NCERA225: Implementation and Strategies for National Beef Cattle Genetic Evaluation
(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)
NCERA225: Implementation and Strategies for National Beef Cattle Genetic Evaluation
Duration: 10/01/2012 to 09/30/2017
Statement of Issues and Justification
The U. S. beef industry presents unique challenges in developing strategies for genetic improvement of beef cattle because it is made up of distinct, competitive segments, each with multiple profit centers. Furthermore, because genetic improvement is accomplished almost entirely through the efforts of independent breeders and beef cattle breed associations (versus breeding companies in the poultry and swine industries and AI studs in the dairy industry) there are no broadly accepted breeding goals nor is there an integrated approach for genetic improvement across industry segments. Consequently, national genetic evaluation programs sponsored by beef breed associations have become the foundation for genetic improvement of beef cattle.
The development of National Cattle Evaluation (NCE) systems was accomplished because of efforts of breed associations and resources at specific land grant universities. NCE includes the collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of genetic information for almost every major breed (BIF, 2002). The success of NCE has been accomplished because breed associations pay a significant portion of the costs through contracts with land-grant universities. They also bear all the cost of data collection (NCR-199, 2003). However, the formation of the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) in 2001 provided new sources of federal funding to assist with NCE efforts. According to the NBCEC prospectus, the mission is to "develop and implement improved methodologies and technologies for genetic evaluation of beef cattle for the purpose of maximizing the impact genetic programs have on the economic viability, international competitiveness, and sustainability of U.S. beef cattle producers and to provide consumers with affordable and healthy beef products." Several members of the NCERA 199 committee provide leadership, conduct research, and hold regular outreach activities using the resources of the NBCEC (NBCEC, 2005). There is an informal relationship between the NCERA 199 committee and NBCEC. The NBCEC is focused on the development and implementation of long-term goals for NCE. The NCERA 199 committee is focused more on coordination of research activities and shorter-term goals. Also supporting innovations in NCE is research from a much broader network of scientists at other universities and the USDA. Results from NCE are distributed, usually biannually, to the industry via the beef breed associations. Technology adoption is exceedingly quick. The potential of this technology is enhanced through the outreach programs of NCERA 199 members, research and education personnel at the breed associations, and extension specialists at universities (NCR-199, 2003).
The beef industry considers the NCE programs to be very successful as evidenced by the widespread use of genetic information by the registered seedstock and commercial segments of the industry. Due to NCE, all breeds with developed performance programs have demonstrated genetic trends over time. Many of these breed associations are finding it difficult to continue funding NCE despite the growing demand for expanded information from industry stakeholders. Therefore, close coordination among researchers and breed associations is becoming increasingly important. NCERA 199 has been and will continue to be the best method for achieving the needs of NCE. The additional resources provided by the NBCEC have improved the general infrastructure of NCE. This cooperation will maximize adoption of innovative applications and technologies and will minimize costs by reducing unnecessary duplication of effort.
For the 2011 to 2016 project period, the following list represents examples of research issues and challenges to be addressed by this committee: 1) Development of genetic predictions for economically relevant traits, particularly those related to production efficiency, animal health and human health via healthfulness of beef products; 2.) Greater investment in integrative research that utilizes advancements in bioinformatics and functional genomics to exploit the genetic architecture of economically relevant traits for beef cattle production; 3.) Improvements to current NCE methodology and computational strategies that incorporate vast quantities of molecular data from different breeds and countries.
Provide a forum for discussion and exchange of information for the many disconnected and diverse research activities--biological, statistical, computational, and economical--that support National Cattle Evaluation (NCE).
Develop through this exchange new tools for delivery and use of beef cattle genetic research, including genomic information, to beef breed associations and beef cattle producers.
Update the beef cattle industry on current developments in beef breeding and genetics research.
Collaborate with appropriate groups (eg. NBCEC, BIF, and USDA/NIFA funded Integrated Projects) on research and outreach.
Procedures and Activities
The NCERA 199 committee plans to implement the following procedures and activities to address each of the previously stated objectives for the committee.
An annual meeting will be held each year at a host university or beef breed association. These meetings will create a forum for information sharing among members on the committee. Committee members will also explore opportunities to hold joint meetings with other committees, such as NC 1010 Interpreting Cattle Genomic Data: Biology, Applications and Outreach, to access new resources and share information from other areas of expertise. The committee will continue annual activities with the NBCEC at different symposiums and meetings. Specifically, members of the committee plan to participate as speakers each year for the NBCEC Brown Bagger Series (NBCEC, 2005). Committee members have been and will remain active in BIF, serving as committee chairmen and as invited speakers.
This objective will be accomplished through annual genetic evaluations for NCE and research that supports the development of tools for NCE. The NCE takes place biannually for many beef breed associations and weekly for the American Angus Association. The research efforts of this committee combined with those of the NBCEC will be implemented in genetic evaluations for beef breeds. Research results and ideas directly related to the success of NCE will be discussed with committee members at the annual meeting. This exchange of ideas should provide important feedback to committee members researching the development of new selection tools for NCE. In previous years, speakers have used the collective knowledge of the committee to resolve technical issues with NCE analyses. Several committee members will continue their research to integrate genomics information into genetic evaluation of beef cattle. These efforts will be coordinated with available funding and research projects conducted by members of this committee.
