Angus at Work

Selecting Replacements via GeneMax Advantage with Decker and Courter

June 12, 2024 Angus Beef Bulletin Season 3 Episode 11
Selecting Replacements via GeneMax Advantage with Decker and Courter
Angus at Work
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Angus at Work
Selecting Replacements via GeneMax Advantage with Decker and Courter
Jun 12, 2024 Season 3 Episode 11
Angus Beef Bulletin

Determining whether to keep or market potential replacement females can be one of the most difficult decisions a commercial producer has to make. But even when taking into account the performance of a heifer’s mother, there can still be room for error when tasked with determining future productivity.

Enter GeneMax® Advantage™, a DNA test created in collaboration between Angus Genetics Inc., Certified Angus Beef® and Zoetis for commercial Angus replacement females.

On today’s episode, you’ll hear more from Shauna Hermel and our guests, Jared Decker and Jamie Courter of the University of Missouri, regarding the features of GeneMax® Advantage™ and how testing can help identify females with varying levels of genetic merit for feed cost, temperament and end-product traits.

Looking for more information on research backing the American Angus Association’s Hair Shed EPD? Check out the May 28, 2024, Angus University Webinar featuring Decker and Courter! 

Find more information to make Angus work for you in the Angus Beef Bulletin and ABB EXTRA. Make sure you're subscribed! Sign up here to the print Angus Beef Bulletin and the digital Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA. Have questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you! Contact our team at

Show Notes Transcript

Determining whether to keep or market potential replacement females can be one of the most difficult decisions a commercial producer has to make. But even when taking into account the performance of a heifer’s mother, there can still be room for error when tasked with determining future productivity.

Enter GeneMax® Advantage™, a DNA test created in collaboration between Angus Genetics Inc., Certified Angus Beef® and Zoetis for commercial Angus replacement females.

On today’s episode, you’ll hear more from Shauna Hermel and our guests, Jared Decker and Jamie Courter of the University of Missouri, regarding the features of GeneMax® Advantage™ and how testing can help identify females with varying levels of genetic merit for feed cost, temperament and end-product traits.

Looking for more information on research backing the American Angus Association’s Hair Shed EPD? Check out the May 28, 2024, Angus University Webinar featuring Decker and Courter! 

Find more information to make Angus work for you in the Angus Beef Bulletin and ABB EXTRA. Make sure you're subscribed! Sign up here to the print Angus Beef Bulletin and the digital Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA. Have questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you! Contact our team at

General (00:02):
Angus at Work, a podcast for the profit-minded cattleman. Brought to you by the Angus Beef Bulletin, we have news and information on health, nutrition, marketing, genetics and management. So let's get to work, shall we?

Lynsey McAnally (00:26):
Hello and welcome back to Angus at Work! Determining whether to keep or market potential replacement females can be one of the most difficult decisions a commercial producer has to make. But even when taking into account the performance of a heifer's mother, there can still be room for error when tasked with determining future productivity. Enter GeneMax Advantage, a DNA test created in collaboration between Angus Genetics Inc. Certified Angus Beef and Zoetis for commercial Angus replacement females.

I'm Lynsey McAnally and on today's episode, you'll hear more from Shauna Hermal and our guests, Jared Decker and Jamie Courter of the University of Missouri, to discuss the features of GeneMax Advantage and how testing your females can identify replacements with varying levels of genetic merit for feed costs, temperament and end product traits. So, let's dive in.

Shauna Hermel (01:24):
Hello and welcome to Angus at Work. We're here today talking to a couple of University of Missouri personnel to talk to us a little bit about the GeneMax program, GeneMax Advantage. They've been investigating a little bit on whether or not the program works as the American Angus Association says it should. So we're going to have that put through the test and get to hear the research results today. So, Jared, could you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do there at the University of Missouri?

Jared Decker (01:58):
Yes, I've been fortunate to be at the University of Missouri as an assistant professor and then an associate professor since 2013. Originally my role was both extension, so educating farmers and ranchers and helping them think through various old concepts, new concepts, how do we use the technology to be more profitable? And then also doing research. And then in January of 2021, I transitioned into a position that's heavy research with a little bit of teaching.

Shauna Hermel (02:36):
Okay. Alright. You like the teaching part?

Jared Decker (02:39):
Yeah, teaching's good. We're trying to help these young people understand the concepts and one of the things I really try to do in the course is help them make the connections about how they're going to use these concepts in their career moving forward.

