Bull Buying Season is Here

Did you know that there are still buyers that base their bull and semen selections on Phenotype (outward appearance) and never consider Genotype (genetics). As long as people are basing their selections solely on phenotype they will never progress. These days, with Genomically Enhanced EPD’s backed by DNA, we that actually want to improve our bottom line — can.

My analogy for buying a bull or semen without a full understanding of EPD’s is like buying hay without a forage analysis– it can be green, touch all the senses, but still have a lower Crude Protein and TDN. — “You just can’t tell by looking”.

I’m not saying that a visual appraisal isn’t necessary, but all bull buyers should have a good understanding of EPD’s, which will assist them in their decision-making processes. Ask your bull providers for Genomically Enhanced EPD’s as the “proof is in the pudding”.

Genetic Defects

This has become an ethical issue for many. If your bull providers don’t test their bulls (which only costs $25) then they are telling you it’s easier to keep you in the dark and/or you aren’t worth twenty-five dollars. Luckily for some seed stock providers, there are still buyers out there that don’t pay any attention to genetic defects. They don’t realize it, but they are on borrowed time.

My take on “Red Delicious Beef”

It has long been known by all (or so I thought); that our best beef gets exported and we, American’s, eat the crap no one else in the World wants. This post is an expansion of a blog post from @CBKimbrell titled “Red Delicious Beef“.

In the USA, our homegrown Beef is Graded on the Quality System (Prime, Choice, Select) and the rest of the world including South America, EU, UK, AU, etc are on the Yield Grade System. The differences are apparent in that “we prefer” marbled grain-fed beef (quality pounds), with less emphasis on Yield and the rest of the world is concerned with quantity pounds (Yield).

In order to maintain the consistent quality of Prime and Choice in our commercial herds, those of us in the seedstock business must raise the kind of breeding stock that will assist our commercial counterparts with this endeavor.

This is the reason I seem so harsh with Beef Magazines’ (BM) Seedstock 100 (SS100). A large percentage of the SS100 breeders have cattle that in no way can provide the superior genetics that are required to meet the needs of our commercial cattlemen/women as they pursue the highest quality possible, thus reaping the premiums associated with that quality. 

To me, this is unfortunate because of several reasons: 

  1. Commercial operations are not reaping the benefits of the best quality genetics
  2. Commercial operations are not reaping the benefits of all premiums possible
  3. Commercial operations are being fed propaganda by a Feeder-oriented BM Publication
  4. It’s unfortunate that consumers are choosing other meat choices, which is more than likely caused by an increase in those lower quality cuts due in part by less than stellar beef cattle genetics promoted by the ilk of Beef Magazine and others.
  5. Lastly, it is unfortunate that some feel the need to export our best beef and feed our own people all the crap that no one else in the World wants

I like what Mark Gardiner says about the cattle business:

A lot of people spend so much time and effort on things that don’t have anything to do with making money in the cattle business.

Its not too complicated. It involves calves that are born alive, grow efficiently, sell at a good pay weight when sold ahead of the feedlot or as a premium carcass through retained ownership, and leave a sister in the herd that will replicate it all again. Accomplishing this goal with Genetics is just as straightforward.

The old technology of using proven, high accuracy bulls through Artificial Insemination (AI) works exceedingly well, Gardiner says. His family is a longtime proponent of embracing technology and stacking proven genetics in the name of accelerated genetic progress.”

What this statement says to me, as a seedstock producer, (and should say to every single member of Beef Magazines SS 100) is that if “we” are not using the best bulls available (no matter who raised them) through an AI program that “we” are really doing a dis-service to our buyers – the commercial cattlemen/women that tirelessly go out everyday in harsh environments to make an honest living for themselves and to feed our own people and the World. 

Beef – It’s What’s For Dinner

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5 principles for millennial ranchers to follow

Taken from an article of the same name in BeefMagazine

  1. Patience

It’s unlikely you’ll transition to managing the ranch fresh out of school, particularly if there are still a couple of older generations involved. You may feel like the ranch is your birthright, but it won’t make you successful right out of the gate. Don’t sit around and wait for your inheritance. Know that it took decades for the ranch to be built to its current level, and it will take time for you to achieve your ranching goals, as well.

My Comments are in blue

Don’t think you are going to walk into something; like ranching, in your 20’s; that took generations to build. You will have to pay your dues, just like every generation that has come before you. Remember that only 2% of the population is in Agriculture, if it was easy more would be doing it – after all it is not for everyone and it is definitely not your birthright.

Instead, go off on your own, buy / lease some land, work another job, live in a rat hole if need be, eat skettios for every meal if need be, buy your own cattle, equipment, drive junk to work daily, etc, for about a decade — or more. Prove to the older generation that you really want it bad enough, that you aren’t a quitter and would actually be an asset to the family ranching operation. This is what it will take.

