Why Use API and TI to Maximize Genetic Improvement in Beef Cattle?

Often times bull selection is taken way to lightly. If you think about the difference that a good bull can make in your bottom line, this decision should make you work a lot harder.

The difference between a good bull and an average bull could mean $2,000/bull/year and $8,000 over the lifetime of that bull. The difference between a good bull and a bad bull could be double that.

So what do you need to consider in order to make this decision? At face value, it’s simple:

Profit = $Output(Output Traits) x (Prices) – $Input (Input Traits) x (Costs)

But then it gets a bit more complicated:

And in order to get these values, we must consider factors like these:

Biological Assumptions
Weaning weight: 550 lb
Feedlot gain; intake:
• Phase 1 (80 d): 2.51 lb/d; 26.86 lb/d
• Phase 2 (50 d): 2.92 lb/d; 21.9 lb/d
• Phase 3 (100 d): 3.81 lb/d;26.67 lb/d
Cow size: 1250 lb
Milk production: 5283 lb/lactation
Pregnancy rate: 84%
Dystocia heifers (direct): 20%
Dystocia heifers (maternal): 20%
Calf survival: 96%
Harvest weight: 1277.8 lb
Dressing: 62.9%
Carcass weight: 803.7 lb
Marbling score: 5.14
Yield grade: 2.8
Calf Survival
Weaning Weight
Carcass Weight
Yield Grade
Salvage Weight
Replacement Rate Cowherd Intake
Feedlot Intake


Price & Cost Assumptions:
Salvage price: $.45/lb
Hay: $.0325/lb
Pasture: $25/ac/yr
Feed; fixed costs:
• Phase 1: $.036/lb; $.51/d
• Phase 2: $.039/lb; $.80/d
• Phase 3: $.067/lb; $.80/d
Carcass prices:
• Base: $121/cwt
• < 550 lb: – $15/cwt
• > 950 lb: – $7/cwt
• > 1000 lb: – $17.50/cwt
• Prime: + $8.00/cwt
• High Choice: + $3.50/cwt
• Choice: + $1.50/cwt
• Select: – $11.00/cwt
• Standard: – $20.00/cwt
• YG 1: + $4.00/cwt
• YG 2: + $2.00/cwt
• YG 3: $0.00/cwt
• YG 4: – $15.00/cwt

The difference between a good bull and an average bull could mean $2,000/bull/year and $8,000 over the lifetime of that bull.

And those are just a small example of everything that needs to be considered in order to maximize genetic improvement in your cowherd.

API and TI take real-world data and real-world performance of cattle and calculates how much more profitable one bull will be over another bull in your cowherd. You would have to properly analyze all of this data in your head if you chose to not use API and TI.

API and TI performance are far better selection tools than eye appeal. We used to pick bulls based on eye appeal and that was a great method for its time. However, I often compare using eye appeal verses API and TI to trying to fight an F-16 fighter jet with a sword. The sword was a great weapon for its time but now we’ve
taken genetic improvement to a whole new level and you will quickly fall behind if you don’t upgrade to the fighter jets of API and TI.