Shauna Hermel (02:59):
So do we have a lot of students going back into population genetics and some of the things that we do here at the Association?

Jared Decker (03:10):
That's a good question. So most of the students we get, I think this is typical of most animal science programs, is most of them come in with the goal of going to veterinary school and many of them, instead of being interested in livestock or cattle that we would be interested in, I think a lot of them come at it from the small animal background. But the ag students that we have are absolutely top notch when I am talking to my class and trying to generate some discussion. It's the cattle kids, it's the ag kids who are the ones making the connections and can really have a conversation about these new topics that we're trying to cover in the class.

Shauna Hermel (04:00):
You bet. Thank you. Jamie, tell me a little bit about your background and what brought you to the University of Missouri and your position there now. Yeah,

Jamie Courter (04:09):
So my name is Jamie Corder. I am originally from North Carolina, but I made my way out to the Midwest about 10 years ago. I think it's been now. I got my PhD. I graduated from Nebraska in 2018 and my first job was working for a genetics company. I was their product manager and also technical services. So the idea of commercial genomic testing, the GeneMax thing that's very near and dear to my heart, that's the life that I lived for five years. I tell people all the time I was an extension professional, but I worked for a company. My job was to educate producers and to talk about the technology and why it's important and how they can use it to make a difference. That was my job. And so it was an easy transition for me. My heart has always been in academia in extension to apply for the job at Mizzou. So my role at Mizzou is I am the state beef genetics extension specialist. So any questions you have about genetics, you can always call me. I'll try to answer it to the best of my ability, but 60% extension and then the rest of it would be research. So I filled the role that Dr. Decker would've stepped out of in 2021, and I'm new, so I've only been there for about eight months now.

Shauna Hermel (05:26):
So how do you like rooting from a zoo football these days?

Jamie Courter (05:30):
Oh, I don't mind it at all, especially when they're doing as well as they have been. No, I mean, I'm a sports fan in my family. It's kind of interesting. My husband is not much more into the cows and the horses and so I get to pull for football. I explain to my husband what's going on and we've just enjoyed being in Missouri and being welcomed into the community.

Shauna Hermel (05:53):
Well, you come to a state with a lot of seed stock producers and a lot of commercial producers, so with a lot of opportunity. So let's talk about the validation project that you started. We ran some stories in the Angus Beef Bulletin and the Angus Beef Bulletin extra back in 2023. A little bit about the validation project at that time and what you had learned in the first year or so. But if you could explain how that's set up, how the validation project is set up and what you're learning.

Jared Decker (06:25):
So in the University of Missouri, we have a research farm in near Stickered, Missouri. It's called the Thompson Research Farm. And on that farm since 1995, they've basically been straight bred commercial Angus, so a lot of use of artificial insemination, buying good Angus cleanup bowls. And so we had this nice herd of commercial Angus females also as part of the management and the day-to-Day operations of those herd, they did a lot of data collection in terms of growth traits and especially a lot of collection in terms of carcass traits, carcass weights, marbling, et cetera. So we had all of this really great data in terms of trait measures. And so what happened over time is as each new heifer crop was being developed, the farm would simply purchase Gene Max Advantage scores for those replacement females. And so after a period of time, we had a pretty good chunk of those cows had been DNA tested with Gene Max advantage, and we had an undergraduate student who was visiting us for the summer and needed a project.

And so we handed him that data set. But the big purpose of this project, Missouri's obviously the show me state the project was to show or to test the accuracy and the value of these DNA tests, these genomic predictions for your commercial cattle. You bet. And so how well does that cow's value as a mama cow in the herd? How well is that value predicted by the DNA test? And so what we did in that research is we took the performance of that cow's calf and compared it to her DNA test score. That's really what the DNA test is trying to predict is what is her value as a parent.

Shauna Hermel (08:41):
And so you would be following that through to the calf hanging on the rail and what the carcass weight, what rib eye area?

Jared Decker (08:50):
Yes. So we didn't look at every trait that is predicted by Gene Max Advantage. We kind of looked at the low hanging fruit that we had readily available data for. So we looked at weaning weight, we looked at carcass weight, fat thickness, rib, eye area marbling. We also compared the milk prediction to the calf weaning weight.

Shauna Hermel (09:17):
Okay. Okay. And what did you find in that first year?

