Gleanings From Western Prairies

Gleanings From Western PrairiesWillie Woodhouse is a well-traveled Englishman who has journeyed all the way to Kansas to taste the frontier life of a ranching friend near the Osage Catholic Mission in the southeastern corner of the new state. Although resolved to give the experience an honest try, he is still somewhat taken aback at the unaccustomed roughness around him:

“Are these my neighbours and friends?” soliloquised Woodhouse. “What can I do for them in these months to come?”

Woodhouse spends time learning about pioneer life, frontier justice, and the Osage Mission before an epidemic strikes and he finds the way in which he can be useful.

The characters and storyline of Gleanings from Western Prairies by the Reverend W. E. Youngman are engaging, if the denouement is rather weak. However, the book has primarily been included here for its faithful account of early settlement in Kansas. Readers will learn as much as Woodhouse did about Indians and ranchers, and will see how the Osage Mission made the transition from serving the natives to educating the white settlers.

If you are looking for a time capsule of early southeastern Kansas, you may find Gleanings from Western Prairies to be an interesting presentation of the hardships that the settlers faced. And it is available free online!

Onion

Onion

Onions are absolutely indispensable to cooking. They add character to everything from pasta to pizza, and they can contribute a nice flavor to cooked vegetables such as green beans, too. Red onions taste great on salads. For the ultimate onion-eating experience, however, chop or slice an onion and use it to top a hamburger. Add a slice of tomato to that and the meal is complete. Delicious!

Preferred Conditions

  • Long growing season, if you are raising onions from seed.
  • Loose, well-drained soil.
  • Soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Planting

Early in the season, you will need to decide if you are going to start your onions from seed or from sets. Seeds are much cheaper, but they tend to be delicate at first, and you will have to wait until the next year to harvest your onions. If you are feeling ambitious, give it a try. Beginners are better off planting sets.

To Start Seeds

  1. Plant seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost. In Kansas, sometime in February is probably best.
  2. Just barely cover the seeds in light potting soil
  3. Keep the seeds warm (70°F) until sprouted.
  4. Remember to harden off your seedlings by setting them outside for increasing amounts of time beginning about two weeks prior to transplanting.
  5. Immediately before transplanting, shake most of the soil off of the onions.
  6. Use scissors to cut the tops and roots back to two inches each.

To Transplant Seedlings or Plant Sets

  1. Till the soil thoroughly, removing all rocks, roots, and dirt clods while you’re at it.
  2. Rake the soil until the surface is fine and smooth.
  3. Plant onions outdoors about four weeks before the last spring frost, erring on the side of being a little early. In Kansas, late March through mid-April should do.
  4. Poke a hole in the soil for the seedling or set with your finger, making it roughly two inches deep.
  5. Insert one seedling or set into each hole (sets go in pointed side up) and gently pack the soil around it.
  6. Plant onions three to four inches apart. Be sure to leave some walking space between rows.
  7. Lightly mulch the onions.
  8. Keep them watered until they sprout.

Care

Onions, like other root crops, suffer in soggy ground. Do not overwater them. Some mulch is beneficial, but keep it fairly light until dry weather sets in. By the same token, keep up with the weeds. A thick growth of grass tends to hold in moisture, which can lead to rot.

As the season progresses, keep a close eye on your onions. As the tops start to fall over and dry out a little, stop watering the plants. When most of the tops have fallen, bend down the rest with your hand to encourage them to start drying.

Pests and Diseases

Onion

  • Grasshopper.
  • Mouse.
  • Neck rot.

Harvesting

Any time you see onions with tops that are completely dry, pull them immediately. Let them dry on an elevated chicken wire screen in the shade, preferably in a breezy spot, for several days. When the tops feel completely dry and papery, brush off all of the dirt and loose skin and bring the onions inside.

Storage

Only store cured onions, and do not attempt to store any that seem likely to rot. The surest way to store onions is to braid them together or put them in a mesh bag and hang them up in a dry area just slightly above freezing. Another method is to loosely pile them into a slat-sided box. Be sure to check on them frequently, and remove any onions that are rotting or sprouting. (If you raised your onions from seed, remember to replant them in the spring, just as you would sets.)

