Developing a Customizable Whole Beef Cattle Herd Genetic Selection Tool

Project Title

Development and Demonstration of a Genomics-Enhanced Whole Herd Genetic Management Platform to improve Beef Production Efficiency and Quality


Changxi Li, AAFC

John Basarab (project co-lead), University of Alberta Graham Plastow, University of Alberta Paul Stothard, University of Alberta Carolyn Fitzsimmons, AAFC Arun Kommadath, AAFC Mohammad Khakbazan, AAFC Ghader Manafiazar, Dalhousie University Matthew Spangler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in August, 2024 FDE.05.20


Constant improvement on beef production efficiency and quality is essential to reducing production costs, increasing profitability, and thus enhancing competitiveness of the beef industry. One way to do this is through genetic selection, but the commercial beef industry in Canada is varied by location and management type, meaning there is no one size fits all selection goal. There are also relatively few tools for commercial beef producers to use to enhance genetic selection.


To further develop a web-based genomics-enhanced whole herd genetic management platform for producers to access customizable genetic data and selection tools.

What they will do

These researchers will develop and implement a genomics-enhanced whole herd genetic management platform that allows beef producers to maximize genetic potential for their beef cattle herds. The platform will included advanced genomic prediction on EPDs for growth, feed efficiency, carcass, and female fertility traits, flexible multiple trait selection indexes based on traits desired by producers, mate selection strategies to maximize genomic retained heterozygosity (gRHET) and thus retained hybrid vigor (RHV) in beef cattle herds. These researchers will also develop a web-based portal that enables beef producers to access the whole herd genetic management tool through sending in DNA samples of their beef cattle (heifers, cows and potential bulls) and receiving genomic prediction results including genomic expected progeny difference (gEPD) on growth, feed efficiency, carcass, and female fertility traits, multiple trait selection indexes, and selection of bulls for their breeding cows/heifers that maximizes hybrid vigor in the cattle herd. The genomics-enhanced whole herd genetic management platform will be demonstrated and deployed through analyzing 10,000 beef cattle from beef producers.


This project will enable commercial beef producers to develop customizable genetic selection indexes for their herd which should aid in the genetic decision-making process and help improve the overall efficiency and quality of Canada’s beef industry.