (i.e., genetic correlation of 0). We expect the impact of this change to be greatest for low accuracy animals.

3. Different variances for different sexes (heterogeneous variance).

Males usually have a higher growth potential than females simply due to gender. As a consequence, the variation associated with their weights also tend to be greater. This difference in the amount of variation between the sexes should be accounted for in genetic predictions. The IGS team is testing the validity of setting the variance of growth EPDs on a male base.

4. New DNA Marker subset.

As the number of genotyped animals has increased, so has our ability to estimate marker effects and identify subsets that are more predictive. Relative to growth traits, a new (and larger) subset of markers has been identified to add more accuracy to EPD.

5. Accounting for different birth weight collection methods.

When the IGS Science Team began looking into growth trait data, we discovered that not all birth weight CG followed expected amounts of variation in the weights. In some cases, weights are rounded to the nearest 2 lb increment or 5 lb increment. In other cases, the amount of variation was substantially reduced due to the use of hoof tapes (see the December 2019/January 2020 issue of the Register for more information on hoof tapes). There were also cases where the reported weights were clearly fabricated (for instance, all calves weighed 75 lb). Some of these data are useful, but they are clearly on a different scale and need to be treated appropriately. Dr. Bruce Golden developed a way to use machine learning to recognize unique features of each class of birth weight observation and predict how it was generated (e.g., scale weights, hoof tape, rounding, fabricated). By accounting for the various categories, the genetic evaluation is still able to use the records submitted that fall out of biological expectations for most scenarios, while more accurately accounting for different practices of collecting the weights. 

IGS PARTNERS WITH NEOGEN

Wednesday, 04 March 2020 08:05
 
The world's largest multi-breed beef cattle evaluation partners with the industry's leading genomics company. Here's what it means for ranchers.IGS Feeder Profit CalculatorTM - Marketing Backed by Genetics.
 
"We're extremely proud of the collaboration we have with IGS. It really is the first of its kind in the world," says Stewart Bauck, vice president of Agrigenomics for Neogen Genomics. "We will, along with IGS, be developing and refining a set of tools that we can make available to commercial producers so they can select superior females in a multi-breed or crossbreeding operation."
 
Jackie Atkins, Ph.D., Director of Science and Education says, "The IGS database is the largest on the planet for multi-breed beef cattle, and not only do we have a lot of data, but we also have a lot of genotypes in that evaluation. Because of that critical mass, we can do a better job developing DNA markers and what those markers mean for a commercial test."
 
During the past decade, seedstock breeders have adopted genomics to strengthen genetic prediction tools and resulting selection decisions. The IGS-Neogen partnership accelerates the effort for commercial ranchers.
 
"Historically, all of these types of genetic profiles have been for a single breed. If we look at geneticists and the knowledge that we've gained from their research across the years, we know that crossbreeding leads to hybrid vigor, and so being able to have crossbred commercial cows should really be the goal for any commercial cattleman because, at the end of the day, they sell pounds," says Jamie Courter, Neogen Genomics Beef Product Manager.
 
"We'll be able to pull from all of the information that seedstock and commercial producers report back to IGS and fully support the Igenity® Beef Profile to make it stronger and better than it is today," she says. "So it'll be a two-way street. The sales reps at Neogen will be able to drive people toward reporting information and data back to IGS while Neogen is able to pull from that data and strengthen our own products."
 
In the end, more data on crossbred commercial cattle reduces risk.
 
"That puts a proactive management tool in the hands of the commercial producer," Bauck says. "For $30 and in three weeks, I can get the same information as I could by spending $2,000 in two years to develop a replacement heifer."
 
Kenny Stauffer, Neogen Genomics Director of Beef Genomic Sales, says, "If you're able to tag a calf, you're able to take a tissue sample. Put the capsule in the box and mail the box to us. You send your sample to us and in 21 to 28 days, you're going to have your results."
 
As producers make decisions on where to spend their time and money, DNA testing offers a valuable option in finding genetic answers.
 
"DNA testing is a valuable tool that can get to answers faster for commercial and for seedstock producers," Atkins says. "It will never replace data recording, that will always be important, but the fact that we can squeeze more out of any single DNA test in the future, that just gives commercial producers a more informed decision to make better, more profitable choices for them." 
International Genetic Solutions (IGS) is an unprecedented collaboration between progressive organizations across the US, Canada, and Australia that are committed to enhancing beef industry profitability. The collaboration encompasses education, technological advancement, and genetic evaluation. Through collaboration, IGS has become the largest beef cattle evaluation in the world. 
  