Be aware that some onions simply will not store well. These are usually the ones that received too much water during the second half of the growing season. They will have thick, soft tops, possibly with a little green still in them. Use them as quickly as possible. If you must store them, your best bet is to chop them up and freeze them in plastic bags. They will have quite a bit of extra moisture when thawed, but once drained they are still good for cooking.

Saving Seeds

Onion

  1. Harvest and cure normally after the first growing season.
  2. Braid the onions and store between 32°F and 45°F. (Oddly enough, 77°F to 95°F will also work.)
  3. Replant the onions normally in the spring.
  4. Separate varieties by one to three miles, if possible.
  5. If you can’t separate varieties, bag the tops before flowering to avoid cross-pollination.
  6. Pollinate flowers in early morning or late evening to avoid insect interference.
  7. Remove the bags from the flowers and use a fine paintbrush to distribute pollen between them.
  8. Replace the bags as quickly as possible.
  9. Allow the seeds to ripen and dry on the plants, but be prepared to harvest them early if rain threatens.
  10. Bend the seed head over, still in its bag, and cut it from the plant.
  11. Store seed heads away from direct sunlight to finish drying.
  12. Thresh the seed by crumbling the seed head or stomping on the bags.
  13. Screen the seeds to remove debris. You can also winnow them by pouring them from bucket to bucket, but only if the wind is light.
  14. Store in a cool, dry, dark place. Onion seeds only last a year or two.

Helpful Resources

Onion Disease Guide
Free PDF with plenty of concise and well-photographed information on identifying onion diseases.

Onion Diseases
A list of factsheets.

Complete Series

Vegetables

Vegetables


Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon“Once in a blue moon” is one of those phrases that just roll off of our tongues without much prior analysis from our brains.  Somewhere in the back of our consciousness is the knowledge that the phrase means “every once in a great while.”  But where did this saying come from?

It just so happens that a blue moon is a real astronomical event.  It also just so happens that astronomers are somewhat divided on the precise event.

There are two events that the term “blue moon” is sometimes used to describe:

  1. A second full moon in any month.
  2. A third full moon in any season containing four full moons instead of the usual three.

The first definition seems to be more common than the second (perhaps because it’s easier to remember).  However, it also appears to date back no farther than 1946, when an amateur astronomer mistakenly connected blue moons with a comment in a copy of the Maine’s Farmer Almanac which said that the moon sometimes “comes full thirteen times in a year.”

The second definition, however, is much older.  It dates to an old custom of naming the full moon of each month.  “Harvest moon” is one of the last relics remaining of this practice, and it refers to the convenient full moon that gave light in harvest time in some parts of the world.

Some of the moon names we are less familiar with today include:

  • Lenten Moon:  The last full moon of winter, falling sometime within the observance of Lent.
  • Paschal, Easter, or Egg Moon:  The first full moon of spring, falling sometime within the week before Easter.
  • Moon Before Yule:  This full moon usually fell in December.
  • Moon After Yule:  This full moon usually fell in January.

And there were many others.  Different cultures used different names to describe the full moons, and many of these names revolved around agricultural activities.

Once in about every three years, however, an event occurred which threw this handy calendar out of alignment—there would be 13 full moons in a year instead of 12!

To solve this problem, the third full moon in the offending season would be called “blue,” the fourth moon would follow the regular calendar of names, and the months could progress as usual.

Why the extra full moon was called blue is something of a mystery.  The Native Americans referred to pink moons (the moon of the month when a flower called moss pink or mountain phlox was prevalent) and red moons (the moon of the month when the sky is filled with reddish haze).  But blue?  The explanation seems to be lost in the mists of time.

So now you have the origin of the phrase “once in a blue moon.”  A blue moon is actually the third full moon in a season with four full moons instead of three, an astronomical event occurring approximately once in three years.

“Seven times in 19 years there were — and still are — 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon. – See more at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/what-is-a-blue-moon/#sthash.4aFqbfX2.dpuf
“Seven times in 19 years there were — and still are — 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon. – See more at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/what-is-a-blue-moon/#sthash.4aFqbfX2.dpuf

EPDs for Beef Cattle: Crunching the Numbers

EPDs for Beef Cattle: Crunching the NumbersNow that we have a glossary to work with, we’re ready to find out how to use EPDs.

