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Animal breeding is one of the basic cornerstones of the current animal production. It consists in identifying those animals with high genetic merit for the traits of interest, in order to use them as parents of the next generation, maximizing thus the expected progeny merit.

To detect the genetically superior animals, Genetic Evaluations are carried out. These consist in predicting the genetic value of the animals, neutralizing those environmental effects (e.g. nutrition, management, season) that are known to affect the individual production of each animal. This is achieved by the use of performance data and pedigree information, with which it is possible to calculate the Expected Progeny Difference (EPD) for one or several traits of interest. The EPD express the expected difference between the progeny production average of an evaluated animal in relation to the population average.

Currently Genetic Evaluation in Uruguay is carried out for the following beef cattle breeds: Hereford, Aberdeen Angus and Braford. The Hereford breed in Uruguay is part of the Pan-American genetic evaluation, done by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) together with Argentina, Canada and United States. All beef genetic evaluations in Uruguay are possible due to the joint work between the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), the Breed Associations and the Rural Association of Uruguay (ARU).

With genetic evaluations in place, breeders have the necessary objective information when taking selection decisions, which will result in greater economic returns for each production system.

An increase that is observed year after year ...

Since the publication of the results of the first genetic evaluations for beef cattle in the early 90´s, the number of breeds, animals and herds per breed, has increased substantially. Additionally, the number of traits evaluated within each breed has also increased prominently. The figures 1 and 2 summarize the evolution of herds and animals that participate in beef cattle National Genetic Evaluation in Uruguay.

Figure 1 - Evolution of the number of herds participating in the Genetic Evaluation of Aberdeen Angus, Braford and Hereford.

Figure 2 - Evolution of the number of animals evaluated in the Genetic Evaluation of Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Braford according to birth year (based on information from Genetic Evaluation 2012).

More information:

See the explanatory factsheet: DEP o EPD: ¿Qué es y cómo interpretarlo? Pravia, M.; Baldi, F.; Ravagnolo, O.; Ciappesoni, G.; Montossi, F.; Calistro, A. (Click on the name to download the document in Spanish).

See article: Avances en herramientas de selección para la cría: peso adulto, características reproductivas e índices de selección. Lema, M.; Ravagnolo, O.; Soares de Lima, J.M. 2013. Seminario de actualización técnica: Cría Vacuna. Serie Técnica INIA Nº 208, pp. 27-34. (Click on the name to download the document in Spanish).