Brangus Provides New Selection Tools to Commercial Cattlemen

SAN ANTONIO, TX [OCT. 22, 2012]– The International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) continues to stay on the cutting edge of the latest technology by providing tools for commercial cattlemen to assist in comparing the expected performance of Brangus sired offspring to that of other breeds. These most advanced tools are Calving Ease EPDs, including Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Maternal, which take into consideration the weight and shape of the calf, gestation length and breed of the sire.

“In the past we have only had birth weight EPDs which is extremely important when comparing two or more bulls’ calves within a herd or across herds from the stand point of expected birth weight,” said Joseph Massey, Ph.D., IBBA’s Executive Vice President. “But since birth weight is positively correlated with growth, there has been a tendency for producers to believe that bulls with growth potential will also produce heavier calves, therefore increasing calving difficulty.”

Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Maternal clearly help to identify sires that produce calves with growth potential and expected calving ease. While the Brangus breed has always been known as an easy calving breed, the Brangus breed has also become a performance-oriented breed, which has caused some producers to believe that Brangus calves would have calving difficulties like other breeds that have experienced this effect.

Massey said the Calving Ease EPDs will be very beneficial in identifying Brangus sires with both growth EPDs and highly desirable calving ease. This will be even more useful to commercial producers that have already discovered Brangus sired calves have excellent growth with little to no calving difficulties.

Calving Ease Direct is a measure of the ease of which a bull’s calves will be born since it is taking into account more than weight, like shape of the calves, and it is well established that Brangus calves have a tendency to be longer and narrower at birth than the British or Continental breeds. While Calving Ease Maternal is equally valuable, it may not be used as much at the commercial level since many, if not most, calves are terminal and most females never have a chance to produce offspring. However, it will have an important role when commercial females are retained for replacement.

As a commercial producer, understanding Calving Ease EPDs and knowing when and how to use them will pay great dividends, especially when selecting easy calving bulls with high performance EPDs. While Calving Ease EPDs have been available within other breeds, it has not been until the multi-breed models have become available that calving ease could be calculated for composite breeds or percentage cattle as recorded by other breed associations.

All commercial producers interested in evaluating Brangus Calving Ease EPDs are encouraged to visit the website at or call the IBBA office at 210-696-8231 for information on any specific animals of interest. All EPDs are available to anyone for review.

50K Genotyping Project: We Need Your Help

IBBA Continues to Gather Samples for 50k Genotyping Project and Genome-assisted EPD Development

Dear Brangus Breeder:

The Breed Improvement Committee met in Houston on March 1, 2012, and discussed our effort to accrue approximately 800 DNA samples from Brangus cattle for 50k genotyping with the Illumina BovineSNP50 assay. These data will be used to develop genome-assisted genetic evaluation (i.e., gEPD). To date, 200 samples have been catalogued at IBBA. This project is occurring in three phases. First, DNA samples need to be collected and catalogued. This will prevent duplication and allow us to keep on budget. Once the samples are received, we will ship them to the DNA service provider, GeneSeek, to obtain the 50k genotypes (i.e., 54,000 genotypes/animal). Last, Drs. Dorian Garrick (Iowa State University) and Milt Thomas (Colorado State University) will coordinate genetic prediction research using the 50k profiles. Any resulting capabilities will then be incorporated into our National Cattle Evaluation by the University of Georgia.

Dr. Milt Thomas and coworkers conducted a pedigree analysis of the IBBA database and learned that there are 17 prominent families-clusters and the samples we have obtained do a good job of representing these families. However, we still need to gather 600 new samples to have enough data for the project. Please contribute DNA from any registered Brangus animal, bull or cow, that has a weaning weight EPD accuracy of 0.35 or greater. If you have herd sires or donor dams that will have this level of the accuracy in the near future, please also contribute them to the project.

Please contact Lindsey Matli at the IBBA office for instructions on how to collect and send hair samples or straws of semen. By sending a sample, you are agreeing to pay $20 for the genotyping of each animal with IBBA paying $60 per sample. Submissions must be completed by June 1, 2012. Please contact the IBBA office at (210) 696-8231 with questions.


Frank Perry, Chair of the Breed Improvement Committee

Dr. Joseph Massey, IBBA Executive Vice-President


Approved Funding for DNA Project

IBBA Board of Directors approved funding for a DNA project that will genotype the Brangus breed in order for a gene marker map to be developed in order to produce Genomic Enhanced EPD for Brangus cattle. While other cattle breeds like Holstein and Angus are well on their way to routinely using Genomic Enhanced EPD’s for genetic selection, all other breeds must develop their own breed specific DNA Marker Map.

The details of the project are still being assembled. As more information is developed, IBBA members will be notified and given the opportunity to participate. Expect to see the details of this project and how to participate by early November.