Masculine bulls?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by tyusclan, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking this morning and wondered if anyone else has noticed the trend in beef breeders in the last several years to breed away the masculine traits of the bulls. I remember growing up you could look across a herd and spot the bull right away. His head and shoulders looked like a bull. Nowadays it seems like if you can't see the bellies, you can't find the bull. My neighbor has a nice herd of crossbred cows with an angus bull. His head and shoulders simply do not look like a bull to me. I don't like his looks at all. I just don't think this is a good thing. I think a bull should look like a bull. Any thoughts?
     
  2. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    Cows have an easier time birthing calves with smaller heads and shoulders. Maybe this is why it's being done?
     

  3. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There breeding more for EPD's these days, which can be good or bad. Most breeders look at birth weight and then what they want out of their calves, whether replacement heifers or market calves. I found out recently that even in different areas of the US they want different size cattle. I don't look specifically at the EPD's when I select a bull to AI my cows, but like to be able to see the bull. More importantly, I like to see what the cow looks like and what her EPD's are. I've been leaning to breeding my cows to a smaller frame bull that has a good yearling weight.

    Bobg
     
  4. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I know that's one reason sometimes given. I read an article a couple of years ago about this very thing. The author of the article went to see this particular person's herd which was supposed to be something special. The author was extremely disappointed in the appearance of the bulls. The breeder's response was, "Dad always said band any bull with big shoulders. They cause calving problems." I don't necessarily agree with that, and neither did the author. I think you can breed for calving ease, and still have masculine bulls.
     
  5. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    Part of it too is that it takes a while for a bull to mature enough to show the more masculine traits and people don't seem to be keeping nearly as many older bulls around as in the past.
     
  6. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    This continual producing of and selecting bulls for calving ease is gonna backfire. Small head means small brain. Small head means narrow muzzle means cows that can't take in as much feed with each bite, hence less able to produce - meat or milk.
    Small shoulders means small chest capacity. Cow has to have wide barrel chest to be able to process lots of forages, and convert them to milk or meat.
    Continual selection for Calving Ease will lead you to a herd of dumb cattle with parrot heads.
    Reasonable calvings can be achieved by letting heifers get older & bigger before breeding so they can handle a normal size calf.
    Tyusclan walk out in my pasture - You'll KNOW who the bull is, LOL.
     
  7. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    I am not at all sure what the result of such selection will be, but here is a thought.

    The fellows I sell bulls to are all small-timers. Most have less than 50 cows, most fewer than that and only one bull.

    These fellows do not separate their herds, and the heifers run with the cows, thus getting bred on their first or second heats. Such people just have to have a low-birthweight bull, so I aim to please with EPD's for calving ease direct and low-birthweight daughters.

    Many of these people also sell throughout the year. When they need a few dollars or when a calf is big enough to suit them they haul it to market. This means they need a fast-growing high-weaning-weight EPD so that they can pull the calf, sell it and let the cow rest.

    Since they keep their own heifers and change bulls periodically they want a heifer who will give milk and raise a good calf, so EPD's for milk need to be solid.

    Also, most of the cattlemen around here are little-cow men. They do not want to support a l500 pound cow. They think 1100 or 1200 is big enough to raise a good calf.

    Finally, I think the cow business will undergo a huge change in a few years. We are going to have NAIS. Like it or not, it is coming, and all the privacy government promises will be there. However, cattlemen who have good genetics (retail value, tenderness, high yearling weights, the commercial qualities) will be standing in line to give the packers their NAIS ID's and will be getting a premium for their animals. It is time for those of you who will still be around to put premium genetics into your cow herds.
     
  8. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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  9. LMonty

    LMonty Well-Known Member

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    What does EPD stand for?
     
  10. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Expected progeny differences. It is a measure of the difference between the performance of a specific animal and the average for the breed.

    The people who sell us semen from high-performance bulls have done statistical studies that permit them to predict how the offspring of their animals will perform. After a bull has been used a certain number of times, and the results of these breedings have been reported, they can also tell us how reliable their predictions will be.

