AWA Friday Newsletter - November 19, 2021

AWA Friday Newsletter - November 19, 2021 To receive our weekly newsletter in your inbox, contact the AWA office and request to be added to our email list.

It’s time to make entries for the National Western Stock Show, Denver Colorado.  See more information below and a link to the NWSS website to complete entries.
It’s also time to showcase your ranch and breeding program in the 2022 Breeders Guide. Ads are due by December 1, 2021. Call or email the AWA office today to reserve your spot. 

The AWA Breeders Guide is a key component of the AWA promotion efforts for the year to be distributed at shows, conferences, and new breeder packets. See more information below.

Don't be a Numbers Ninny When Reporting Seedstock
Here's why selectively reporting your data is a really bad idea. 

By Burt Rutherford

If seedstock producers are anything, they are numbers driven. Between actual data on the bulls and females they sell, along with EPDs or indexes and the new genomic tools now commonplace, it seems the numbers take up more space than the pictures in a sale catalog.

  Why are those numbers important? Because, said Dr. Mark Enns, they serve as the basis of genetic improvement. Speaking during the American Wagyu Association 2021 annual conference in Fort Collins, Colo., Enns told Wagyu breeders that collecting and reporting complete and accurate data translates to better, more accurate EPDs. And EPDs give beef producers one of the best means for making genetic improvement over the long haul.

Enns, a geneticist at Colorado State University (CSU) who works with a number of breed associations in their genetic evaluation, stressed to Wagyu breeders the importance in reporting data on all their cattle.

There are four things that determine how fast genetic improvement can be made, he said. The first is selection intensity. “How picky are you at choosing animals to go into your breeding herd? The more picky you are, in general, the faster the rate of genetic progress.”

The second is generation interval. “How quickly do you put in replacements? Because if you’re making genetic progress, the youngest animals in your herd should genetically be the superior ones.”

The third is how much genetic variability exists in the population. “The third one’s not really under our control, but the fourth one is, and that’s how good we are at (genetically) selecting the best animals to go into our breeding program,” he told Wagyu breeders.

And that’s where complete and accurate reporting becomes really important. But it’s tempting to report data just on the good ones and leave the bottom end of a contemporary group out.

He gave Wagyu breeders two hypothetical examples to show why that’s not a good idea. Enns took a hypothetical group of 10 animals in a contemporary group. A contemporary group is defined as a group of animals that are tested together under the same environmental conditions. That reduces the environmental effects of things like ration, weather and others, allowing the animals to compete head-to head on genetic merit.

Enns determined an average weight for all the animals in the pen, then calculated the deviation. The hypothetical average was 1,035 pounds. The best animal in the pen weighed 1,200 pounds, with a 165 pound deviation to the upside.

However, when Enns pulled out the bottom end, that reduced the deviation of the top animal to 70 pounds. “So selective reporting, reducing the bottom end, actually makes my best animal look worse.”

Enns then showed data produced by Dr. Scott Speidel, another geneticist at CSU, who looked at what happens to EPDs when the bottom end is removed from the reported data. In this example, Speidel cut out the bottom 25 percent of birth weights and the worst 33 percent on weaning weights. He then calculated EPDs on both groups—the group where data was reported on all the animals and the group where the bottom end was eliminated. That showed a 60 percent loss in prediction efficiency for the sires in the population, Enns said.

However, a breeder might respond, the ranking of the animals will be the same whether or not I report all the data, right? The best bull will still be the best bull.

Nope, Enns said. While it’s not perfect, a ranking correlation will show a change in how the bulls compare. “You could choose the wrong sire based on selective reporting of information to use in your breeding program,” he told Wagyu breeders.

“When you submit data, we want you to submit it on all the animals in the contemporary group, even the bad ones, because that helps your good ones look even better. It gives us a better EPD and better spread in EPDs for the traits you’re interested in.”

For Wagyu beef, there’s a unique problem, however. That’s because the USDA grading system stops at Prime and that’s where Wagyu beef starts.

So CSU and the American Wagyu Association are working to collect carcass data on Wagyu-influenced fed cattle in an effort to develop a system to better delineate marbling scores. “If this is successful, which we have every reason to believe it will be, we’ll be able to produce EPDs that better identify the superior animals for marbling capability,” he told Wagyu breeders.

Since the project collects carcass data, not all the animals will be purebred or fullblood Wagyu. That’s not a problem, Enns said. “What we need is a link to the pedigree. So if you have commercial females that produce progeny but were bred to a registered Wagyu bull, that’s still useful for genetic improvement.”

For more information about Wagyu, navigate to

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Did You Know?

Male and Female Lease Agreements

Did you know that you can record male and female lease agreements electronically through Digital Beef?

To record a lease agreement, go to Herd Mgmt: Breeding and select either Male Agreements if you have leased a bull, or Female Leases if you have leased a female.

You will be redirected to the respective Lease Agreement menu. There are three tabs to select from where you can either add a new lease for one of your animals, view lease records already on file for your animals, or view lease records for animals that you have borrowed from other members.

To add a new lease, select the first tab from the left. You will need to enter the member number of the person you are leasing the animal to at the top of the page. Then you will select the animals you are leasing to that member and enter the dates of the lease. If the lease is ongoing, you can leave the end date blank.

Once you have completed this step, you can click the ‘Record Agreements’ button at the bottom of the form to record the lease. This animal will now show under the tab that displays lease records on file for your animals.



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