In this post, we’ll try to answer two questions:

  1. What does the “+10” in “WW +10” mean?
  2. How was the number “+10” calculated in the first place?

 

Using EPDs

EPDs are most useful when comparing two animals. Let us suppose for this example that we are going to look for a Hereford bull.

If you recall, the first of the four basic EPDs is BW, or birth weight. We happen to know of two Hereford bulls with BW EPDs of -5.2 and +0.4. What does this mean? Well, there are two ways to think of this.

First, recall that the unit of measure for BW is pounds. But we cannot just assume that Bull A (BW -5.2) is going to knock about five pounds off the birth weight of his progeny; nor can we assume that Bull B (BW +0.4) will increase the birth weight of his progeny by nearly half a pound. Instead, we are comparing Bull A and Bull B to each other. The EPDs tell us that Bull A’s calves are lighter at birth than Bull B’s calves by 5.6 pounds on average.

We can also compare the EPDs of individual bulls to the breed average. Using the example above, suppose that we want to know how Bull A stacks up compared to other Hereford sires across the breed. Also suppose that the average EPD for birth weight in Herefords this year is +3.3. This puts the average birth weight of Bull A’s calves 8.5 pounds lower than the breed average.

You may have seen an additional number next to the EPD, perhaps labeled Accuracy or ACC. This is usually a number between 0 and 1, and it reflects the amount of data that was available when the EPD was calculated. The closer the accuracy number is to 1, the more accurate the EPD is considered to be and the less likely it is to change over time as more data is collected.

 

How EPDs are Calculated

Calculating EPDs is an incredibly complex process and uses an enormous amount of data. Furthermore, it is a task that must be repeated frequently by each individual breed association so that the EPDs and averages are up to date. The process of collecting data and outputting EPDs is called a national cattle evaluation (NCE).

The data being collected falls into two broad categories:

  1. Pedigrees.
  2. Progeny data.

Like begets like. For this reason, the performance of a sire’s ancestors, relatives, and progeny is a useful indicator of that sire’s potential. The NCE collects data on each sire’s parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, and offspring. Of course, a young bull may not have any offspring, or at least any offspring old enough to have associated performance data. In that case, interim EPDs are calculated primarily based on pedigree data, and the accuracy is set at a lower number.

All of this data goes into computer models for processing. Many factors besides the raw data are considered in the models. For example, the data is adjusted to account for the differing management practices between producers, changing genetic trends across the breed, and genetic linkage between the traits themselves, among other things.

While you might think that an EPD of 0 for any given trait would mean average, this is not the case. EPDs are assigned relative to a base population. An arbitrary year is selected, and the base population consists of all of the animals born in that year. The base population is assigned EPDs totaling 0, and current EPDs are reported relative to the base population’s EPDs. This is why the average birth weight EPD for a breed can be +3.3, as in the example above.

When the EPDs are finally calculated, they are reported along with the breed averages and percentile rankings. The percentile rankings simply tell us how a given sire stacks up in comparison to the rest of the breed. For instance, if our bull has a CED (calving ease direct) of +7.3, he might rank in the top 1% of the breed for that trait, while if his CED is +2.6, he might only be in the top 25%.

So now you have the basics of how to use EPDs. But like any other tool, this one has both advantages and disadvantages.

 

Next week: Pros and Cons

Historical Atlas of Kansas

Historical Atlas of KansasIf you like maps and you love Kansas history, have we found the book for you! The Historical Atlas of Kansas by Homer E. Socolofsky and Huber Self contains over 70 maps presenting different aspects of life in Kansas, past and present.

Maps include:

  • Landforms.
  • Precipitation.
  • Native flora.
  • Spanish and French claims.
  • Early Indian tribes.
  • Forts and military roads.
  • Territorial locations and capitals.
  • Federal land offices.
  • Battle sites.
  • Railroad development.
  • Major cattle trails and cattle towns.
  • Group colonization.
  • Congressional districts.
  • Minerals.
  • Major highways and airline routes.
  • Irrigation.
  • Employment.
  • World War II installations.
  • National and state historic sites and museums.
  • Much, much more!