    For example, an outfit called ABS Global has a bull called New Design 878, an Angus, whose EPD's predict that his calves will be 43 pounds heavier at weaning and 84 pounds heavier as yearlings than the average. They list the accuracy of predictions at 98%.

    The companies who run these bull studs list the EPD's for physical attributes such as calving ease and weight, rib-eye area, milk production and stature, but also the economic values such as weaned calf value and feedlot value as compared to other sires in the breed.

    I know nothing about dairy animals, but I would bet that the bull studs have similar listings for the attributes of milk producers.
     
  11. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Ox I can understand you using the bulls you do - You are producing what your market finds most useful. My market is standing in the milking string in my barn. So I produce what will work best for that. The lion's share of dairy farmers have strict control over what age and size heifers are bred at.
    The industry was content with having heifers calve at 24 months of age(Breed at 15 months). Well now the "efficiency" experts are pushing for heifers having their first calf at 22 or even 20 months of age. My feeling on that is they don't let the heifer reach it's full potential, and so it's lifetime production is compromised.

    Having a wide muzzle and a wide barrel chest doesn't necessarily mean cows have to be tall or large cattle. I have seen cows that are almost as wide as they are tall, from front shoulders all way back to their hips, yet they fall in that 1,100 to 1,400 pounds.
     
  12. LMonty

    LMonty Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, Oxankle, for that excellent explanation! I appreciate it. Like anything else, cattle folks have their own "language" and its difficult to find a Rosetta Stone for it! :)

    Mostly I lurk, but Ive been inhaling this room for a few weeks now since I found it, trying to learn, reading whatever I can find on general cattle husbandry on the net. Hope to get a few mini's when we finally sell (house just went on market) and move to a place with room.

    Just wanted to tell y'all how very valuable the discussions are to me. Next best thing to getting OJT is listening to the folks actually living it. Appreciate your taking the time to answer questions. Ive got a lot to learn.
     
  13. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    UP North:

    Funny you should mention the trend toward breeding cattle early. I have always heard that there were two main schools of thought on breeding--some favor breeding at 700 pound no matter what the age, others bred so that the heifer calved at 24 months. My brother let some of his go until they were 26 or even 28 months old before they calved.

    Now, here in this community we have an old fellow who has been chasing cattle since he was six years old. People here regard him, like Shanghai Pierce was down in Texas, as "Webster on Cattle".

    Not long ago I was told of a conversation with this fellow concerning breeding age. His opinion was that the earlier a cow calved the better. He was saying that in his experience his best cows, with the best calf production, the longest productive lives and the healthiest were those that calved very young.

    My own opinion is that he might have been observing the effects of good genetics for health and fast growth, not a result of early breeding.
    Where heifers run with the herd it is the fastest growing, strongest, healthiest who will breed the earliest in life. Nevertheless, I am shifting to the "700 pound" group. A healthy, well fed Angus heifer will reach 700 pounds well before l5 months. If one is over 700 pounds and comes in heat here she is going to be AI'd to a low birth-weight bull.
    Ox
     
  14. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Respectfully, the low birth weight followed by explosive growth curve is a "sweet spot" acheived by Angus breeders - but was never seriously pursued or achieved by the dairy industry.
    Dairy Bull Calving ease is on a scale of 5 to 15, easy to most difficult.
    For years and years dairy farmers would breed first calf heifers to Angus to insure the survival of the Holstein Heifer so she would enter the milking string. Well then came AI Calving Ease Holstiens. No more loss of one generation of milking stock. So the rule was breed at 750 pounds and 15 months of age. Bulls ranked 7( Like Paulo-Bro DEMAND) or 8 on calving ease are usually used on heifers. Maybe a 9. Bulls 10 to 14 were used on mature cows, with Bulls (Like ENCORE) ranking 15 only rarely used to produce massive showstock cows.

    Dairy calving Ease Bulls are used extensively now, but they aren't necessariy producing good cattle. No explosive growth curve. just narrow shouldered, smaller framed cattle with a lack of capacity to perform.