Beef Cattle: Genetics

Competitiveness and profitability of any industry will be strong when a product is produced and marketed that is of value to the consumer. The same is true with Tennessee’s cow-calf industry. To remain competitive and profitable, a quality product, a feeder calf, must be produced to meet the needs of the remaining sectors of the beef industry and that results in a food product satisfying consumer demand. Cow-calf producers’ challenges and responsibilities are to put together cowherds with the genetic makeup to maintain profitability of the entire beef industry. Technologies and information are available that cow-calf producers can use to meet this challenge of making genetic improvements or directional changes in measurable, economically important traits.

Information and Resources


Link Pointer The Difference in Accuracy (ACC), Percentile Ranking (%) and Genomic Scores of EPDs
Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) provide a means of estimating an animal’s genetic value as a parent for a particular trait. The EPD is used in selection programs by predicting differences in progeny performance of a particular trait between prospective parents. Included in the calculation of an individual’s EPD are its own performance record for a particular trait along with records on ancestors in the individual’s pedigree.

Link Pointer Crossbreeding in Beef Cattle
Improving the productivity and efficiency of a commercial beef production operation through genetic methods can be accomplished in two ways. One is by selection within a breed to improve economically important traits that contribute to the overall productivity of the straight breeding operation. The other method is implementing a crossbreeding program utilizing more than one breed.

Link Pointer Across-Breed EPD Adjustments
Most beef breed associations publish EPDs either on an annual, biannual or weekly basis. These EPDs are used to predict expected differences in performance of future progeny between two or more bulls within their same breed for performance traits.

Link Pointer Color Patterns in Beef Cattle
This fact sheet explains how color is inherited in cattle. Knowledge of the inheritance of color allows breeders to predict the color patterns to expect among calves when using different breeds in a cross-breeding program.

Link Pointer What Should Be Considered in Bull Selection
Outlines considerations for selecting sires, including type of breed, saving replacement heifers, increasing weaning weight and frame size, concerns about temperament, and where to find bulls.

Link Pointer Angus Cow Longevity Estimates and Relationship to Production Traits
Sire summaries are produced and published twice a year by breed associations to provide up to date genetic evaluations on progeny of proven sires within their breeds. The sire summary formats may vary between breeds.

Link Pointer EPDs and Accuracy
Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) are reported by most major breed associations and are a means of estimating an individual’s genetic value as a parent for a particular trait. The EPD is a means of predicting differences between progeny performance in a particular trait between prospective animals.