Jared Decker (09:22):
So that dataset spread from cows that were born in 2001 up until I believe the oldest cow in that dataset would've been born in 2017. So we took all of those cows and then we took the performance of their calves and compared it. And with that dataset for every trait that we looked at, the Gene Max Advantage score accurately predicted the performance of the calf accurately predicted the average performance of the calf. So in terms of genetic predictions, we're not trying to predict the performance of one individual animal. We're trying to predict the average calf out of that cow. And so looking at that, for every trait that we looked at, the Gene Max Advantage score was providing information on the value of that cow. As a mother in our herd,

Shauna Hermel (10:28):
That provides a lot of opportunity to increase accuracy to the bulls that you're breeding to as well, doesn't it, Jamie?

Jamie Courter (10:34):
Yeah. I think what was the most important or the most interesting to me too is a lot of times traditional selection of replacements was, oh, I'm going to pick the heifers that I think were born out of the bulls that I like or out of the bulls that I AI to or things like that. But what we don't understand is that, or that I hope we help people understand is that just because the bull is a good bull doesn't mean that every progeny out of him will be just as good. And so these tests provide that type of understanding of what DNA did, that heifer calf that you're looking at actually inherit from that bull, and did she inherit the genes that you paid for, right? Because you paid for that bull. There was a reason you paid for him, but did she inherit the DNA that you paid for?

And so Dr. Decker, I think you even looked at that in your analysis. He included, does the Gene Max advantage score tell you more about the genetic potential of that female than if you only knew the sire? And the answer was, in all cases, the Gene Max score tells you more than just the sire alone. And so it just shows the value that we've come such a long way. We're using genomically enhanced DPDs on the bulls, we're making good selection decisions on the male side, but let's make sure that we're selecting those females just as well.

Jared Decker (11:58):
Yeah, that leads me to kind of an interesting analogy. Every time that a bowl produces a new calf every time, whether it's artificial insemination, natural service, basically we're gambling, right? There's so much randomness in genetics, millions of genes and biology. And so each generation, every calf that is produced is a random shuffle of its parents' genes and chromosomes, and there's an infinite possibility of how we can shuffle that deck of genes and chromosomes. And so the really impressive thing about genomic testing is it allows us to identify how that deck was shuffled from the sire to the calf, and instead of needing to work with long-term averages or needing to work with expectations, we can directly test the DNA and figure out what was the actual genes that individual inherited from its parent. And it gives us a really clear picture of what their potential is going to be for profitability in your typical commercial herd.

Jamie Courter (13:22):
To marry off of that, I mean, I think what's really important is everything that he just said not only applies to the commercial producer, but that's why we genomically tested the seed stock level too. All of that sampling, that random shuffle, all of that is true. We can understand even at the seed stock level what those animals are inheriting at the time they're born instead of waiting until six, seven years later when they have a whole bunch of progeny on the ground. But the benefit of the commercial testing is that that type of information or that tool has not been available to them until recently. So what the industry has done is they've taken all of the work and the knowledge and the things that we've gained at the seed stock level, and we're now making that available to the commercial cattlemen. And those are tools that they have not yet had access to

Shauna Hermel (14:08):
From a practical standpoint on you think of how much calves are worth these days at 550 to 750 pounds by doing that Gene Max test advantage test on a heifer that could sure save a lot of development costs if she wasn't something that you wanted to put back into your herd. And she's pretty valuable on the market right now.

Jamie Courter (14:30):
She is. And I think that's one of the biggest conversations I would always have is, okay, you're making these selection decisions to get her to a year old to 15 months old only to find out that she didn't get pregnant. Right. Well, how much money do you have invested into her at that point in time? I think before the craziness of the economy now, the number we threw around in was 1500 to $2,000. I saw a recent paper from Mizzou that said it was actually upwards of 23, 20 $400 right now to develop that heifer to that time of first calving. And if with a fraction of that cost, we can find out earlier in life that maybe she is worth more, maybe I can get my $2,000 or my $1,500 out of her at the sale barn, then that's invaluable and it more than pays for the cost of the test. You

Jared Decker (15:20):
Bet. And just to circle back to the both side of things, the principles that we showed in this Gene Max validation paper applies whether we're talking about DNA testing, commercial heifers, or we're talking about DNA testing herd bulls. So we can either be at the mercy of the random shuffle and not know clearly what we're getting, or we can choose to have the deck stacked in our favor and buy those bowls that have genomically enhanced EPDs. What that's going to do for us is simply remove some of the risk of that bull purchase.

