Gene Editing, Foot Scores, Judge Selection, AngusLink and 150 Years — Board Covers A Lot of Ground
What do Angus breeders need from their Association? How can the breed ensure the success of its commercial customers? Those questions were applied to dozens of topics across the February Board meeting agendas for the American Angus Association and its four entities this week.
A breeder presented the Board with the first application for a gene edit in Angus cattle.
“It's new ground for all of us, and we're doing our homework, we're researching these topics, and we're not going to make a decision willy nilly,” says Smitty Lamb, Georgia Angus breeder and chair of the Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) board. “This is something that everybody's taking really seriously, and I think we all understand the gravity of these decisions that we're making on this topic.”
Lamb joined The Angus Conversation along with fellow Board members to recap the discussions of the week.
The AGI team presented an update on foot scores and the associated expected progeny difference (EPDs).
“A lot of people seem to think incorrectly that there's just a few herds turning in foot scores, and they put up a map of the United States and virtually every state had several people, herds participating it's growing,” says Chuck Grove, Virginia Angus breeder and current chairman of the Board. That improves its predictive capabilities, he noted.
Having tools for members is one of the important functions of the Association, but helping commercial producers was also top of mind, especially with the recent partnership between AngusLinkSM and IMI Global. The Association will continue to evaluate cattle and run the Genetic Merit Scorecard and build demand for AngusLink offerings, but IMI is handling the administrative parts of the process verified programs (PVP).
“I think in the end, those folks that are in the program are going to get the best of both worlds,” says John Dickinson, California Angus breeder and member of the Board. “They're going to get the best leader in terms of the programs. They're going to get the best describer of Angus genetics in terms of American Angus Association, and so I like that. It’s a win-win.”
Breeder feedback is encouraged on any board meeting topic, but one that received some special attention in the last several months was the judge selection process for all the major shows from junior activities to the pen and carload shows. Past participants completed a survey that the committee took into consideration as they evaluated the process and made decisions for the next year.
“We're putting a subjective evaluation on somebody that's doing a subjective evaluation of the cow, and then we're trying to combine all that together. So it's a very tough process,” Grove noted.
It’s one they work hard to get right, too, Dickinson said.
“There's not one person in that room that doesn't believe those kids showing the heifers aren't our future of our breed wholeheartedly,” he said, noting they want them to have a positive experience.
To hear the full episode, “From Judge Selection to the First Gene Edit on the Table: The Angus Board Recap,” search for The Angus Conversation anywhere you get your podcasts, or listen below: