Computerized Genetic 

   Simulation/Term Paper:


"COWGAMES" - The computer software program "COWGAMES" will be used to demonstrate genetic progress that can be achieved through selection for economic production traits (weaning weight, average daily gain, and(or) yearling weight) as simulated in a beef cattle herd. COWGAMES accounts for simple and complex forms of gene action which will be studied in the classroom. The basis for the term paper assignment challenges the student with the opportunity to design breeding objectives, select bulls and cows, monitor genetic change, and interpret the results of genetic progress based on several generations of simulated selection which is performed throughout the semester. The term paper is to be submitted electronically (Word file) to Dr. Lukefahr no later than on the date of the final examination (May 8), as well as a bound hard copy. Ten bonus points will be given to those students who turn in their term papers at least one week (on or before May 1) before the scheduled final date.

Special Instructions for Term Paper:



General: The purpose for the term paper is to provide the student the opportunity to present an interpretive summary explaining the genetic results following a minimum of 12 generations of simulated beef cattle selection for economic traits using the 'Cowgames' computer program. The paper is to be at least 14 typed pages in length (excluding title page and figures), page numbered, and double-line spaced. The paper should not exceed a total of 20 pages in length. Times New Roman text and a font size of 12 should be used.  Do complete spelling and grammar checks. Also, as a technical paper, avoid contractions (e.g., I'm, don't, and won't). Only major headings (INTRODUCTION, ENTERPRISE TYPE AND BREEDING OBJECTIVE, RESULTS AND DISCUSSION, and SUMMARY) start on a separate page. In the RESULTS AND DISCUSSION section, a write-up for each generation should be original (do not copy/paste from previous generation sub-sections). Generation sub-sections should not be on separate pages. Margins should be no larger than 1 inch. Figures illustrating genetic trend for all three traits should be developed using a computer graphics package. The Grading Rubric is based on Organization, Content, Language, Mechanics, and Vocabulary.


1) Title Page - Paper title, Student, Course, Semester, Year. On the next page, a Table of Contents would be a good show of organization.

2) Introduction - The Introduction is page 1 of the term paper. Discuss why is 'Cowgames' is used by students? Refer to key genetic concepts that can be applied using Cowgames. Discuss next the pros and cons of the program (i.e., personal likes and dislikes). (Minimum of 1-1/2 pages.) 

3) Enterprise Type & Breeding Objective - (Minimum of 1-1/2 pages)
   A) Initial herd objectives (enterprise type background, breeding objective, trait(s) emphasis...).

   B) Rationale or Justification (genetic and economic support of breeding objective). Also mention the relevance of heritability for the trait(s) being subjected to genetic selection.

4) Results & Discussion - (Minimum of 10 pages). Only one line space between Generation sub-sections.
   A) Address the following:
   i) Discuss your mating plans for that generation. What was the reason or rationale for making your selection decisions?
   ii) What was done differently this generation? Justify the change.
  iii) What were the results? Did trait averages change?
  iv) Explain the possible causes for the genetic results for each generation, illustrated by using genetic terms (e.g., assortative matings, breeding value, culling, genetic variation, heritability, homozygosity, inbreeding coefficient, prepotency, and selection) and by making reference to genetic concepts, and showing some proof from the data.  Focus on how you can best explain why genetic change occurred, regardless of whether the change was a lot or very little. Tip - many students lose points because they do not explain the genetic changes to demonstrate what they learned or better understand from the genetic results for each generation. Again, copy/paste duplication of results across generations is discouraged.

   B) Summary - (Minimum of 1 full page). What was the general outcome in terms of genetic progress? Refer to and discuss the genetic trends for each trait from your three figures.
 Also, if you could start Cowgames all over again, what would you have done differently based on your increased knowledge of genetics?

5) Figures -
   A) Plot on three separate pages the generation results for each traits (as line plots). Each figure should have a complete caption. The Y-axes should be precise. See example graph (link below).

6) Appendix - Attach all your generation print-out sheets and any additional materials such as pedigrees, arrow diagrams, and MPPA spreadsheets.

Folder User's Manual for Cowgames
Folder Cowgames Program
Folder Mating Sheet Copy
Folder Sample of Term Paper
Folder Example Graph for Term Paper 
Folder Common Errors on Cowgames Term Papers
How to Test Your Herd for Mad Cow Disease