 
I G S    S T A N D    T O G E T H E R
 
WHY IGS?

 

 

Data Sharing for the Good of an Industry

 

Matt Spangler of the University of Nebraska says the future of the beef business will depend on information sharing.

 

IGS and the Pursuit of Better Cattle

IGS Feeder Profit Calculator ™ Highlights Profit, Reduces Risk

Using the IGS Feeder Profit Calculator, cattlemen are able to provide sire information, regardless of breed, as well as preconditioning, weaning and health data in exchange for a Total Relative Value that compares the profit potential of their calves to the industry at large. That value, indicated on a formal certificate, can be used for producer benchmarking and buyer insight.

Superior Livestock Representative Clint Berry says such technology is in line with what he sees for buyer demand.  Continue reading.


A global collaboration of major beef breed associations seeks to empower commercial cattlemen with genetic insight and more powerful tools for better breeding decisions.

Modern-day ranching requires more information to produce better animals, and International Genetic Solutions is propelling the effort across multiple breeds. The aim is to provide more accurate selection tools that allow for head-to-head comparisons and maximum profitability — regardless of breed. “Tying all of that information together adds a lot of value to commercial and seedstock producers because it provides a set of EPDs that are comparable across breeds without doing a bunch of extra math to figure out how they compare,” says Bob Weaber, Kansas State University Extension Specialist.  Continue reading.

Check Out What We Have Done So Far

Wednesday, 04 December 2019 17:51

By Lauren Hyde, Ph.D.            |         

Nearly a year and a half ago, on Saturday, May 5, 2018, the American Simmental Association released the first full suite of multi-breed EPDs powered by the state-of-the-art BOLT software. I have to admit that the ASA staff, with the exception of very few (maybe only Steve McGuire), was very scared as to what we would find in our email, voicemail, Facebook Messenger, and so on come Monday morning. However, it wound up being so quiet, we all heard that mythical pin drop.   I’m not saying that we were perfect in our execution, but as your members started to evaluate the new EPDs, you had some well-deserved comments and questions that we were expecting.   We knew that the software wasn’t “done”. It never will be. In fact, I was still revising the 30-year-old Cornell software as recently as two short years ago. As with the old Cornell software, we will continue to update, revise, and improve the EPDs produced by the new BOLT software. 

 

 

 

Check out what we have done so far:

June 2018

• Developed evaluation audit reports on incoming record counts for ASA staff and IGS partners

• Developed quality control (QC) reports for incoming genomic data

• Started clearing up erroneous and missing genotypes among all associations

• American Shorthorn Association released IGS EPDs

July 2018

• Started parallel (aka beta) testing for IGS partners yet to release IGS EPDs

• Started delivering weekly QC reports to each association through the genomic pipeline, which routes genomic data from all genomic labs to the IGS partners and then the IGS database

August 2018

• American Gelbvieh Association, North American Limousin Foundation, and Canadian Simmental Association released IGS EPDs

• Added embryo transfer data to the evaluation

• Discovered and corrected duplicate animal IDs

• Began collecting feed intake and heifer pregnancy data from IGS partners

September 2018

• Canadian Shorthorn Association released IGS EPDs

• Initiated monthly IGS partner conference calls to discuss issues and updates with the evaluation

October 2018

• Red Angus Association of America released IGS EPDs

• Developed a web-based interface for bull lookups and QC error checking for ASA staff and IGS partners

• Established a “white list” to keep animals with insignificant genomic discrepancies in the evaluation 

• Adjusted the evaluation system to add genomic data on animals without carcass or ultrasound phenotypes 

November 2018

• Implemented a Java script to compute breed composition of all animals in the IGS database at a much faster rate

• Began a research project with CSU to develop a days-to-finish EPD

• Initiated a project known as Work Order 1 (WO1) in order to:   

– Remove erroneous birth weights from the evaluation   

– Separate birth contemporary groups between calves out of two-year-old dams from calves out of older ones   

– Include heterogeneous variances for weaning weight based on sex of calf   

– Remove the moderately negative genetic correlation between weaning weight direct and maternal and set it to zero   

– Implement an updated marker subset of genomic data 

December 2018

• Added trio (sire + dam + calf) mating checks to the QC error reports

January 2019

• Began investigating multi-breed imputation

• Started evaluating the latest version of the FImpute software package

February 2019

• Began refining the Zoetis arm of the genomic pipeline

• Received preliminary results on the days- to-finish EPD research project

• Combined the heifer pregnancy (HPG) data from the IGS partners and began refining it