Each map is accompanied by interpretive text, which provides useful and interesting background. Some of the information is no longer current; for instance, Kansas has lost a congressional district since the second edition was published, but the state’s agriculture sales have nearly tripled in value. However, there is still much of value in this book.

Great for research and for the serious history buff—or for those who just love maps!

Lettuce

LettuceThere is nothing like fresh, homegrown lettuce to make a great salad.  If you pick leaf by leaf instead of a head at a time, you may even be able to enjoy a salad a day when the weather is right!  Top the salad with a new dressing each time for variety.  Throw in some of the other vegetables growing in your garden—tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, radishes, even uncooked peas straight out of the pod.  Add some hard-boiled eggs or chopped ham and serve your salad with toast to make a light lunch.  The possibilities are endless!

 

Preferred Conditions

  • Cool weather.
  • Full sun in cool weather, but afternoon shade in warm weather.
  • Moist (but not soggy) soil.
  • Soil pH around 6.0 to 6.7.

 

LettucePlanting

  1. Plant lettuce outdoors as soon as the soil is workable and has started to warm up, about four weeks before the last spring frost.  In Kansas, this could be between mid-March and mid-April.
  2. Don’t worry about precise spacing.  Scatter seeds across your designated lettuce patch, or sprinkle seeds in rows, one row for each variety that you want to try.
  3. Cover the seeds very lightly (about 1/4 inch deep).
  4. Scatter a very thin mulch across the surface of the soil to help hold both seeds and moisture in the ground.
  5. Water the seeds every day until they sprout and are well established.
  6. For a continuous harvest, plant more lettuce every other week until the weather is too hot for good germination.  In Kansas, this will probably occur between mid-April and mid-May.
  7. For a fall crop, plant some more lettuce after the summer heat has moderated somewhat, but about a month before the first fall frost.  In Kansas, try between mid-August and mid-September.

 

Care

Water is the primary need of lettuce.  This plant is not only sensitive to heat, but it is shallow-rooted and can’t really fend for itself.  In warm, dry weather, you will probably have to water it every day, and you should definitely mulch it well.  On the other hand, don’t overdo the water, either.  Lettuce leaves that have been sitting on soggy ground are not particularly appealing.

Lettuce needs special care in the summer.  If you want to extend its life a little longer, you may have luck protecting it with shade cloth; or try raising it under a dense canopy of asparagus fronds.  If the lettuce bolts (puts up a flower stalk) in spite of all your efforts, you may be able to get a few more salads out of it by cutting it back to the bottom inch or so of the lower leaves.

 

Pests and Diseases

Lettuce

 

Harvesting

If you only take a leaf at a time, you can start harvesting your lettuce any time after it has become established and looks like it can stand the loss.  Pinch the leaves gently, taking care not to uproot the whole plant, and try to take from the outside, leaving the tender inner leaves to develop and feed the plant until a later date.

You can also cut a whole head of lettuce when it looks about the right size, but the plant will not keep producing throughout the season.  Use a knife to do this job cleanly.

 

LettuceStorage

Like most things, lettuce is really best when used fresh.  If you must store it for a little while, soak the leaves in a sink full of cold water to clean them.  Then rinse the leaves off and spin.  Store the lettuce in the refrigerator in a lettuce keeper.

 

Saving Seeds

  1. Lettuce varieties rarely cross, but if you’re concerned about it separate them by 12 to 25 feet.
  2. Watch the lettuce closely when it bolts.  The first seeds will probably be ready 12 to 24 days after flowering.
  3. Shake dried seeds into a paper bag every two or three days.
  4. Store the bag in a dry place until you are ready to clean the seeds.
  5. Use a screen to remove the debris from the seeds.  You may find that it works best to use a screen with a mesh slightly smaller than the seeds and rub the debris through with the palm of your hand.
  6. Store seeds in a cool, dry, dark place.  They should last for about three years.

