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VQA Purple Tag- Sire EPD Specifications 2004-05

Livestock Update, June 2004

Scott P. Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

The Virginia Quality Assured Feeder Calf Program has become an established program with name recognition. Through the coordinated efforts of cow-calf producers, Extension, and marketing organizations, the program has successfully added value to feeder cattle and acquired a favorable reputation among feeder cattle buyers. This positive reputation has been acquired as a result of the success of the prescribed health program, documentation of growth genetics, and best management practices applied through producer Beef Quality Assurance Certification. The most recent summary of over 7,600 VQA calves reveals a $5.58 per cwt. premium or over $35 per head advantage, for VQA calves compared to L&M 1 graded feeder cattle sold on the same marketing date.

The added value for VQA calves can be attributed to a sum of the individual requirements. Analysis of feedyard closeout data supports the importance of cattle that remain healthy and grow efficiently as these traits tend to be closely associated with profitability. Additionally, cattle that require treatment for health reasons have been documented to have reduced carcass quality and value. The VQA program was designed with documentation of these factors in mind.

VQA Purple Tag requirements include a specification that their sire meet a minimum yearling weight growth Expected Progeny Difference (EPD). Each calf's sire must meet breed-specific yearling weight EPD minimums to qualify for the Purple Tag. The intention of the sire growth EPD specification is document the calves have genetic potential for post-weaning growth performance that meets or exceeds the breed average for the breed of their sire. Yearling weight EPD is the best selection tool for feedlot average daily gain. Feedlot profitability is highly related to cost of gain (cost to put on live weight or carcass weight), which is primarily a function of growth (ADG), feed efficiency, health, and feed costs (although feed costs are not related to genetics and/or management). In general, there is a favorable relationship between growth and feed efficiency and therefore selection for faster growing cattle tend to have more favorable costs of gain.

The following table provides the breed minimum yearling weight EPD requirements for bulls born in Fall 2003 and Spring 2004. Calves sired by bulls with yearling weight EPDs greater than or equal to the minimums published are eligible for the purple tag. In the event a bull does not have a yearling weight EPD, weaning weight EPD is used as the specification. These EPD specifications are based on information published in the Spring 2004 breed sire evaluation summaries, and will be applicable to yearling bulls purchased fall 2004 and spring 2005. The sire EPD specifications have been set at birth year breed average for most breeds. Due to the growth advantages of the Charolais and Simmental breeds, bulls of these breeds must have a yearling weight EPD in the top 70% of their respective breed to qualify. These EPD specifications are applied to an individual sire's birth year. Therefore, older bulls will have different minimum EPDs than those listed below (generally lower mimimum EPDs due to positive genetic trend for growth in each breed). For specifications for bulls born previous to fall 2003, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office or the Virginia Cattlemen's Association.

VQA Purple Tag
Sire Minimum Yearling Weight EPD Requirements
Bulls Born Fall 2003 & Spring 2004
Breed (%) Minimum YW EPD Minimum WW EPDa
Angus +67 +36
Charolais (PB and 15/16) +25 +14
Charolais (7/8) +23 +12
Charolais (3/4) +21 +9
Gelbvieh (PB) +68 +37
Gelbvieh (Balancer) +67 +33
Hereford +61 +36
Limousin +64 +34
Red Angus +52 +29
Salers +20 +13
Simmental (PB ) +51 +29
Simmental (3/4) +44 +26
Simmental (1/2) +36 +19
aWW EPD only used in the absence of YW EPD

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