The Gelbvieh breed has a well-earned reputation as a strong maternal breed. In order to quantify those strengths the American Gelbvieh Association has engaged in research and development of EPDs and indexes to measure maternal traits. The results of this research are the creation of new tools to select for maternal productivity in Gelbvieh and Balancer® animals.
The American Gelbvieh Association has partnered with Dr. Mike MacNeil, PhD., of Delta G to develop the $Cow economic selection index. $Cow represents the genetic value in dollars of profit of an animal when retained as a replacement female relative to other animals in the herd. A higher number represents more profitable genetics for maternal productivity.
“$Cow will serve producers in selecting bulls that will sire daughters with stayability and reproductive efficiency as well as other traits that lead to profitability in a production system,” says Kari White, American Gelbvieh Association breed improvement data analyst.
The $Cow index includes several traits. The most essential of these traits are heifer pregnancy, 30-month pregnancy, and stayability.
The heifer pregnancy (HP) EPD predicts the probability that a bull’s daughters will become pregnant as first-calf heifers in a regular breeding season, expressed as a percent. A higher value of this EPD is favorable, meaning that a higher percentage of a sire’s daughters get pregnant as first calf heifers compared to other sires in his contemporary group.
Exclusive to the Gelbvieh Association’s $Cow index is the inclusion of a 30-month pregnancy (Pg30) EPD. The Pg30 EPD predicts the probability that a bull’s daughters will become pregnant and calve at three years of age, given that they calved as first-calf heifers. This EPD is expressed as a percent, again, with a higher number being more favorable meaning a higher percentage of a sire’s daughters will calve at three years of age, given they calved as first-calf heifers
The stayability (ST) EPDs represents the genetic difference, in terms of percent probability, that a bull’s daughters will stay productive within a herd to at least six years of age.
$Cow incorporates other traits that affect the profitability of a female in a production system. These traits include milk, calving ease, moderate mature weight and the ability of calves to gain. A female’s genetics also influence the performance of her calves in the feedlot and at slaughter so traits such as feed efficiency and carcass value are also included in $Cow.
By selecting on $Cow, cattle producers will make genetic improvement on economically relevant traits leading to improved maternal productivity.
Susan Willmon, director of breed improvement with the American Gelbvieh Association stated, “We continue to work with AGA members and commercial producers to create genetic tools that have economic relevance. $Cow will help producers to select more productive females to maximize profitability through their maternal genetics.”
For detailed information regarding $Cow visit the EPD Research page at Gelbvieh.org.