Building Better Beef ……. My Thoughts
After 20 years of milking cows and 35 years involvement in seed stock production I feel fairly qualified to raise some concerns over the current direction we are moving in the beef industry. Here are my thoughts and a little about our Simmental genetics.
Researchers have known and common sense dictates that genetics are mostly a function of environment or G by E in geneticists terms. Recently the national association of plant breeders released a study of how much the individual corn plant has improved yield after 75 years of epd’s, indexices and genomics. That would be 0. Yep a big goose egg. What has changed is that they moved the center line of the bell shaped curve higher or raised the average. They made it more tolerant to higher populations, better root system more tolerant to drought, etc. So to think there is a bull out there that will be perfect for everyone and revolutionize any breed is improbable. Because of G by E he would in all probability never be found if there were such a bull.
So you say look at the ASA and AAA trends and you can see the impressive strides we have made. Birth weights are down, growth is up and carcass traits have improved greatly. Now stop and think about what has changed in the last 10 years. The average cow weight is down considerably and those big birth weight cows are now history. With cow weights lower birth weight had to follow. Creep feeding has come of age as a management tool. We no longer report it so almost everyone creeps so as not to get left behind. Rotational grazing is now the rule rather than the exception. Are the genetics better or the management and environment better?
In the last 10 years feedlot management has turned professional. They all have nutritionists that know how to feed cattle to grade choice or prime and higher protein yields more muscle .So have genetics changed or has management and environment improved?
At Springer Simmentals we use a common sense approach to breeding cattle. Yes epd’s , indicies and genomics are part of that, but consistency of a high quality product with fertility and correct structure is our priority.
We want your calves to be born as large as possible yet without pulls or breed back problems. With 1400 lb cows we want then all to weigh 85 to 95 lbs. No 60 lb dinks at birth and at weaning. We want you to have 650 to 700 lb weaned calves without creep. Why pay that creep feed bill when genetics can do it for free.
Structure is a huge part of longevity. Heel depth, foot size and shape, hock angle and shoulder angle all play huge roles in making an animal comfortable within itself. Like an athlete who runs with grace and ease, cows and bulls should move freely and gracefully, yet with enough muscle for profitability.
Our herdsires have extremely large scrotal measurements. Our sale measurements are actual and some of the largest in the Simmental breed. Large scotals mean more cows bred earlier in the season and daughters that breed back easily and again early in the season. This translates into greater profitability for both you and I.
The most important thing we select for in my mind is consistency. Right back to improving the average of the bell shaped curve .Our herd sires have to sire calves that ALL excel and make herd sires or replacements . We expect all of our calves to be born healthy and vigorous, to grow fast on grass without creep, to gain fast on a predominately forage based ration .We expect our bulls to be structurally correct to handle rough terrain and to have large scrotals for herd improving daughters. We expect our replacement females to be better than their mothers, no excuses. Only then will they make your life easier and more profitable.
Continue to watch my website for upcoming thoughts or feel free to contact me through email or cell.