 

Helpful Resource

Leafy Vegetable Diseases
These factsheets include diseases of lettuce, as well as endive, spinach, and celery.

 

Complete Series

VegetablesVegetables

 

The Seal of Kansas

The Seal of KansasWhen Kansas was accepted into the Union, the state constitution declared that a seal would be necessary. Governor Charles Robinson brought this requirement to public attention on March 30, 1861. Committees in both the State House and the State Senate were appointed to draw up a design.

But for several months, nothing could be decided. What would the seal look like?

Different designs were proposed, but the state seal as we know it was probably an imaginative combination of two ideas.

The first idea was that of John H. McDowell, and it was fairly simple. McDowell proposed just a fitting landscape scene and a motto, which he suggested should be We will.

The second idea was proposed by John J. Ingalls, one of the most famous state senators in Kansas history. He envisioned something a little more elaborate:

…A blue shield at the base of a cloud, out of which was emerging one silver star to join the constellation in the firmament, comprising the thirty-four then in the Union, with the motto: “Ad Astra per Aspera.”

This idea was officially adopted in committee, but somehow the final design looked nothing quite like what Ingalls originally proposed. Still, some of the basic elements were there, set off by McDowell’s landscape and embellished with the visionary symbolism of the state’s earliest enthusiasts. The state seal in its present form was finally adopted on May 25, 1861.

 

The Symbols

The Seal of Kansas
An artistic version of the seal that once appeared on some bank notes

  • The East: In the words of the joint resolution which established the seal, “The east is represented by a rising sun.” It was to the East that Kansas owed its settlement.
  • The West: “Beyond this is a train of ox-wagons, going west.” It was Westward Expansion which brought the Easterners to Kansas in the first place.
  • The Indians: “In the background is seen a herd of buffalo, retreating, pursued by two Indians, on horseback.” Even in that early day, the Indians and the bison were recognized as part of the heritage of the state.
  • Commerce: “Commerce is represented by a river and a steamboat.” Trade along the Missouri and Kansas rivers was an important part of the state economy in those days.
  • Agriculture: “Agriculture is represented as the basis of the future prosperity of the state, by a settler’s cabin and a man plowing with a pair of horses.” Agriculture always has been important to Kansas, and still is today.
  • The Landscape: McDowell’s landscape did make it onto the seal. No one is entirely sure what hills are portrayed in the background, but some think that they represent the rolling landscape around present-day Fort Riley.
  • The Motto: Ingalls’s motto was included, too. Ad astra per aspera means, “To the stars through difficulties,” reflective of the hardships the people faced prior to statehood.
  • The Stars: Just as on the American flag, the 34 stars on the seal represent states, Kansas being the 34th state.

 

Uses of the Seal

The state constitution explained the purpose of the seal:

All commissions shall be issued in the name of the state of Kansas; and shall be signed by the governor, countersigned by the Secretary of State, and sealed with the great seal.

In 1879, the state legislature added further directions:

[The seal] shall be used only in attestation of the proclamations, commissions and executive warrants issued by the governor.

When the state flag was adopted in 1927, the seal appeared as the centerpiece of the design.

EPDs for Beef Cattle: A Glossary of Traits

EPDs for Beef Cattle: A Glossary of TraitsIf you are interested in beef cattle, one of the tools you will soon become familiar with is the EPD, or estimated progeny difference.

Perhaps you have already seen some EPDs in ads. Among the major selling points listed for a bull, you may have seen something like “WW +10,” for example. That is an EPD.

So what does it mean? And how is it useful?

Simply put, EPDs are for comparing the genetic value of different bulls of the same breed. If you understand the EPDs, you will have a general idea of the direction that a given sire will take your herd, genetically speaking.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at how to decipher EPDs, and then we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this breeding tool.

This week, we’ll start by examining some of the traits that EPDs seek to evaluate. Along the way, you’ll find out what the “WW” in “WW +10” means.