Committee members will be on programs aimed at informing the cattle industry of new developments in research. The BIF Annual Meeting and the NBCEC provide forums for committee members to present research findings and discuss implications to the beef industry.
Committee members will continue to work with NBCEC to provide symposia, online seminars, and meetings. For example, the ongoing Brown Bagger series provides education and outreach to various professionals that serve the industry. Committee members will also be involved in coordinating and participating in research activities sponsored by NBCEC.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts
- An annual meeting with an agenda focused on NCE will allow shared ideas and techniques to be rapidly disseminated throughout the entire NCE system. Thus, NCE, as the primary tool for genetic improvement of beef cattle, will have the latest developments incorporated for institutions, such as Colorado State University, University of Georgia, and Angus Genetics, Inc. conducting genetic evaluations. These developments will include new traits, statistical methods, and computing techniques (for cost containment) as well as innovation in and standardization of how results are presented to the beef cattle industry. Several breed associations and NCERA 199 committee members are working to develop a single national database for performance and pedigree information. An examples of this is the Beef Center of Excellence (Weaber and Williams).
- Industry and extension representatives will ensure that the research community is aware of NCE research priorities of the beef cattle industry. Their participation will augment the outreach programs of breed associations as well as those of individual university members. Those representatives will develop and present educational materials and programs to both seedstock breeders and commercial cattle producers on interpretation and use of NCE results.
- Members of the committee will technically advise beef cattle breed associations on matters of breed improvement and serve as speakers at breed association functions.
- Members of the committee are, and will continue to be, leaders and speakers at the annual meeting and research symposium of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) which is the primary forum for those interested in the genetic improvement of beef cattle.
- The committee will co-sponsor a BIF genetic prediction workshop in the next five years. Also, in conjunction with the NBCEC, there is planning for a symposium for genetic improvement of feed intake. Any workshops or symposia will be evaluated to assess impacts.
- Committee members will continue to participate in education programs for university extension faculty members and industry members using programs, such as the NBCEC Brown Bagger Series and the Annual Weight Trait Project meeting. Additional outcomes include the development of written resources on genetic improvement of beef cattle. The Brown Bagger Series and Weight Trait Project meeting are evaluated annually to assess impacts. A strength of this committee is representation from extension and breed association personnel. These members will continue to provide the research community with industry priorities. Industry and extension members present educational programs dealing with national cattle evaluation, genomics, and other animal breeding topics to commercial and seedstock producers. Educational programs will be evaluated to assess impacts. Committee members will serve as advisors to breed associations on issues dealing with breeding and genetics. Committee members will continue to participate in BIF, both as speakers at the annual meeting as well as serving on the board. The committee will co-sponsor with BIF a genetic prediction workshop, which will be evaluated by participants. Committee members will continue to participate in education and outreach activities, such as the NBCEC Brown Bagger series, which is evaluated annually by participants to assess impact.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
Information developed by members of the committee will be of critical value to the beef cattle industry and to research scientists working in the area of genetic improvement of livestock. The committee will actively disseminate information in several ways. Members of the committee are active in other interested organizations such as the BIF and work closely with breed associations. Information from the committee will be reviewed and discussed by BIF committees and workshops. Committee members will then make presentations at meetings such as held by BIF and breed associations. The BIF annual meeting is attended by all segments of the beef industry including commercial cattlemen, seedstock breeders, personnel from breed associations and AI studs, extension specialists and researchers (university, USDA, etc.). The potential flow of information is as follows:
NCERA 199 Coordinating Committee
BIF Genetic Prediction Committee
Genetic Prediction Workshops
BIF Annual Meetings
Continuing Education (i.e., NBCEC Brown Bagger)
Commercial Cattle Producers
Commercial Industry (e.g., MMI Genomics)
Officers will consist of a chair and chair-elect. The term of office will be one year. The chair will be responsible for organizing the annual meeting and for coordinating meeting arrangements with the host location. The chair-elect will be responsible for writing and submitting minutes of the meeting to the administrative advisor and to the website coordinator.
Prospective members will be invited to attend regular meetings by the administrative advisor or a committee member. After attending a meeting, candidates are eligible for nomination to join the NCERA 199 committee. The approval will require a majority vote of the committee members present.
Committee members and participants need to regularly participate in the annual events associated with the NCERA 199 committee. If a member of the committee does not attend the annual meeting, their absence will be noted in the report with a copy sent to their agricultural experiment station director. Furthermore, the committee member must respond with an explanation for their absence and inform the committee of their expectations to participate in the future.
BIF. 2002. Guidelines for Uniform Beef Improvement Programs (8th). Beef Improvement Federation. Athens, GA. Retrieved from http://www.beefimprovement.org/
Ishmael, Wes. 2005. Better Odds. BEEF. November. pp 48-51.
NBCEC. 2005. National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nbcec.org/nbcec/index.html
NCR-199. 2003. Implementation and Strategies for National Beef Cattle Evaluation. Statement of Impact and Research Needs. Retrieved from http://www.wisc.edu/ncra/impstate-animalproduction.htm