"EPDs are our best selection tools, particularly as producers are hearing a lot about genomics right now," says Sally Northcutt, genetic research director with the American Angus Association. "For example, we’re including more than 40,000 HD 50K genomic results into our genetic evaluation for EPD traits and dollar value ($Value) indexes each week. Those EPDs and indexes are updated online every Friday morning. These updates include any information that is submitted on an animal in a weekly timeframe—whether it’s genomics or phenotypic data," she says.
However, as Bob Weaber, Kansas State University Extension specialist says, not all EPDs are valuable in each situation, and not every trait that is valuable has an EPD. "Do not get distracted—many breeds produce more than a dozen EPDs. Not all of those are equally important, given your production scenario," Weaber says. "If you are going to use selection indexes, which I encourage you to do, use the right ones. Indexes do a good job of providing the appropriate economic weight on different traits to a specific market endpoint.
"So if you sell calves at weaning time, use the index for weaning. If you sell calves out of the feedlot, use the feedlot index. If you sell on the rail, in a grade and yield grid-base system, use an index that reflects that," he says. "We should not use terminal indexes, like $Beef from the Angus, MTI (Mainstream Terminal Index) from Limousin or TI (Terminal Index) from Simmental as vectors to select replacement heifers because there is zero emphasis on maternal traits."