March 2019

• Started to investigate potential improvements to the carcass weight-ribeye area (CW-REA) evaluation

• Fixed minor bugs in the online bull lookup tool

• Added birth dates and other supplemental data to the HPG dataset

• Received the first set of health data courtesy of Darr Feedlot

• Upgraded the Postgres evaluation database

April 2019

• Started exploring modifications to the utilization of external EPDs

• Tested several scenarios in the investigation to potentially improve the CW-REA evaluation

• Updated carcass breed differences with new data from USMARC

• Fixed a small bug in the docility evaluation scripts

May 2019

• Canadian Angus released IGS EPDs

• North American South Devon Association submitted external EPDs

• Began planning for the IGS partner meeting to be held October 23-24 in Bozeman

• Started building and developing server #5

June 2019

• Developed a standard format for sharing pedigree extracts among IGS partner associations in order to catch dual-registered animals more quickly

• Released data to Colorado State University (the leaders in PAP EPD development) for development of a PAP EPD

July 2019

• Implemented multi-breed imputation software

• Installed and configured FImpute

• Implemented updates to the CW-REA evaluation

August 2019

• Added Australian Shorthorn Association data

• Added updated American Angus Association externals

• Re-calculated progeny equivalents for each trait computed by IGS


I am writing this article on September 18. In just a few days, I will be traveling from Denver to the Rhine River in Germany to find out where my maternal grandparents lived before they immigrated to Chicago and met in English school. After my excursion, I will be finishing up all of my outstanding projects so that I can retire on December 31 to pursue my dream of coaching and teaching swimming.

I am fortunate to have worked with the best team in the beef cattle industry. The ASA staff is knowledgeable, hard-working, creative, and fun. This fantastic group of individuals has shown time and time again that it is more than capable of developing and implementing innovative science-based products to help you produce cattle that make a significant genetic contribution to the beef industry. I truly wish all of you — ASA members and staff alike — much success in your efforts to keep moving the breed forward and ensuring that SimGenetics continue to have a major influence in the global market.

The International Genetic Solutions (IGS) has recently welcomed its newest partner, Neogen® Corporation, to better serve seedstock and commercial beef cattle operations across a wide array of breeds. The partnership combines IGS, the world’s largest beef cattle genetic evaluation, with Neogen, the world’s largest agricultural genotyping company, to better service the beef cattle industry with better genetic decisions. “The mission of IGS is to leverage science, technology, and collaboration to improve the profitability of commercial cattle producers. Bringing Neogen in as an IGS partner is a natural extension of the mission of IGS,” says Wade Shafer, American Simmental Association (ASA) Executive Vice President. “This clearly positions serious, profit-focused beef producers to take advantage of the most credible and capable genetic awareness effort in the beef business.”

IGS is a global, unprecedented collaboration between progressive breed associations and companies across the US, Canada, and Australia that are committed to enhancing beef industry profitability. The collaboration encompasses education, technological advancement, and genetic evaluation. Through collaboration, IGS has become the largest beef cattle evaluation in the world.

Neogen Corporation develops and markets products dedicated to food and animal safety. Neogen’s Animal Safety Division is a leader in the development of animal genomics along with the manufacturing and distribution of a variety of animal healthcare products, including diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, veterinary instruments, wound care and disinfectants.

Continue reading.

International Genetic Solutions offers free, third-party validation on feeder calves.

 

Using the IGS Feeder Profit Calculator, cattlemen are able to provide sire information, regardless of breed, as well as preconditioning, weaning and health data in exchange for a Total Relative Value that compares the profit potential of their calves to the industry at large. That value, indicated on a formal certificate, can be used for producer benchmarking and buyer insight.

Superior Livestock Representative Clint Berry says such technology is in line with what he sees for buyer demand. 

“We sell cattle in all capacities, all formats, but the one thing we see continued pressure on is cattle that offer flexibility to the buyer, that gives the buyer a chance to have some value-added options,” Berry says. “If he can recapture from that purchase price, he can recapture a profit on his side. Whether those are export verification programs or cattle that simply grow and grade better in the feedyard on his side of the business.”

“Producers get paid to have better cattle. It’s common to see spreads of $20-$40 at market from additional information and value-added programs,” Berry says. At present, he adds, there’s no ceiling. 

