Beef Improvement Federation launches livestock selection tool

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) is pleased to announce the release of iGENDEC for building custom breeding indexes, an industry first. While generalized breeding indexes have been widely available to commercial and seedstock growers for some time, a precision farming tool for building custom indexes was not available to the industry until here.

iGENDEC is a web-based tool for constructing economically optimal selection indices for specific production and marketing situations. iGENDEC allows for customization of the index through the adjustment of economic and production parameters to reflect unique business and production scenarios, including calf sales point, current phenotypic means, economic parameters, or breeds and investment planning horizon.

The iGENDEC product was developed with financial support from a USDA NIFA grant with the goal of helping companies make genetic breeding decisions specific to their particular situation. It was co-developed by a team of researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University, US Meat Animal Research Center, and Theta Solutions, LLC.

Dr. Matt Spangler of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln led the research and extension team that built iGENDEC and sees the system benefiting the beef industry in several ways. “This benefits commercial producers by helping them make genetic selection decisions (often sires) that are more profitable. This helps seedstock producers better advise their commercial bull buyers and it can also allow them to make seedstock matings with the profit of their future commercial buyer in mind,” Spangler says.

The BIF enables collaboration between beef producers and the extension and research communities to foster continuous genetic improvement. Spangler explains: “iGENDEC is a tool that grew out of the collaboration between growers and scientists with the aim of turning scientific knowledge into action. BIF hosting this software seemed like a natural fit. This allows the sustainability of iGENDEC and broad access to the industry.

Although the web-based system is user-friendly, the developers strongly encourage users to have a solid background in beef cattle genetics, especially index selection theory, or seek advice from someone who does. This tool can be used to develop general purpose indexes offered by meat breed associations or custom indexes for specific companies. iGENDEC can also be used as an educational tool in the classroom and in extension programming efforts.

iGENDEC is made available to industry under a variety of license agreements. Funds raised through licensing support the platform’s ongoing hosting and software development. A 30-day free trial option is available for users who want to learn more about potential applications. The software is made freely available to educators and extension instructors at colleges and universities. BIF member and state/province beef cattle improvement associations can access the software at discounted rates. More details on iGENDEC, including an educational video, are available at: beefimprovement.org/igendec.