Angus VNR: Breeding for the Brand

Most cattle can’t qualify for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, and 92% of the time, the reason is not enough marbling.

“We know that marbling is a highly heritable trait. Therefore, the Targeting the Brand™ program is designed to help commercial producers more easily identify the genetic potential within registered Angus bulls that will help set the stage to allow their calves to be set up for success from a genetic merit standpoint and check more of the boxes for the Certified Angus Beef brand, specifically in the most difficult category of marbling,” says Kara Lee, production brand manager for Certified Angus Beef.

The Targeting the Brand mark has evolved into a program that helps build carcass quality in beef cow herds by pointing to the expected progeny difference, or E-P-D, for Marbling, along with the Angus Dollar Grid Index.

“Our minimum EPD requirements of plus 0.65 for the marbling EPD and plus 55 for the Dollar Grid Index are designed to help commercial producers increase their overall acceptance rate. Today, we know roughly 35% of all Angus-influenced feeder cattle meet all requirements for the Certified Angus Beef brand. However, moving forward we have a lot of optimism behind our growing consumer demand, and we know we're going to need more cattle to cross that finish line and check all the boxes,” Lee says.

More than 130 sales used the logo in the 2019 and 2020 sale season, selling more than 6,500 Angus bulls—up 76% in two years.

“It's important to consider that Targeting the Brand requirements are a minimum threshold and a great place to start. If you are a commercial producer who is already exceeding a 50% Certified Angus Beef acceptance rate, we always encourage you to aim higher,” Lee says.

The logo gives cattlemen latitude to place emphasis on the carcass, without making that their entire focus.

“We realize that maternal function, growth, longevity, overall phenotype of your cow herd are all very important. We realize also that the science says marbling is not going to wreck your maternal traits. It's supplemental. It's a trait that's free to integrate into your herd. We're not encouraging single trait selection, and we're not going to throw out all those maternal traits that we know are truly the foundation of who the Angus cow is. It's just the way for us to continue on a plane of continual improvement towards elevating that genetic merit for carcass.,” Lee says.

To learn more about Targeting the Brand resources and ideas, visit