“As we move forward, the genetic key in that is becoming more and more prominent for producers who are wanting to sell at the top of the market,” he says. “Being able to verify those genetics and have a record of those genetics is the key difference.” 

As a third-party validation tool, the IGS Feeder Profit CalculatorTM satisfies that need. Buyers who pay a premium on a set of calves will look to recoup those and add additional profit down the road at harvest. 

“In our format, they might buy a calf in July, that ships to them in October, that doesn't die until April of the next year. There's a lot of time frame between the day that he made the decision to do the bid price, and the day that he recaptures his monetary value,” Berry notes.

By leveraging what is there on the front end, success is more likely to follow.

“Having flexibility and having a security blanket, you might call it, for a buyer to know this set of cattle is better than the average goes a long way when you want to demand a premium for your cattle on the market,” he says. 

The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is offered to all cattle producers at no cost and is available for mobile use through the App Store. 

 

 

Staying profitable year in and year out in the farming and ranching business is not easily achieved. Perhaps there is no bigger case of this than with dairy farmers who have struggled with low fluid milk prices for years.

However, dairy farmers are realizing that their approximately 5 million breeding-age heifers and 9 million cows can generate profit from more than just milk. One of the most underdeveloped potential profit centers is the production of specialized dairy crossed steer calves and excess heifers that can be profitably fed and marketed by feedyards. With that in mind, there has been an exponential increase in the use of beef semen in dairy herds to produce more desirable feeder cattle.

Affordable genomic tests that give commercial dairy producers a look at their heifers’ genetic potential has helped make this happen. Dairy farmers can now determine if a heifer entering the herd has the genetics to produce outstanding replacement dairy females or would be better used to breed beef bulls to produce value-added feeder cattle.

Sexed semen is another piece of the puzzle that allows the top dairy heifers and cows to have only heifer calves, decreasing the number of females needed to supply a dairy operation with replacements. Statistics from the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) show how popular it has become to breed the bottom-end dairy cows to beef bulls, with a 59 percent increase in beef semen last year alone. To be sure, the majority of this increased semen in going into dairy cows and not beef cows.

However, the use of beef semen in dairy cows has often involved little thought in terms of selecting the right bulls, so dairy producers need a better strategy to make this system sustainable.

Continue reading.

IGS and the Pursuit of Better Cattle

Thursday, 06 June 2019 07:41

 

A global collaboration of major beef breed associations seeks to empower commercial cattlemen with genetic insight and more powerful tools for better breeding decisions.

 Modern-day ranching requires more information to produce better animals, and International Genetic Solutions is propelling the effort across multiple breeds. The aim is to provide more accurate selection tools that allow for head-to-head comparisons and maximum profitability — regardless of breed.

“Tying all of that information together adds a lot of value to commercial and seedstock producers because it provides a set of EPDs that are comparable across breeds without doing a bunch of extra math to figure out how they compare,” says Bob Weaber, Kansas State University Extension Specialist.

“It’s easy to make crossbreeding decisions where we’re seeking out specific genetic traits and inputs for our production system. We don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how does breed A compare to breed B? It’s all laid out and they’re on the same base and scale.”

International Genetic Solutions, or IGS, is a collaborative effort between numerous beef breed associations from the US, Canada, and Australia, resulting in the largest and only major multi-breed cattle evaluation system. With decades of data and nearly 18 million animals in the database, IGS Director of Commercial and Industry Relations Chip Kemp says IGS is helping producers make more powerful breeding decisions than ever before.

“You can directly compare a yearling weight from a Simmental to a Red Angus to a Limousin. You can directly compare the stayability or the cow longevity from a Balancer to Angus in the system to a SimAngusTM,” he says. “It empowers that commercial client to get past all of the clutter to make smarter, wiser, more profit-focused decisions.”

IGS uses a single-step genetic evaluation model that incorporates genomic and phenotypic information on purebred and composite animals. The collaboration allows participating breed associations to gather and analyze data on traits that are difficult to measure but economically important.

“We’re able to calculate EPDs on those cattle, and these cattle bring the power of heterosis and crossbreeding to the commercial cattleman as far as increased performance in their cow herds, increased growth, and productivity in their calf crop,” says Tom Strahm of the American Gelbvieh Association, one of many IGS collaborators.

IGS also helps cattle producers verify the value of feeder calves, weighing good management practices alongside genetic merit through free tools like the Feeder Profit Calculator. The goal: Better returns on genetic investments.