Jamie Courter (16:05):
I tell people all the time, it's insurance.

Shauna Hermel (16:08):
So now as part of the Gene Max Advantage test, one of the advantages of using it is if you have a multi sire pasture that you can discern which one of the bulls that calf would be out of, correct?

Jared Decker (16:24):
Yeah. That's for the various DNA tests available. Sire identification is one of the typical add-on that they'll give you

Jamie Courter (16:34):
As long as you submit the sire information. So these are the three cires I had in the pasture. Most of the tests that I know about, we will line up each calf to each sire as long as they have a DNA sample on the sire. We can't do it if we don't know who the sire is. But I think a lot of times too, that's kind of the light bulb moment for some of these guys because even just that piece of information, they learn which sire is working, which one is being maybe a little bit lazy, or maybe we have some dominance issues in a pasture that we didn't know about. Which one's siring, the heifers I I tell veterinarians all the time, which one is siring? The ones that we're having to pull, which one is causing the calving difficulty? There's a lot of things you can figure out just off of parentage alone.

But the other thing that I was going to say too, when it comes to this heifer selection part, these tests come with not only maternal predictions, but predictions on carcass traits. And so we know those traits are not always correlated, so they don't always go in the same direction with each other. They're a little bit antagonistic. So what we can find out too on these females is we can discern, okay, at this time this heifer's born, maybe she is worth more as a feedlot heifer than she is as a replacement heifer. And you kind of get a better understanding of her genetic merit a little bit earlier so you can make more educated decisions on that idea of how much it costs to develop versus selling her at the market today.

Jared Decker (18:07):
Sometimes we like to think about genetic prediction as this black box that's too complicated to understand. Basically what we're doing with A DNA test is we're doing parentage across the entire pedigree. So with the DNA test, we can find out who the sire is, but we can also measure the amount of DNA shared with the great grand sire, the great great Grand Dam. And as we make those measures of genetic similarity back into the pedigree, that allows us to differentiate which of those animals inherited the good genetics that are going to allow them to be more productive, and which of those animals inherited or which of those animals are similar to high ranking animals? Which of those animals are similar to low ranking animals? And so it's basically measuring genetic similarity, and that's what drives genetic prediction. That's how we're able to take all of these trait measurements and identify the piece that's due to genetics.

Shauna Hermel (19:22):
We know that we have 50% of our DNA from our mom, and we have 50% of our DNA from our dad, but actually our genetic makeup doesn't match up 25% to each grandparent. What we what do in an equation if we didn't have the DNA? Can you explain that?

Jared Decker (19:41):
Yeah, so

Shauna Hermel (19:42):

Jared Decker (19:46):
Well, and this is on podcast form, right? If we were sitting down at the coffee table, I could pull out a piece of paper and make a little doodle, but like Shauna was saying, we inherit 50% of our DNA of our genetics from our father, 50% from the mother, a calf, 50% from the sire, 50% from the dam. We can go back another generation that's 50% of 50%. So on average that's going to be 25%. So that's what we use if we just have pedigree information when we actually DNA test all of those animals, now it's back to figuring out that random shuffle of genes and chromosomes between generations. And so now I can say the expectation or the average is 25% between this calf and its grand sire, but when we have the DNA results, we can say, okay, this calf shares 35% of its DNA with this high ranking grand sire or this other full sibling, half sibling, et cetera. It only shares 15% or 17% of its DNA with this high ranking grand sire. And so the DNA information allows us to accurately measure that genetic similarity. In other words, how much DNA is shared between those relatives. And that's really what drives how these genetic predictions work.

Shauna Hermel (21:25):
And so when we think in terms of line breeding and we narrow down that gene pool and you get a more consistent product because you have fewer opportunities or options back there, as we're using more some extreme genetics on different pedigrees to make up an animal with an ideal, sometimes those can have a lot more diversity to 'em. Does this help define what that is?

