$Value Changes Explained
Changes to $Values — second-generation selection tools offer improvements.
Commercial users of Angus genetics have become very familiar with $Values, or economic selection indexes, during the last 15 years and have utilized them heavily in their selection decisions to select for profitability. Recently the American Angus Association went through a rebuild of these selection indexes, better known as $Values to the Angus breed. This effort led to an updated beef value ($B) model along with updates to its two counterparts, feedlot ($F) and grid value ($G). Plus, there has been an update to the cow energy model ($EN) and an addition to the Association’s suite of selection tools — maternal weaned calf value ($M).
While the indexes originally created in 2004 and 2005 served the industry well, cattle and management practices have evolved in the last decade and a half. Because of this, our economic models also needed to evolve. In addition, several new traits have been added to the Angus suite of expected progeny differences (EPDs), including calving ease direct (CED) and maternal (CEM), docility (DOC), heifer pregnancy (HP), and two foot score EPDs — claw set (Claw) and foot angle (Angle).
$B remains a terminal index, expressed in dollars per carcass, aiming to predict profitability differences for feedlot and carcass merit. It assumes all progeny, both males and females, will be sent to the feedlot and sold on a carcass-merit grid. The new model $B more correctly aligns with today’s heavier fed-cattle weights. One effect of the new model is to slightly lessen the current impact of carcass weight and place a greater emphasis on marbling and yield.
EPDs directly affecting the index include: yearling weight (YW), dry-matter intake (DMI), carcass weight (CW), marbling (MARB), ribeye area (RE) and fat. Selection on the new $B will result in more profitable feeder calves when fed through to slaughter in today’s market with payments made on a quality-focused grid. It rewards cattle who can compete on an above-industry average premium carcass grid while avoiding Yield Grade (YG) 4 and 5 carcasses and heavyweight discounts.
Maternal weaned calf value
$M is a new maternal index more keenly focused on fertility and functional traits. This index, expressed in dollars per head, predicts profitability differences from conception to weaning with the underlying breeding objective assuming that commercial producers retain their own replacement females and sell male progeny and the rest of the cull females as feeder calves. $M includes nine traits with a greater emphasis on maternal traits than any of the other tools currently available.
Traits in the $M value will include CED and CEM, weaning weight (WW), maternal milk (Milk), mature weight (MW), HP, DOC, Claw and Angle EPDs. This index finds the most profitable cattle when producers receive no economic benefit for traits affecting postweaning performance. It more readily focuses on the cost side of cow-calf production by putting downward pressure on mature cow size, maintaining progeny weaning weights consistent with today’s production standards and creating a favorable response in foot structure traits.
Cow energy value
$EN continues to be published, but uses the updated economic model utilized by $M. This index, expressed in dollar savings per cow per year, assesses differences in cow energy requirements as an expected dollar savings difference in daughters of sires. The higher the number, the greater cost savings per year. EPDs directly influencing $EN included Milk and MW. Many times producers in environments where feed resources are limited use this tool to find individuals that will be a bit easier to maintain normally by being smaller in size with a bit less milk production.
$F continues to be published, but is calculated using the updated economic model being utilized in the new $B. $F is an index, expressed in dollars per head, to predict profitability differences in progeny due to genetics for postweaning feedlot merit compared to the progeny of other sires. The underlying object being producers will retain ownership of cattle through the feedlot phase and sell cattle on a carcass-weight basis. Traits contributing directly to the index are YW, CW and DMI.
$G will also continue to be published using the updated economic model being used in new $B. $G is an index, expressed in dollars per carcass, to predict profitability differences in progeny due to genetics for carcass grid merit compared to progeny of other sires. The underlying objective to use grid value is that producers will market cattle on an above-industry-average carcass gird. Traits included in the index are CW, Marb, RE and Fat.
Weaned calf value
$W continues to be published with BW, WW, Milk and MW EPDs directly influencing the index. It went through its routine annual update of economic assumptions as in years past.
All in all these updated indexes do a better job of describing profitability for each differing segment. Moving forward, it is imperative producers take into account the underlying breeding objectives behind these indexes before applying them to breeding or selection decisions. For more information visit www.angus.org/index.
Editor’s note: Kelli Retallick is the genetic service director for Angus Genetics Inc.