Limousin Latest

NALF Update

Published September 24, 2020

NALF has just completed its August board meeting in Denver. The August board meeting is typically centered around budgeting for the next fiscal year. Much of this year’s discussion was centered around positive items we can do as a breed in terms of marketing, promotion and research on our cattle thanks to membership registrations and transfer levels in spite of last year’s rate increase. The financials look very positive heading into the fiscal year end and by the time you read this this will be completed.

As a result, the board has approved a $15,000 increase in our national commercial marketing program which incorporates new advertising outlets in addition to maintaining our venues such as Superior, Working Ranch and DV Auction.

Even more critical, the board has approved new research on our cattle in conjunction with Kansas State University. Through this research we will be attempting to put Limousin sired calves, Lim-Flex and a control group of English based feeder cattle on feed to capture intake and feed conversion data. This will not only include group closeout and feed performance data but also a 60 day individual intake trial as well.

Our feed intake and conversion data is very dated. Your cattle have changed and improved dramatically the last 5 years and the board feels it is critical to document the Limousin advantage to the commercial industry with new valid research trials on our current cattle that can be used in a national advertising campaign as well.

We also plan to capture individual carcass data on the cattle to a logical slaughter end point to document the advantage’s of using both Limousin and Lim-Flex® sires into an English based commercial cowherd. This will hopefully document the following advantages we would expect to see at both the feedyard and packer segments of the beef industry

  1. Improved average daily gains, superior dry matter feed conversions resulting in cheaper cost of gains at the feedyard level with heterosis achieved in the terminal cross.
  2. Larger out weights at harvest compared to their English based counterparts resulting in additional rollback on breakevens with maintaining feed efficiency and superior dry matter conversions.
  3. Cattle that should have advantages at the packing house that should still be able to grade 85% choice and above while maintaining a higher percentage of yield grade 1-3 cattle than their English counterparts. Additional NALF members have been sending actual kill data on customers that they have sold bulls to into their commercial cow/calf operators that are feeding their cattle out. Many of these kill sheets are coming back with group harvest date that are now grading 80-90% Choice or higher with minimal yield grade 4 & 5 cattle. This will also be promoted and publicized over the next 12 months.

This year, NALF has had an increase of members who have enrolled in the LIMS, whole herd reporting program. The increased interest in LIMS was spurred by the LIMVision Cow Herd Project in partnership with Neogen. This collaborative effort  with Neogen enables LIMS members to obtain more affordable 50K testing on their mature cowherds for the price of $24.00 per head versus the regular $55.00 retail price. To qualify, the member must submit DNA on 90% of their mature cows enrolled in LIMS to take advantage of the discounted price and can also receive an additional $3/head discount by submitting body condition scores and weights on their mature cows.

This lets a member genomically test the female portion of their herd or their “Cow Factory” at a more affordable price versus regular retail cost. This also qualifies that member to obtain that discounted rate every year on their replacement females to keep their cowherd current and achieve higher accuracy on their EPDs and expanded progeny equivalents acquired through genomic testing.

In the NALF herdbook, genomically enhanced testing has increased dramatically the past 3 years, but the bulk of this has been on bull sale offerings, A.I. sires and donor dams. To reach our full potential in an effort to increase expected mating accuracy, genotyping the female portion of our herd book is just as important. The increased progeny equivalents of 15-20 head on weight trait EPDs that are achieved with the IGS cattle evaluation when also incorporating performance and pedigree data has been a game changer for the seedstock industry.

As you are now aware, IGS recently released the long awaited new EPD set with adjustments to growth trait predictions referred to as “Work Order 1”. The updated marker panel subsets were applied to growth trait prediction models in addition to adjusting the milk EPD that was previously hurting our high growth young sires along with the exclusion of genomic marker effect on the milk EPD. This has been adjusted beneficially to not be as detrimental to those young, high growth low accuracy sires.