Jared Decker (21:58):
That's actually a good question. So one of the things that people often wonder about is how do we vary the shape of the bell curve? How do we vary how much variation we have in the bell curve? And there's some misconceptions about that. So it's pretty hard to change the shape of that bell curve. Typically what we're trying to do with genetic tools is move that bell curve in the direction we want it to go. So even though we use that really high 17 Cavs bowl just due to the shape of the bell curve, and due to again, the randomness of biology and genetics, occasionally we're going to have to pull a calf out of that bull. And because we still can get into the tails of that bell curve,

Jamie Courter (22:56):
I call it losing the genetic lottery, right? At that point, if you have a CESE bull who is known for CESE genetics, but that calf inherited every bad CESE gene, not only from his sire but his dam, he has therefore lost the CESE lottery. And it

Shauna Hermel (23:12):
May have been from a great, great, great, great, great, great grand.

Jamie Courter (23:15):
Exactly, exactly right. And so that happens. And it's always the one, right? It's always the one. So a lot of times what people don't understand, and we brought it up with the GeneMax thing too, it's the performance of the progeny on average. And so it's not just one, it's the average. So if a bull's EPD is plus 17 and you have 30 progeny from him that year, it's highly likely that the average EPD of his progeny is going to be somewhere around plus 17. But you're going to have variation around that.

Shauna Hermel (23:49):
You bet.

Jared Decker (23:50):
And that brings up an interesting point too, or an important point I should say, is all of these traits that drive profitability in a commercial operation, they're all complex. And so what I mean by that is they're influenced not only by the genetics, but also by random environmental factors, management, et cetera. And so a lot of times our intuition or our mind takes us to a place where we're blaming the genetics when in fact it could just be something win amiss in the management. We had some random environmental factor that cropped up

Shauna Hermel (24:35):
Colder winter than normal, colder

Jared Decker (24:37):
Winter, et cetera, et cetera. There's all of these complexities and it's hard to actually diagnose when something goes unexpected, why it went that way. But from my typical interactions with beef producers is our intuition and our minds typically go to blaming the genetics or thinking about genetics. And I would just caution people to make sure that we're realizing how complex these things are and its inputs from lots of different angles.

Shauna Hermel (25:11):
You bet. So the makeup of the Thompson herd would've been how much percent Angus was it? Pretty much straight Angus.

Jared Decker (25:20):
It's pretty much straight Angus at this point,

Shauna Hermel (25:23):
Which is kind of what Gene Max advantage is designed to do. Right? The cow herds should be 75% Angus, which would be approximately a half blood Angus cow bred to an Angus bull. That calf would be a prime example of what would be this test could be used for. What do you recommend commercial producers use that test in order to do, besides, we talked about determining what sire that calf could have been out of. We talked about direction of the carcass.

Jamie Courter (25:59):
Yeah, I think I've answered that question a lot over the last five years, but I think my favorite answer is it depends. Those conversations, I love to have one-on-one with people because just as many different combinations of genetics there are from a bull to his progeny is just as many different ways that producers go about running their business or their cow herd. I think the number one economic piece that everyone can go to is that replacement heifer development. It's because that is, in most people's opinion, the most expensive part of a commercial cattle operation is the time and investment it goes into developing that female. But I think just with anything as developed as tools are today and as many traits and things that they kind of span, it's information. And so the question that listeners should be asking is, what can I do if I knew X or if I knew Y, what would that empower me to be able to do? What more accurate and what more informed decisions could I make? Because the answer is probably yes, we can help you do that.

What is it? They always say, we can't manage what we don't measure. And so this is just a way to measure the genetics of our cow herd and our replacement females. And even if you're on the fence and you're just kind of like, I still don't know how I could use it, I would almost say take, the easiest thing to do is to take a sample of your cow herd just to even get a benchmark on where you are. What do I have calving in my herd that would maybe allow me to select a less calving ease bowl? Or do I need more docility than I think that I have? Or just get a snapshot of the breeding decisions you've been making for however many generations of cows you've been doing this and use that to inform bull buying decisions. Because again, you can't manage what you don't measure. So to

Shauna Hermel (28:07):
Be what percentage of a cow herd would be, would you need to do as a minimum to get that first initial benchmark?

Jamie Courter (28:15):
I think it's really more the better, right? Always. But it's always a matter of the dollar added to that. I mean, I would be comfortable with 15% Jared shaking his head yes. So I mean, I think it just depends right on you and your comfort level. Now the negative is if you only have an average of your herd, you can't make individual decisions on that female. So there's pros and cons to that approach. But if you're someone who's just kind of getting started, give me a call, give Jared a call. There's other people we can direct you to introduce this topic and maybe more specifically answer your question. You bet.

