Selecting “Computer Cattle” only may Lead to a Wreck
by: Heather Smith Thomas
The beef industry has come a long ways toward producing animals with better performance and more predictable desirable qualities like low birthweight, high weaning and yearling weights, higher yielding carcasses and more red meat. Much of that progress has been through diligent record-keeping, recording weights, doing ultrasound testing, using EPDs for selecting breeding stock, and crunching the numbers with computer technology. This technology will continue to help us improve our cattle, but it has certain flaws that every producer needs to remember. The numbers that come out of the computer are only as good (or reliable) as the data put in. There are also some very important cattle traits that cannot be measured and numbered. A herd of broodcows (or a bull battery) selected by numbers and computer alone may be heading for a wreck.