Over the last couple of years, the massive research undertaking has been going on to modernize the evaluation of growth traits (Birth Weight, Weaning Weight, Yearling Weight and Milk).  Below, is a brief description of each update followed by the impact of these collective changes on NALF EPD.  These changes are expected to be incorporated into the production run generated from IGS back on the week of August 17th.

The changes made include:

  1. A new definition of contemporary groups based on the age of the dam. Calves born to first-calf females will be placed in a separate contemporary group.
  2. Setting the genetic correlation between weaning weight maternal (milk) and weaning weight direct to 0 (compared to – 0.3). There has been debate in the scientific literature about the degree and direction of genetic correlations between direct and maternal weaning weight.  Previously, the IGS evaluation used a moderate negative correlation.  This meant that young, unproven animals with high growth potential often saw negative impact on their milk EPD when their own growth data was submitted or when a genomic test was done. The correlation in the new model will be set to zero.  This should impact animals with low accuracies the most.
  3. Different variances for different sexes (heterogeneous variance). Bull calves typically have higher growth potential than heifers, which means the variation in their weights is also greater. The new model will account for this difference.
  4. New DNA Marker subset. Since BOLT-powered EPDs were released, many more animals have been genotyped, and many more performance records have been submitted. As a result, new, more informative markers were able to be deciphered. The new EPDs will employ this new, larger marker set on the growth traits.
  5. Accounting for different birth weight collection methods. Upon closer analysis of birth weight data, it became apparent that different reporting and collection methods were being used. These methods ranged from reporting in 2lb or 5lb increments, to data that was obviously from hoof tapes instead of scales, to clearly fabricated data. New methods allow for the identification and proper accounting for these various collection methods.
  6. Not including genomic effects for Weaning Weight Maternal (Milk). The current genetic evaluation marker effects for both WW and Milk. However, in the new evaluation the ability for the genomic part of the EPD calculations for Milk to be performed caused problems with the overall efficiency of the weekly evaluation. Therefore, the decision was made to

remove the genomic component for Milk. Even with the removal of this information, work done to judge the efficacy of EPDs, shows that the resulting EPDs from the updated model are an improvement over the previous evaluation.

Thanks to Wulf Cattle, NALF is also in the process of an exciting project to incorporate 1,000’s of records of actual carcass data harvested through Wulf’s BeefBuilder® program that will dramatically increase utilized sire accuracy of carcass trait data into the evaluation. Actual carcass trait data of cattle harvested to a logical slaughter endpoint is rare in seedstock evaluations.

NALF is in a unique position to capture carcass phenotypes to improve carcass trait EPD accuracies. NALF is blessed to have good portion of their membership that are also cattle feeders. Additional members are turning in actual slaughter data on cattle they have fed or customers cattle they have sold bulls too. This will incorporate more bloodlines across the herd book and get a better cross section of sires represented.

Until now, these phenotypes have mainly relied on ultrasound data for inclusion into the EPDs of yield grade, back fat, marbling and ribeye and carcass weight. Incorporating this actual kill data along with pedigree information will dramatically increase EPD accuracy for those traits and over time, increase progeny equivalents on genomically enhanced carcass EPDs as well.

The cattle business, and in particular the seedstock industry continues to evolve and improve at a rapid pace given the leap forward in DNA testing,(genomics) and improved single-step national cattle evaluations that have given the serious seedstock breeder the tools to make rapid genetic progress. NALF looks forward to working with the membership as we move ahead into a new era of seedstock cattle production over the next decade!


Limousin cattle deliver to your bottom line. With superior genetics, a simple crossbreeding plan and state-of-the-art selection tools, the Limousin breed will serve profit-minded cow/calf producers. In today’s competitive markets, taking advantage of all available opportunities is key. The Limousin breed offers a variety of options from Fullblood to Purebred to the Lim-Flex® hybrid (Limousin x Angus cross) to match your program’s needs and market goals. Crossbreeding for the right blend of muscle, maternal ability and profit is easy with Limousin seedstock.