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HomeIndustry NewsAngusLink Releases Maternal Score as Marketing Tool for Replacement Heifers

AngusLink Releases Maternal Score as Marketing Tool for Replacement Heifers

As the cattle industry prepares for herd rebuilding, a new tool for objectively describing the genetic potential of replacement females hits the market and with it an opportunity for producers selling replacement females to market their added genetic value. The AngusLinkSM Genetic Merit ScorecardSM (GMS) draws on the industry’s largest database to evaluate the genetic merit of a pen of feeder cattle, and starting in June, its new Maternal Score demonstrates an enrollment group’s maternal weaned calf value to aid in the selection of replacement females.
“The Maternal Score is becoming available at a perfect time with herd expansion on the horizon,” said Troy Marshall, director of commercial industry relations with the American Angus Association®. “Maternal traits are generally more difficult to quantify because of the need to match cows to their environment, so it’s going to be a valuable tool for producers marketing or purchasing replacement females.”
The Maternal Score will be displayed alongside other scores – Beef, Feedlot and Grid – on the GMS as females are marketed.
Marshall continued, “This new tool provides a reliable way to compare cattle’s performance potential across our industry and rebuild with better genetics that are more closely aligned with targets that the marketplace has clearly defined: increase in efficiency and increase in the consumers’ eating satisfaction, primarily through increased marbling and quality grade.”
John Dickinson of Parnell Dickinson Inc., Auburn, California, is one of the Association’s board members.
“I see the same evolution coming with the Maternal Score that we have witnessed the past few years with Beef, Feedlot, and Grid scores already on the GMS,” Dickinson said. “In today’s marketing landscape, reputation and historical data are still very important, but buyers also want more tools they can use to mitigate risk.”
Information about individual component traits, specifically for mature size and milk production, will also be shared alongside an enrollment group’s Maternal Score; so, producers can better understand how a group of cattle would match with their environmental conditions. Dickinson said this appeals to both buyers and sellers because they can dive into individual maternal components.
“This is really exciting as the GMS Maternal Score is not only the first predictor of its kind in the industry, but also can you think of a better time for this tool to become available than when we have the smallest inventory numbers in over 50 years?” Dickinson said. “We will see a re-build and retention soon, and the Maternal Score can play a large role in moving you to the front of the market.”
To enroll, a producer must be AngusVerifiedSM through IMI Global, providing a list of sire registration numbers. Unique to the Maternal Score, the cattle must also have a predominantly Angus cow base.
There is no additional cost associated with the GMS program or AngusVerifiedSM, aside from IMI Global’s Age and Source verification enrollment, which includes an EID tag.
“There’s a lot of science behind this scorecard,” said Rafael Medeiros, geneticist with Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI®).
Scores are determined by the average EPDs of the bulls used to sire the current enrollment group and the cow herd’s genetic makeup. To raise cattle’s Maternal Score, a producer would want to select for higher Maternal Weaned Calf Value ($M) on registered Angus sires.
Medeiros, who led the technical development of the new score, said this prediction tool uses similar rationale to other genetic prediction tools managed by AGI®, and is supported by Angus sire data and data from the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center breed averages.
“If you’re not genotyping, this is the best estimate and the best value,” he said.
Medeiros added it is important to know that like the other GMS values, the Maternal Score characterizes the enrolled group, not individual animals. In this way, the program can also serve as an instrument to track a herd’s genetic progress to make sure the next calf crop is better than the last.
As a seedstock producer, Dickinson said he sees the Maternal Score as another profit-minded program he and other members of the Association can offer their customers.
“This is yet another service we are providing for our commercial customers and those continuing to pay a premium for registered Angus bulls,” he said. “We are committed to their success and profitability being a pathway to our own. When they build back, we want them to build back with Angus – not necessarily because of reputation or nostalgia, but because we can provide them with the highest quality and most accurate tools for production and management in the industry today.”
For more information or to enroll cattle, call 816-383-5100, or contact AngusLinkSM via email at anguslink@angus.org. IMI Global can also be reached to help start an enrollment at 303-895-3002, or producers can complete its contact form at www.imiglobal.com/contact.
– Written by Sarah Kocher, Angus Communications
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