As most CSA members are aware, the CSA is making a move to a single step genetic evaluation. This new evaluation will be conducted using a new software program called BOLT and will be conducted on a weekly basis by International Genetic Solutions (IGS).
While it may seem as though we have been waiting for a while for Genomically Enhanced EPD (GEPDs), the CSA is very close to being ready and is currently in the testing/programming phases, and preparing for a summer 2018 release.
The BOLT system through IGS is currently running on a database of roughly 17 million animals from several different breed associations, all of which have some pedigree ties to each other. This is the only multi-breed cattle dataset of this size in the world and it has been a very complex process to get data transfers automated and ensure all of the parts are working smoothly with all of the partners.
Currently the "live" BOLT system has been running with an existing Canadian dataset and is having genotypes (DNA) updated weekly. Testing/review of the EPD from this system is in process, so that we can understand changes in the evaluation methodology and its' effect on the resulting EPD. This ensures that CSA members will receive an accurate evaluation and that changes can be explained to the membership. It also helps us to ensure that the data is being processed and evaluated in an appropriate manner. For example, we are using this testing process to ensure that genotype information is matched to the proper pedigree/performance records, and that cross-referencing of animals between associations is occurring as accurately as possible. Currently the American Simmental Association is the only IGS partner to have released EPD from the new BOLT evaluation. As the CSA and ASA run a joint genetic evaluation you may have noticed a difference on the numbers on animals that are in both systems and that is the reason why.
The CSA in-house process that is being used to validate the changes is currently receiving weekly uploads of data from CSA in the new data format that is designed to work with the BOLT software. Testing this automation is very important as the CSA will be moving to weekly automated evaluations once BOLT is released and new data will upload once a week.
Programming is also underway for automated processing of gEPD results. This is the software that will process the new EPD file on the roughly 2 million CSA animals each week and update all of the EPD for those animals.
IGS is in the process of setting up a "mirror server" that will run evaluations in parallel with the live system. CSA will be submitting data and receiving weekly EPD files from this system. Once the system is operational and conducts a series of evaluations without issues, the system can then "Go Live" and CSA will release the new BOLT EPD.
While this process may seem lengthy, carefully working through and testing each step is essential to the IGS and CSA portions of the run. Because IGS involves several associations and such a vast amount of data, it is important that each participant has a robust system in place, as failure to do so can impact all of the other partners in the evaluation. Creating a stable and state of the art evaluation is the key concern for CSA as it works to serve its' membership and provide genetic evaluation services.