The Four Standard EPDs

  • BW: Birth weight. Evaluates the birth weight of a sire’s progeny in pounds. This is a useful indicator of calving ease.
  • WW: Weaning weight. Evaluates the weight of a sire’s progeny at 205 days of age in pounds. This number is important to cow-calf producers because they sell calves by weight.
  • YW: Yearling weight. Evaluates the weight of a sire’s progeny at 365 days of age in pounds. This number is used to gauge how early a feeder calf will be ready for slaughter.
  • MM or Milk: Maternal milk. Evaluates the maternal ability of a sire’s daughters in pounds of calf, presumably directly related to milk production. This EPD is a little more controversial than some of the others. On the one hand, cows able to raise heavier calves can bring in more money from the sale barn. On the other hand, they tend to have higher maintenance costs.

Growth, Production, and Maternal Traits

  • CE or CED: Calving ease or calving ease direct. The ease with which a sire’s calves are born from first-calf heifers as a percentage of unassisted births. CE is used by Simmental producers, while CED is used by Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, and Red Angus producers. Gelbvieh producers sometimes use the two acronyms interchangeably.
  • CEM or MCE: Calving ease maternal. The ease with which a sire’s daughters will calve for the first time as a percentage of unassisted births. Used by Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousin, and Simmental producers.
  • CETM: Calving ease total maternal. The probability of a sire’s daughter calving without assistance as a percent. Used by Hereford and Red Angus producers.
  • DOC: Docility. An estimate of a sire’s ability to produce docile progeny. Used by Angus, Charolais, Limousin, Maine Anjou, and Salers producers.
  • GL: Gestation length. An evaluation of the gestation length of a sire’s progeny in days. Shorter gestation lengths appear to be linked to greater calving ease. Used by Gelbvieh producers.
  • HPG: Heifer pregnancy. The probability of a sire’s daughters becoming pregnant during the first breeding season as a percent. Used by Angus and Red Angus producers.
  • M&G, TM, or MWW: Milk and growth, total maternal, or maternal weaning weight. A formula for estimating a sire’s ability to transmit growth and milk production to his daughters. 1/2 WW + MM = M&G. Widely used, but the acronym varies by breed.
  • ME: Maintenance energy. An estimate of the energy a sire’s daughters spend on body maintenance in megacalories per month. Used by Red Angus producers.
  • MH: Mature height. An evaluation of the mature height of a sire’s daughters in inches. Used by Angus producers.
  • MW or MCW: Mature weight. An evaluation of the mature weight of a sire’s daughters in pounds. Used by Angus and Hereford producers.
  • RADG: Residual average daily gain. An estimate of a sire’s ability to transmit weight gain to his offspring in pounds per day. Used by Angus producers.
  • SC or SCR: Scrotal circumference. A prediction of scrotal circumference in centimeters. This measurement is significant because a larger scrotal circumference typically corresponds to earlier puberty and better semen quality. Used by Angus, Beefmaster, Brangus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Hereford, and Limousin producers.
  • ST or Stay: Stayability. The probability that a sire’s daughters will remain in the herd for a set period of time (usually six years), expressed as a percent. This is an indication of longevity and reproductive ability, since nonproductive cows are usually culled. Used by Gelbvieh, Limousin, Red Angus, and Simmental producers.
  • TEAT: Teat size. An estimate of a sire’s contribution to the teat size of his daughters based on a 9-point scale. Teat size affects the ability of a calf to nurse easily. Used by Hereford producers.
  • UDDR: Udder suspension. An estimate of a sire’s ability to transmit sound udders to his daughters based on a 9-point scale. Used by Hereford producers.
  • YH: Yearling height. An estimate of a sire’s ability to transmit height to his offspring in inches. Used by Angus producers.

