USDA's Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) has released its table of adjustment factors to be used to estimate across-breed expected progeny differences (AB-EPDs) for 16 breeds (click on table icon below).

Using the table values, bulls of different breeds can be compared on the same EPD scale by adding the appropriate adjustment factor to the expected EPDs produced in the most recent genetic evaluations for each of the breeds.

These adjustment factors were updated using EPDs from the most recent national cattle evaluations conducted by each of the 16 breed associations. The breed differences used to calculate the factors are based on comparisons of progeny of sires from each of these breeds at MARC in Clay Center, NE. The analyses were conducted by MARC geneticists Larry Kuehn and Mark Thallman, with the assistance of Dale Van Vleck and Larry Cundiff.

For example, suppose a Simmental bull has a weaning weight EPD of + 25 lbs. (which is slightly below the average of 32.9 lbs. for Simmental cattle born in 2005) and a Gelbvieh bull has a weaning weight EPD of +45 lbs. (which is slightly above the average of 41 lbs. for Gelbvieh cattle born in 2005). The across-breed adjustment factors for weaning weight (see table) are 24.4 lbs. for Simmental and 7 lbs. for Gelbvieh. The AB-EPD is 25 lbs. + 24.4 lbs. = 49.4 lbs. for the Simmental bull and 45 lbs. + 7 lbs. = 52 lbs. for the Gelbvieh bull. The expected weaning weight difference when both are mated to cows of another breed (e.g., Angus) would be 49.4 lbs - 52 lbs. = -2.6 lbs.

Thus, the AB-EPD is 25 lbs. + 32.9 lbs. = 57.9 lbs. for the Simmental bull and 45 lbs. + 7 lbs. = 52.0 lbs. for the Gelbvieh bull. The expected weaning weight difference when both are mated to cows of another breed (e.g., Angus) would be 57.9 lbs. -52 lbs. = 5.9 lbs.

The AB-EPDs are most useful to commercial producers purchasing bulls of more than one breed to use in crossbreeding programs. Uniformity from one generation to the next can be improved by selecting bulls with similar AB-EPDs. Selection for uniformity is especially important in rotational crossbreeding systems for traits such as birth weight to manage calving difficulty, and for traits related to cow size and milk production to effectively manage feed requirements in cow herds.

In terminal cross-breeding systems, AB-EPDs for growth traits can be used to identify bulls across breeds whose progeny should have the highest growth potential.

Birth weight AB-EPDs are useful for selecting bulls for use on first-calf heifers to decrease the likelihood of dystocia.

Most breed associations publish EPDs on an annual basis. These EPDs predict differences expected in performance of future progeny of two or more bulls within the same breed for birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, and maternal milking ability (as reflected in progeny weaning weights).

Normally, the EPDs of bulls from different breeds can't be compared because most breed associations compute their EPDs in separate analyses and each breed has a different base point (where the average EPD = 0). The across-breed adjustment factors allow producers to compare the EPDs for animals from different breeds for these traits; these factors reflect both the current breed difference (for animals born in 2005) and differences in the breed base point.



Click to view table.


For more info on the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center’s across-breed EPDs, contact Larry Kuehn at 402-762-4352 or larry.kuehn@ars.usda.gov, or Mark Thallman at 402-762-4261 or mark.thallman@ars.usda.gov.