Beef Quality Corner -- VQA Minimum EPD Levels
Livestock Update, January 2001
Bill R. McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Marketing, Virginia Tech
The Virginia Quality Assured feeder cattle program finishes its fourth fall marketing period and continues to serve as an effective tool in identifying cattle with superior health and genetic backgrounds. Individuals, groups of producers, and a limited number of feeder cattle associations have adopted the VQA guidelines as a uniform certification method for superior feeder cattle.
The Virginia Quality Assured program certifies cattle that have received a prescribed minimum number of vaccinations against common health problems of feeder cattle with a gold VQA ear tag. Those cattle that have met the health requirements and are also sired by superior bulls are identified with a purple VQA tag.
Since the outset of the VQA program, the purple tags have been used more extensively than the gold tags. This demand for purple tags seems to indicate that producers who have used bulls with superior genetics for growth want to differentiate their calves from the average feeder cattle. These have been producers who believe in the long term benefit of superior genetics.
For feeder cattle to receive the purple VQA tag, the bull siring the calves must meet minimum requirements for yearling weight EPD. Yearling weight EPD may be our best and most readily available indication of post weaning growth. For most breeds this minimum level is breed average yearling weight EPD for the year in which the bull was born. For the Charolais, Gelbvieh, and Simmental breeds, this minimum EPD level is at the 70% percentile level. The top 70% level in the larger continental breeds was established to avoid the inadvertent bias toward extremely large framed cattle.
In most situations, feed efficiency continues to be the single most important cattle related factor affecting profit in cattle feeding. To this point in history, the industry has had difficulty directly measuring individual feed efficiency. The industry has done an excellent job in measuring growth rate, which is highly correlated to feed efficiency. In general, if cattle grow more rapidly a smaller percentage of the feed they consume is used for simple maintenance of the cattle. With fewer days on feed to the same weight endpoint, faster growing cattle utilize a larger portion of their daily ration for added pounds of gain. The bull's yearling weight EPD is our best measure of relative post-weaning growth in his calves. The table below lists yearling weight EPD minimums for bulls siring calves eligible for the VQA purple tag. In some cases, a bull will fail to have a yearling weight calculated. In the absence of the yearling weight EPD, a bullšs weaning weight EPD may qualify the bull to sire VQA purple tag cattle.
In many cases, the average EPD's for the latest calf crop may have not been calculated or be available when a bull is sold as a young yearling. This would be the case for bulls born in early 2000 and being purchased in 2001. Producers wishing to purchase yearling bulls that qualify for the VQA program should used the EPD's in the "1999-00" column.
|Yearling Weight EPD|
|Weaning Weight EPD