EPDS for Beef Cattle: A Glossary of TraitsCarcass Traits

  • %RP: Percent retail product. An estimate of the yield of salable beef relative to waste products of a sire’s progeny expressed as a percent. Used by Brahman producers.
  • CW: Carcass weight. An evaluation of the carcass weight of a sire’s progeny immediately prior to chilling in pounds. Used by Angus, Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Red Angus, Simbrah, and Simmental producers.
  • Fat: Fat thickness. A prediction of the backfat thickness over the ribeye between the 12th and 13th ribs in a sire’s progeny in inches, as detected by ultrasound. As backfat increases, percent retail product decreases. Used by Angus, Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Red Angus, Simbrah, and Simmental producers.
  • IMF: Intramuscular fat. An estimate of a sire’s ability to transmit intramuscular fat between the 12th and 13th ribs to his progeny as a percentage of fat compared to muscle, as detected by ultrasound. Used by Angus, Hereford, and Limousin producers.
  • MB or Marb: Marbling. An estimate of a sire’s ability to transmit marbling to his progeny based on the USDA scoring system, as detected by ultrasound. This trait is significant because increased marbling earns higher scores and therefore higher prices. Used by Angus, Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Red Angus, Simbrah, and Simmental producers.
  • REA or RE: Ribeye area. An estimate of the ribeye area of a sire’s progeny in square inches, as detected by ultrasound. This trait is useful in predicting carcass weight and percent retail product. Used by Angus, Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Red Angus, Simbrah, and Simmental producers.
  • SHR: Shear force. An estimate of the force needed to cut the meat of a sire’s progeny in pounds. Shear force is a good indicator of meat tenderness. Used by Brahman and Simmental producers.
  • YG: Yield grade. An estimate of the yield of salable beef of a sire’s progeny based on a yield grade scoring system. Used by Limousin, Simbrah, and Simmental producers.

Profit ($) Indexes

All profit indexes are calculated in dollars per head unless otherwise noted.

  • $B: Beef value. An estimate of the revenue and costs of a sire’s progeny based on both postweaning performance and carcass merit. Used by Angus producers.
  • $EN: Cow energy value. A gauge of the input requirements of a sire’s daughters in dollar savings per cow per year. Used by Angus producers.
  • $F or FM: Feedlot value. An evaluation of the revenue and cost of a sire’s progeny after weaning. Used by Angus and Gelbvieh producers.
  • $G or CV: Grid value or carcass value. An evaluation of the economic advantage of a sire’s progeny based on USDA quality and yield grading systems. Used by Angus and Gelbvieh producers.
  • $MTI: Mainstream terminal index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Limousin sire’s progeny born to British-cross cows when marketed through conventional channels. Used by Limousin producers.
  • $QG: Quality grade. An evaluation of the economic advantage of a sire’s progeny based on USDA quality grade, which is in turn based primarily on marbling. Used by Angus producers.
  • $W: Weaned calf value. An evaluation of both the revenue and the cost of a sire’s progeny up to weaning based on birth weight, growth, maternal milk, and mature size. Used by Angus producers.
  • $YG: Yield grade. An evaluation of the economic advantage of a sire’s progeny based on red meat yield grade. Used by Angus producers.
  • API: All-purpose index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Simmental sire’s progeny from Angus cows using a model where some of the progeny are kept for breeding and some are sent to the feedlot. Used by SimAngus and Simmental producers.
  • BII$: Brahman influence index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Hereford sire’s Brahman-cross progeny when marketed through conventional channels. This EPD was designed specifically for Southerners who need to include Brahmans in their breeding programs for heat tolerance, but who do not want to lose meat quality. Used by Hereford producers.
  • BMI$: Baldy maternal index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Hereford sire’s Angus-cross progeny when marketed through the Certified Hereford Beef program. Used by Hereford producers.
  • CHB$: Certified Hereford Beef index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Hereford sire’s crossbred progeny when marketed through the Certified Hereford Beef program. This is a method of combining growth and carcass traits. Used by Hereford producers.
  • CEZ$: Calving ease index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Hereford sire’s progeny born to first-calf heifers when marketed through the Certified Hereford Beef program. Only figuring first-calf heifers into the equation emphasizes calving ease, since these heifers are the most likely animals to have calving difficulties. Used by Hereford producers.
  • TI: Terminal index. An evaluation of the economic performance of a Simmental sire’s progeny from Angus cows when all of the offspring are sent to the feedlot. Used by SimAngus and Simmental producers.

Notice that different breeds use different sets of EPDs, frequently geared toward mitigating the weaknesses and maximizing the profit potential of each breed.

So now that you have a glossary to work with, you’re ready to start learning how to use EPDs.

Next week: Crunching the Numbers