Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force pursues genetic discovery project

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force pursues genetic discovery project

The Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force held its third meeting May 7-8 in Denver. Since convening in late 2023, the industry-based group has been working to help the cattle industry transition toward widespread use of genetic information in pricing feeder cattle and calves. More than 95% of U.S. feeder cattle change ownership without the benefit of shared genetic information. Therefore, objectively determined genetic information plays no meaningful role in the value-discovery process in today’s feeder market.

Task force members recognize that, to get the ball rolling, more commercial producers must obtain and communicate genetic information on their feeder cattle and calves at the time they offer their animals for sale. If producers do not have this information, they obviously can't share it with prospective buyers. However, as a greater number of producers begin including genetic information in the description of the cattle they are selling, buyers will become accustomed to using this data as they formulate their bids.

To help move producers in this direction, the task force voted unanimously to create a Genetic Discovery Pilot Project focusing initially on 100 commercial cow-calf producers. Supporting breed associations were directed to voluntarily enlist five to 10 of their association members (seedstock breeders) that are progressive-minded and committed to genetic improvement.

Association personnel will work with each of their selected seedstock members to identify two to three bull customers that are interested in learning about the genetics in their own herds. Once commercial producers are identified, association personnel will assist the participating seedstock breeder and their bull customer in obtaining the registration numbers and average EPD ranks on bulls that sired their 2024 calf crop. By the end of this discussion, participating producers will have a better understanding of the genetic merit of their calves. The goal is to have at least half of these genetic-discovery evaluations completed by the next Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force meeting in September 2024.

Lance W. Bauer, Ph.D., director of breed improvement, Beefmaster Breeders United said, “The third meeting of the GMP task force was productive, after great presentations and breakout sessions discussing tools for identifying genetic merit, the task force voted to ask supporting breed associations to reach out and help educate commercial producers on the genetic merit of their current bull battery and discuss how they can use such data to help market calves.”

"It is great to see such a diverse group come together and openly discuss the issues of value discovery in cattle based on their genetic merit,” added Chris McClure, executive director, Santa Gertrudis Breeders International. “When you have every segment of the industry – from seedstock to packer – represented in the same room, discussing the challenges of appropriately valuing cattle based on their genetic potential, it is unprecedented. Now that we are moving into establishing concrete goals and methodology for more accurately conveying the potential performance metrics of feeder cattle to interested buyers, we can advance the industry by leaps and bounds over traditional methods of price discovery. It is exciting to see what is happening."

The next meeting of the Genetic Merit Pricing Task Force will be held in Kansas City on September 17-18.

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