“The greatest thing it’s brought is just a better system for cattle evaluations and the collaborative effort of people working together through different breed associations. When you’ve got this many cattle in the evaluation, what you get is crossbred cattle evaluations that the commercial cattleman can use,” says Mark Anderson, North American Limousin Foundation executive director. “So in the race to make the better kind of cattle, the science we’re using today, I think it’s on the forefront and getting really exciting.”

  • IGS Feeder Profit Calculator
  • Non-breed specific, independent
  • Free to all IMI Global customers

CASTLE ROCK, Colo., July 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Where Food Comes From, Inc. (WFCF) (OTCQB:WFCF), the most trusted resource for independent, third-party verification of food production practices in North America, today announced that its IMI Global division has established an exclusive partnership with International Genetic Solutions (IGS) to offer the IGS Feeder Profit Calculator within its suite of verification services for beef producers.

The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator utilizes the largest and most comprehensive set of management and genetic data available in the beef industry to calculate the Relative Value of feeder calves in a one-of-a-kind, breed agnostic, independent manner. The evaluation and resulting value are based on both management and genetic criteria. The Relative Value, as indicated on a formal certificate, enables producers to benchmark their work to continuously improve management and genetic decisions in their herds. For buyers of the cattle, it provides insight into projected feedlot and carcass trait performance and overall profit potential.

“The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is the perfect addition to our suite of value-added services for our beef producers,” said Leann Saunders, President of IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From. “We have been searching for this kind of solution for years, and feel that the IGS tool is far and away the most inclusive and sophisticated calculator available in the industry today. By enabling beef producers to see the value their management and genetic decisions are providing to their operation, it enables them to have a benchmark from which they can make confident, knowledgeable choices about how to continuously improve their operations. As my dad has always said, ‘If you buy unknown genetics you never know if they are going to finish like an elephant or an ant.’ Knowledge matters and the IGS Calculator provides producers with one more tool in their toolbox to make transparent, informed management decisions.”

The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator will be offered to all of IMI Global’s customers at no added cost to their existing verification programs.

“Deciding to establish a partnership with a company like IMI Global was an easy decision for us,” said Chip Kemp, Director of IGS Commercial and Industry Operations. “Even in today’s data-driven world, this level of genetic awareness in the commercial cattle sector is woefully inadequate. Price discovery as we know it today most often does not take into account the actual performance potential of a producer’s cattle. The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is unique in that it offers a level of genetic awareness of feeder calves that have not been previously possible in the beef business. This, combined with the progressive, market-driven programs IMI Global provides, will enable their producers to market calves with the ultimate value-added package.”

To learn more, visit http://www.internationalgeneticsolutions.com/index.php/feeder-profit-calc.

About International Genetic Solutions
International Genetic Solutions (IGS) delivers objectively described, user-friendly and science-based genetic predictions to enhance the profitability of beef cattle producers. To learn more, visit http://www.internationalgeneticsolutions.com.

About Where Food Comes From, Inc.
Where Food Comes From, Inc. is America’s trusted resource for third-party verification of food production practices. The Company supports more than 15,000 farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries, processors, retailers, distributors, trade associations, consumer brands and restaurants with a wide variety of value-added services through its IMI Global, International Certification Services, Validus Verification Services, SureHarvest, A Bee Organic and Sterling Solutions units. In addition, the Company’s Where Food Comes From® retail and restaurant labeling program utilizes the verification of product attributes to connect consumers to the sources of the food they purchase through product labeling and web-based information sharing and education. Visit www.wherefoodcomesfrom.com for additional information. 

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, based on current expectations, estimates, and projections that are subject to risk.  Forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain, and actual events could differ materially from the Company’s predictions.  Important factors that could cause actual events to vary from predictions include those discussed in our SEC filings.  Specifically, statements in this news release about industry leadership and demand for, and impact and efficacy of, the Company’s products and services on the marketplace, are forward-looking statements that are subject to a variety of factors, including availability of capital, personnel, and other resources; competition; governmental regulation of the agricultural industry; the market for beef and other commodities; and other factors. Readers should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.  The Company assumes no obligation to update its forward-looking statements to reflect new information or developments.  For a more extensive discussion of the Company’s business, please refer to the Company’s SEC filings at www.sec.gov.

Company Contacts:

John Saunders
Chief Executive Officer
303-895-3002

Jay Pfeiffer
Pfeiffer High Investor Relations, Inc.
303-880-9000

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