Sunday, March 28, 2010

Which Bull to Which Cow?

It is that time of year when we are all trying to pick that perfect bull that will complement our cows perfectly and move our genetics one stop closer to where we want to be.

I think the biggest mistake most breeders make when selecting bulls, is focusing too much on a single trait.  This trait could be growth, maybe milk, or as in the club calf industry, muscle.  By selecting for this one trait, you may make improvements there, but you may also be setting your herd back years in other areas.  Your goals you defined did not consist of one thing, so neither should your selection process.

So how do I do it at ZNT?  How do we consistently produce great calves with such small numbers?  First, I identify every weakness and strength for each cow.  Then I look for bulls that have the genetics to improve the weaknesses, yet still have solid genetics to maintain the cows strengths.  Lastly, I do not believe in extremes when it comes to any one trait.  Everything can be overdone.  If I have a small made cow that is loaded with muscle, I am going to look for a bull that will add size, and maybe milk and moderate birth weight.

Proven vs. unproven sires.  Each has their own place.  I like using proven sires and their proven results, but sometimes it is hard to move forward when you are looking back.  That being said, I will not use an unproven sire with no proven genetics to back him up.  Of course the unproven sire has to be phenotypically right, but he must also have the genetics behind him (proven sires and dams) that meets the goals of my herd.  And yes, that is GOALS with an "S".

Good luck everyone this breeding season.