Cattle Economics

What Is The Future Of Genetic Evaluation?


Table of Contents:

The ubiquitous genetic influence of Angus means recent staff changes at the American Angus Association and Angus Genetics Inc. could cast a long shadow for genetic evaluation in the beef industry. This commentary lays out the concerns of some, followed by a response from the American Angus Association that the program remains uninterrupted, current and performing normally.


“Genetic evaluation for Angus and for the industry has been instrumental in breed improvement and beef cattle improvement,” says Jarold Callahan, president of Express Ranches, Yukon, OK. “I’m concerned that we’ve lost opportunity, even if the American Angus Association [AAA] continues doing what it has in the past. What none of us can know is what potential has been lost.”

Mark Gardiner, Gardiner Angus Ranch, Ashland, KS, adds: “As a seedstock producer, I need accurate information to help our clients hit a profitable target. The biggest issue for us and our customers is whether we will be able to get genetic evaluation information going forward that allows us to create the cattle that make our customers money.”

Both are referring to the April dismissal of 12 multi-decade, industry-respected AAA employees who previously sent a letter of formal complaint to the AAA board citing concerns about association leadership. Among them were Bill Bowman and Sally Northcutt. Bowman was president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI), the AAA subsidiary that conducts genetic evaluation for Angus and other breeds. Northcutt served as genetic research director for AAA and AGI.

Join the conversation! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Bowman and Northcutt built upon the breed’s historically strong foundation of performance programs and genetic evaluation. They captained its next chapter, incorporating genomic data into the breed’s expected progeny differences (EPDs).

Genomic-enhanced EPDs offer seedstock and commercial users of Angus — operations of all sizes – as much genetic prediction accuracy for young calves as if the calves already had seven to 20 progeny, depending on the trait.

On the outside looking in, severing ties with Bowman and Northcutt seems akin to trading Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from the dynastic Chicago Bulls, and then telling the rest of team to go “win one for the Gipper.” Angus genetic evaluation will continue, of course, but some believe the departures create a kink in the thread of continuity — which frays confidence.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Are Express and Gardiner looking at forming and offering a private Genetic Evaluation Service? If so, are their views of the Genetic World universally accepted or self-serving?

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 20, 2014

Funny coming from gardiner. considering his ranch was big In causing genetic probs with only focusing on carcas and inbreeding.

on May 21, 2014

The REAL future for genetic progress does NOT lie in the fantasy manipulated numbers championed by the American Angus Association. Real world genetic progress will come from "manure on their boots" ranchers will an eye on profit……..such as the selection concepts from Johann Zietsman.

Bini (not verified)
on May 25, 2014

With all the problems I have been having breeding angus to angus (three toes on a bull calf, no anusus on two separate heifers, an overbite parrot beak on another calf and all from two separate "registered angus breeders") I will never again breed my angus cows to another angus bull. I have had it with the Angus hype.

Jordan (not verified)
on Aug 18, 2014

Why not try a Simmental bull over Angus cows. The Sim Angus calves are the best cross I have ever found. They top the market. The marbling from the Angus compliment the muscle of the Simmental. Email me for photos and details on setting up a program. Regards Sharon.

TexasLadyinCA (not verified)
on Jun 18, 2014

Wow Bini! I have NEVER had a defect like any of these in Angus, and I've done some serious line breeding. What lines have you used to get these types of defects? Are they registered Angus?

As far as what is happening at AAA, I think it is fair to say that we need to give Mr. Schumann a chance. We have no proof that anyone was fired, and they may have said they couldn't work with him and elected to go. We also do not know what he can do to pull all this together and make it work. If it is true that this all started over the board not getting information that was requested, how to do we know that those who left were really doing their job? We need to wait and see. In six months to a year, we will know if it was a big mistake or not. So far, all my information is coming back quickly and correctly. Can't ask for more than that.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Cattle Economics?

Wes Ishmael provides tightly focused analysis and commentary on specific beef quality and marketing issues of practical importance to beef producers.


Wes Ishmael

Among the industry’s most insightful thinkers, Wes Ishmael concentrates on industry price and market perspectives for BEEF magazine. Along with his monthly “Cattle Economics” column...

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×