BREEDER’S BLOG

Why We’re Sold on SAC BreedPlan (Whole Herd Recording)

by Ken & Wendy Sweetland

The SAC BreedPlan program is an easy to use genetic evaluation program that can provide very valuable direction to a breeding program to escalate the advancement of a herd at a rate that is, we believe, unachievable without measurements.

We feel that BreedPlan simplifies record keeping, as data is submitted on easy to complete ROE sheets that are generated at the SAC registry office (post enrollment of your herd). (We think even easier than individual applications for registrations.) Completion of the ROE’s include all information needed to both register a calf (code R) and/ or submit performance data only (code P). Following initial enrollment of your herd, each year you will receive a preprinted listing of your enrolled dams; updating that is as easy as stroking out “those no longer with us” and adding in any purchased cows and replacements entering the herd.

Performance testing, through BreedPlan, enables you to place all of your spring calves, for example, on a level playing field by, adjusting weaning weights to 205 days, yearling weights to 365 days and adjusts BW, WW, and YW in consideration of the age of dam. It also adjusts for twin births. It further allows you to break into contemporary groupings (with the entry of a single number code) a group of calves that may have been treated differently, for example, show string calves, or those raised entirely on native pasture. We can and do separate out our bulls, steers and heifers into 3 different contemporary groups to best assess genetic potential within group defined by sex.

BreedPlan not only gives us data within-herd but also rates our calves (via EPD’s) against all other Salers calves in North America born in that year. This is extremely valuable tool in selecting bull calves for development and sale and unmatched in selecting replacement heifers.

BreedPlan data provides performance ratings for several traits of economic value for each individual cow and bull in your herd and any AI sires that are used in both your herd and others. This is of particular value in your own herd to guide decisions to achieve your own breeding program goals.

BreedPlan provides relevant performance data for your customers in their selections from your breeding program, ie. your customer wants to purchase a bull to improve growth (high weaning/yearling weights) or decrease birth weights. Your EPD’s will more accurately define which bull from your bull pen will best meet this need. Bonus: One more happy customer (almost guaranteed)

The individual cow certificates, provided under BreedPlan, give a single page snapshot of each and every cow; her pedigree information, her own individual performance data and that of each and every calf she has ever had, including their performance and indexes within their contemporary groups. We find this certificate invaluable for many purposes:

1. Mating decision : her pedigree is printed right there, so you have easy access to that information when sorting for breeding groups, her lifetime “achievements” (based not only on her own data, but that of all her relatives) are at your fingertips. Where she “shines” and where she could benefit from being mated to a bull stronger in a certain trait (eg. milk) is clearly evident.

2. Identifying opportunities to “multiply” a certain animal of high genetic value via embryo transplant or to identify an exceptional bull calf to consider for semen collection either for in-herd use or semen sales.

3. Easily identifying those cows in the herd which are less productive or “slipping” in their production (due to age, for instance) or trending to a longer calving interval, thereby making “culling” or relegating to “commercial status” decisions easier.

The EPD’s generated under BreedPlan are influenced by the genetic relativity within the breed, so, the predictability of inherited traits is enhanced way beyond one bull mated to one cow, because they include all available performance information of all related animals within the breed within North America. Accuracies of these predictions (EPD’s) are improved as more data on individuals and their relatives is gathered.

Breed Plan provides base data to which across breed EPD’s can be applied to assess the genetic/breeding potential of your Salers dam or bull to all other performance recorded animals in all breeds.

While EPD’s are still the beef industry’s most valuable tool (at this time) in predicting the “genetic worth” of a breed and of individual animals within breed , exciting new technologies (DNA testing – Igenity /Genstar) and programs (BIXS) are adding to the genetic assessment toolbox. We believe that EPD’s generated by programs such as BreedPlan will continue to have much value going forward, because they are based on sound scientific equations and are now backed by several years of both historical and recent data.

As an additional note, enrolments in Breed Plan enable our registry software to generate more reliable stats like numbers of Salers females in the Canadian herd , # of registrations predicted, revenue predicted etc. and improve cash flow to assist our SAC Board of Directors in budgeting , and in projecting advertising $ that can benefit all breeders.