Jared Decker (28:54):
One of the really important things is if you're going to pay the money for a commercial heifer genomic prediction, you have to use the information to make a decision. If I need to keep 35 replacement females and IDNA test 35 replacement females, my return on investment now becomes zero. Correct? Right. Because I have not given myself an opportunity to use that information to make a decision. And so kind of the rule of thumb is you need to DNA test many more heifers than you need to keep probably double, right? So in that situation, I was saying I needed 35 replacement females. I would probably want to DNA test 70 heifers. I would then get the DNA test results back. I would rank those heifers not by my favorite traits, but I would rank those heifers by the economic selection index that's going to maximize my profitability. And I would choose the 35 heifers who had the largest economic selection index. Now I've paid for the test and I've used it to make a decision, so now I have an opportunity to see a return on that investment.

The other guidance that I give commercial producers who are anticipating wanting to use genomic testing in their herd is they are now with genomic testing, you can create a premium product, you can create a premium calf crop. What you would not want to do is create a premium calf crop and then go sell it as a commodity. So I really encourage producers who are planning on or who are genomically testing their commercial females, they need to be making sure that they are either retaining ownership of their steer calves or they're marketing those calves through some sort of value added program. Because you're doing the work to create a premium calf crop, let's make sure you're getting paid for that premium calf crop.

Jamie Courter (31:19):
Yeah, I agree. The other method that I would say the test two, keep one, what I would tell people or commercial guys interested in start always start with the heifers if you can. So you can make that decision. But the ones you wouldn't keep, no matter what their genetics are, let them go because it doesn't matter. We have to who their mom is, we have to what they look like. There's a lot of things we as cattlemen, it's emotional decision. We have to have all of those boxes checked. But of the ones left that you would consider keeping, test them all and then use that information to make the decision, right? Don't waste the money on testing the ones you wouldn't keep no matter what. And then there's a lot of programs. I mean, on the feeder calf side, there's a, we're starting to see a lot of uptake with people who are willing to pay for that cattle with that type of information for the genetic merit in the background.

Correct. Because again, not only is it risk management for the commercial producer on his replacement heifer selection, but it's insurance for the guy buying the feeder calves. Because again, we've done a lot on these are out of X, right? This pin of cows or this load, lot of cows is out of this genetic line, and that's great, and a majority them are going to do well, but to say the marbling potential of these cows is X, the carcass weight potential of these cows or these steers is y, that's worth a lot of money to some buyers, and they're going to be willing to pay more because they know at the back end they're going to make more money on those calves. And so more and more, we're seeing more programs like that pop up. And even on the female side, if you're marketing bread heifers and you have genomic information that's worth something or that should be worth something, right? I know

Shauna Hermel (33:09):
They can use it within the genetic merit scorecard if they enroll in our Angus Link program through IMI, and there are other programs out there as well. It doesn't even have to be that. So once you have those values on your heifers, it would seem like the next stage would be to use that information to guide your bull buying decision.

Jamie Courter (33:33):
And that's kind of what I was getting at. So once you have a picture, and heifers are going to be representative of the cows. So if you want to say, I'm just going to start testing my heifers, because that's a lot more palatable than someone saying, test your whole cow herd, right? Because you've already made that selection decision that ship has sailed. And so yes, now you have the cow, and if you know what her genetics are, you can make decisions based on that. But as far as return on investment, it's that initial decision that makes the most money. But yeah, if you understand my heifer crop is low birth weight and maybe they need some weaning weight help and some help on marbling, then that's the bull you buy, right? If the CESE is already in the heifers, buy a good moderate CESE bull, but he doesn't need to be a plus 17, but maybe he has a little more weaning weight, then a more little

Shauna Hermel (34:29):
Bit more power to

Jamie Courter (34:30):
Grow more behind him, you can afford that because now the cav ease is in your heifers.

Jared Decker (34:36):
I think the big take home message here is that these genetic tools that we've had for 40 years in terms of EPDs, 20 years in terms of indexes, 10 years, 15 years in terms of genomics, the big take home here is that these tools work. We need to put that question aside.

Shauna Hermel (35:02):
It's not just foo dust.

Jared Decker (35:04):
It's answered. We've asked that question dozens of times, and every time the question comes back, these tools work. Now what the smart, savvy commercial cattlemen will do is they will now say, okay, how do I strategically use these tools to be more profitable in my operation? The question is not do these tools work? That's not fruitful conversation. The question is, how do I use these tools in my operation to be more profitable? That's the whole point of this research is simply showing, demonstrating that these tools work. They do not an unexpected answer. Now the opportunity is how do I mix and match these tools to help my operation be more profitable?

Jamie Courter (36:07):
The only other thing that I would add, just in case there are, I mean people are kind of asking the question, we didn't really get into the difference between tests like this and then genomically enhanced DPDs from the association. I don't know if that's fruitful based on the audience, but just in case it is. I mean, what people need to understand is that at the seed stock level through a GI, right, we are reporting pedigree on animals. We are collecting phenotypes and reporting them to the association. We are running Angus Gs or HD 50 K, and we are submitting that to the association, and we are getting back a very accurate estimate referred to as a genomically enhanced EPD back on that animal. And that is always, always going to be the most accurate prediction of performance on any individual.

Shauna Hermel (36:53):
And then as that data gets input into our single step evaluation, all the data in the evaluation is genomically enhanced.

Jamie Courter (37:02):
Correct. And so that is what we recommend on all registered seed stock animals. What we are talking about now is commercial producers are commercial producers because they don't do that, right? Whether they don't have time, whether they don't have interest, whatever the reason, and they're all valid. They are commercial animals that do not technically have access to that type of prediction. And so what we are talking about is in today, because of the work that is done at the seed stock level, a GI and American Angus takes that information and creates a product that will give information on the genetic merit of an animal to a commercial producer based only on a piece of DNA. So the commercial producer takes an ear punch, takes a blood sample, submits that to, I think it comes here to Angus, they submit it to Angus, and you get back what we call a, well, it's a score, but it's essentially a molecular breeding value or a prediction of genetic merit based only on the DNA. So it's based only on the DNA. And so it will not be as accurate as a genomically enhanced DPD, but what we are saying is it's still accurate and it still works for selection. It's up to the producer to make that profitable.

Shauna Hermel (38:19):
And what a time to be able to use that as we start to rebuild the cow herd and hopefully rebuild that cow herd with the genetics that will keep profitability for a longer time.

Jamie Courter (38:32):

Shauna Hermel (38:33):
Because as those producers can create a larger premium for themselves, they'll not only be profitable during the good market, but then also maybe have a little bit more room for margin when the cycle goes down. Again,

Jared Decker (38:49):
In beef production, we value tradition so much and we value this operation. Staying in the family tradition is what gets us through all of those hard times, the droughts, the weather events, the bad markets, et cetera, et cetera. But what I try to help beef producers think about is, am I going to leave a legacy for the next generation to be a part of this? And that's what these opportunities like genomic testing offer is. This is a new opportunity to make sure your cow herd is the best it can be to make sure your cow herd is going to be profitable for the long haul. And if it's profitable for the long haul, now the next generation can be a part of it. That's really, I think what we're,

Shauna Hermel (39:48):

Jared Decker (39:48):
Bet that's the opportunity and that's the challenge. If we're not going to embrace these technologies and some of these technologies are 40 years old, if we're not going to embrace them, are we setting the next generation up for success or to

Shauna Hermel (40:02):
Have all the equipment that they need to have?

Jared Decker (40:05):
So if you're on the fence or if you've been a naysayer, that's the invitation I would give you is to think about this a little bit differently and don't think about it in terms of this year or next year. But think about it in terms of setting up a legacy for the next generation.

Jamie Courter (40:26):
I think that's why we get so excited about it and so passionate about it is because we know the difference that it can make. And I think you've heard me say it this whole time, it's a tool. I keep referring to it as a tool. It's not the only thing, but it's something you have in your toolbox you can reach behind and grab to help you. And I think that's what a lot of people need to transition, that frame of thought of everything you've been doing, there's a reason you're still around, there's a reason that that operation is still going and all of the romance, all of the emotion, all of it is still there, but just use the tools that you have in order to help you again, pass that down to the next generation. And keep in mind, the generation interval of cows is high. And so the decisions you're making now are going to be what impact the herd five, six years from now. At the beginning, the decisions I think I heard someone say now will impact your herd for the next 10 years. And so you have to think about that, especially as we think about transitioning the herd from one generation to the next. If you're close to that point, the decisions you're making now are going to impact the herd or the operation that your beneficiary or son, grandson, granddaughter is going to inherit.

