- Whitney Whitaker, American Angus Association
Data Driving Longevity
Advantages of inventory reporting.
by Whitney Whitaker, American Angus Association
“Picture me and two others running in a race,” said Jerry Cassady. “Kenny comes in first, Matt in second and I end up last. Among the three runners in the race, Matt sets the average, therefore Kenny is above average, and I am below average.”
He continues this story by adding more runners to the race. “With 100 runners in the race, I still end up in third,” he said. “However, the average is now bumped down to 50th place, meaning I am above average when compared to my contemporaries in the larger race.”
The more contemporaries, the more credit the higher-performing individuals receive.
The same can be said about adding more numbers to a breeder’s herd. When recording data on only the best five head, the fifth-place bull may not get the credit he deserves.
Take the same bull that sorts himself fifth phenotypically, then add another 100 bulls to the mix, and he could very well be the fifth-best bull of the entire year. In a small group, he does not have the opportunity to stand out near as much as he could.
Inventory reporting, another version of whole herd-reporting, requires every female enrolled to report data, whether she had a calf or not. This new option within Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR®) is an opportunity for Angus breeders to learn more about maternal and reproductive traits that are hard to characterize.
Performance-driven progressive cattlemen understand the need to capitalize on phenotypic data. Capitalizing on the data is important from both a genetic standpoint and an economic one. Angus breeders have been reporting data through the AHIR program since 1958.
During the 137th Angus Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Mo., in November, updates to AHIR were announced by Jerry Cassady, American Angus Association director of member services, and Chris Stallo, Association chief operating officer. AHIR will now have two options for members to enroll in: individual reporting and inventory reporting, which includes MaternalPlus®.
Individual reporting mimics the current AHIR data reporting system. The new inventory option focuses on capturing phenotype measurements while keeping current inventory of a member’s cow herd.
“A major advantage of inventory reporting is the system gives full credit to the high performers in the herd,” Cassady said.
This is done by accounting for every calf. By reporting low-performing calves with the high-performing ones, it gives an accurate picture of all the calves in the herd.
The inventory option of AHIR requires reporting a weight on the calf, the reason why there was no calf, or a disposal code explaining why the female left the herd. The information gathered with inventory reporting is especially informative for the American Angus Association and the Angus breed’s end goal — to focus on longevity.
With minor updates the original whole-herd reporting system, MaternalPlus, is still available for Angus breeders as an additional designation within the inventory option. MaternalPlus is a step-up from inventory reporting. Therefore, breeders must follow inventory reporting requirements plus the current existing requirements to earn the designation. Current MaternalPlus enrollees will utilize the existing Cow/Heifer Inventory List to verify all females meet their requirements. Once that is complete, they will use the enrollment wizard to complete the enrollment.
Once the designation is earned, the MaternalPlus logo will be displayed next to enrollees on the EPD/Pedigree lookup. MaternalPlus enrollees will continue to receive benefits such as CED [calving ease direct expected progeny difference (EPD)], BW (birth weight EPD) and WW (weaning weight EPD) on unregistered calves and additional management reports. The MaternalPlus designation shows the dedication of an operation as one committed to improving the accuracy of the Association’s data set, but more specifically, the heifer pregnancy EPD (HP).
How it works
To enroll in inventory reporting, members must use the AAA Login homepage. Located on the homepage is a simplified, step-by-step guide to walk members through the steps needed to update their cow herd.
One of the main objectives was making the enrollment process, including cleaning up the cow herd, as simple as possible.
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time working through creating a tool that does just that,” Stallo said. Any female deemed “active,” is a female either 12 months of age or has reported a calf within the last 24 months. This includes embryo transfer (ET) recipients and owned donor cows. Active females require a calf’s information to be reported, or if there is no calf, a disposal or reason code is needed. An inactive female is one that has not reported a calf within the last 24 months or a female that has been removed from a member’s active inventory.
During enrollment members can easily move cows between the active and inactive lists until their inventory is current.
The fee for inventory reporting is $2 per female over 12 months of age.
“A good way to look at it is if a member enrolls in January 2021, they are pre-paying for the 2021 calf crop,” Stallo said.
Individual reporting is $3 for calves paid at birth or at weaning weight data submission.
Another change with the addition of inventory reporting is the two enrollment periods. While members can choose to enroll in January or July, the most effective time to enroll is after the current calf crop is weaned and before the next calf crop has started calving. For example, if a herd is mainly a spring-calving herd, it is best to enroll from November to January. If a herd is primarily a fall-calving herd, it is best to enroll from May to July.