Shauna Hermel (41:48):
Excellent. Well, if a listener wants to get ahold of one of you two to be able to discuss what we've been talking about today, how do they do that?

Jamie Courter (41:59):
I would say the easiest way, just, I mean, I think our website at Missouri is pretty easy to navigate. You can just go on type in Jared Decker or Jamie Quarter, and our name and contact information should pop up.

Shauna Hermel (42:12):

Jared Decker (42:13):
Give me a phone call, not an email. It'll get lost in my email.

Shauna Hermel (42:18):
I hear

Jamie Courter (42:18):
You. That's why I said contact information. I didn't say email.

Shauna Hermel (42:23):
So do y'all have some extension programs coming up this summer where you'll be presenting information or

Jamie Courter (42:29):
I'm sure there's plenty. We'll both be at BIF this summer. The regional extension specialists in Missouri have me pinned out for as far as I can remember. So if you see my name on the schedule, I'll be there. I just may not know it yet.

Shauna Hermel (42:47):
So now BIF is in Knoxville, Tennessee, June 10th through the 13th. And are you all on the program for that?

Jared Decker (42:54):
So at BIFI get the privilege of speaking during the main session. And in that talk I'm going to be talking about how we can think about matching the cow's genetics to various challenging environments. And then in one of the afternoon sessions, Jamie and I are tag teaming a presentation on hair shedding and kind of the practical application of hair shedding, how we use that as a tool to help make a better cow herd.

Shauna Hermel (43:27):
Okay. And that's another research project that's been ongoing there at the University of Missouri for a while now.

Jared Decker (43:34):
Yeah. One of the things that I love about the Angus Association is that when you create a new tool that has value, they're going to pick it up and use it. And so it's been super rewarding for me as a researcher to see the Angus Association publish hair shedding EPDs. And it's simply a tool to identify those animals who have a better predisposition to deal with the heat and humidity that we deal with across the United States. And one of the other things that we've been thinking about in terms of hair shedding is it's also identifying those animals who are sensing changes in the environment and appropriately responding to those changes. And so I think kind of again, trying to bust up some myths is we've thought about hair shedding as a trait for the southeast. It's really a trait we should be thinking about across the United States, especially if you're a seed stock producer and you're sending cattle anywhere where there could be any sort of heat, doesn't have to be humidity, but any sort of heat that's really some customer service that you should be providing to your commercial customers.

Shauna Hermel (44:57):
That sounds like a whole nother podcast to me. What do you think,

Jared Decker (45:01):
Shana? I can go on and on and on. We're just going to have to call this good.

Shauna Hermel (45:07):
At some point we will have to wrap up and maybe touch that on another time. Maybe we can sit down and BIF and we can go further. That sound sounds good. Okay. One of the ways that we like to end up our Angus At Work podcast is just to share something fun and something positive it's going on in your life right now. So I should have warned you early on I did it, but maybe off the top of your head, what's something that's positive that's happening right now? Well,

Jamie Courter (45:36):
I can go first because mine's easy. My husband and I are first generation commercial Angus producers, and we just bought a house with 13 acres

Shauna Hermel (45:44):
Oh, wonderful.

Jamie Courter (45:45):
In Callaway County, Missouri. So it's kind of a big deal for us.

Shauna Hermel (45:49):

Jared Decker (45:52):
For me right now in this stage of life, I'm just loving watching my kids just excel as teenagers or becoming teenagers and just seeing them kind of find their place in the world. It's just been a super fun time. In my bio, I talk about raising my kids in agriculture so they know the value of hard work, and it's just been really fun to see the fruit of that coming.

Shauna Hermel (46:22):
Well, thank you. Thank you both for joining us today. We'll put that contact information in our show notes and a link to the University Missouri website there so people can get a hold of you. Appreciate everybody for listening. This is Angus at work. I'm Shauna Hermal, and we'll catch you next time.

General (46:43):
Listeners. For more information on making Angus work for you, check out the Angus B bulletin and the Angus B Bulletin extra. You can subscribe to both publications in the show notes. If you have questions or comments, let us know at ABB, and we would appreciate it if you would leave us a review on Apple Podcast and share this episode with any other profit minded cattlemen. Thanks for listening. This has been Angus at work.