  1. Discipline

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Know when to take advantage of opportunities and when to pull back. The average farm family living expense is close to $90,000 per year. Be willing to make sacrifices, face scrutiny from friends and neighbors and make do with current equipment to avoid falling into financial pitfalls. With discipline, you’ll also be better prepared to move on opportunities as they come along.

If this is your expenses for a young farm family you need to either wake up from that dream or refer to Mori’s #1 in  8 tips from an old timer on how to succeed in ranching

You will have to be willing to watch your peers get married / start a family, buy nice homes, fancy cars, boats, ATV’s, RV’s and go on fabulous vacations while you sit in a rat hole driving an old truck to a second job every day with time off spent repairing old farm junk someone discarded long ago, because you are building something for the future. Debt will be your nemesis. Do that and you will have earned your so-called birthright.

  1. Out-of-the-box thinking

When you come home to the ranch, don’t divide the income that is currently there. Instead, add to the operation by diversifying. This can be in the form of additional crops, a second breed of cattle, a hay enterprise, working remotely in an agri-business position, or doing side jobs to make ends meet. This can alleviate some pressures of the ranch enterprise and allow for more consistent cash flow. Remember that 70% of ranches rely on off-farm income, so be willing to work hard on and off the ranch to advance your pursuits.

Out of the box thinking is good, but do these things on your own place. Go and earn the right to be here. Show some backbone, just because we share the same last name doesn’t mean you deserve it. This may seem harsh to some, but it takes the right kind of mindset to do this work day and day out and under varying and adverse conditions.

  1. Communication

Communication isn’t a cliché; it’s the cornerstone of success for ranchers. Talk with your spouse and make sure your goals align. Talk with your parents and grandparents and know where they stand on transitioning the ranch. Talk with your banker, lawyer and other industry professionals who can help you succeed. And talk with consumers who will ultimately determine the way you do business.

This should have long since been a communication in which you already know you will not walk into a successful ranching operation ready to take over after making a few C’s in college on your parents’ dime. Talk to whomever you want to talk to and refer to #1 and #2. Long since you have already discussed this in detail with your potential or then spouse. refer back to Mori’s #6.

  1. Networking

Get involved. Attend cattlemen’s meetings. Introduce yourselves to folks. Develop your network within the industry. Join a group that is active in policy development and lobbying for the industry. Be at the table for important discussions. The people you meet in the beef cattle industry are a great source of support and learning opportunities.

Networking is good if you can afford a computer in your first couple of years. Be at your own table for important discussions. As you suffer through the decade(s) — you will have then been around long enough to appreciate what those hardships really meant to you and as an aging rancher you will appreciate what it taught you. Also, as you suffer through the challenges ranching provides there are always those people willing to assist a young rancher in his/her endeavor. Lastly, find a mentor, not family, that is successful in ranching.

 

Mori’s 8

Mori acknowledged that many ranchers hold outside jobs or have other businesses besides ranching. “If you don’t have nothing else but ranching, you better get with it and sacrifice and change your lifestyle,” he said. “It’s gonna be tough; you bet it’ll be tough. But, the good times will come.”

He’s right, you know. When I started in 1982, it was at a time of the worst farming times of the age, some said. Many farmers and ranchers were not only quitting, but also planning never to return to it again. My mentor of those days told me the same things as you hear today; he said go get a job in town and save your money — every dime. Invest in yourself and maybe someday you will have what you want.

Now in my 35th year ranching, I too have a few thoughts to share.

Mori’s tips for today’s young ranchers.

1. Sacrifice luxury items such as expensive hobbies, new pickup trucks and cars, and brand-new equipment. “A new truck, no doubt you’ll need it, but you just can’t afford it. You can’t go out there and buy one of those fancy tractors. Nowadays, they’ll break you doing that,” Mori says.

You have to keep Ag-Business out of your pocket – no new equipment; no new trucks; no new Atv’s/Utv’s; no grand vacations; no fancy homes; because you just cant make it on borrowed money.

2. Make do with older tractors, balers, and other farm equipment. “You have to fix them, and learn to fix them,” Mori says.

When Mori bought his ranch at Jack Creek in 1958, the buildings were run down and the house was infested with rats. He cleaned up the infrastructure, demolishing and improving as needed over the years, and now his great-grandchildren live on the ranch that he started.

I started with no grass, no fences, no cattle pens, no cattle, no equipment, no tractor; a house built in the 1850’s with no running water that you could hear the wind whistling thru every winter and a 1972 Ford pickup.

There was farm junk strown from one end to the other on this place; leftovers from a time gone by; from pre-Civil War times to the early 1980’s. I lived in that rat hole of a house for about 6 months before I had running water and spent the next 2 years just cleaning it and the property. I cant tell you how many loads of junk I hauled out of there, but it was a lot. I took a job in town loading trucks at night and worked on my place during the day.

In 1984, I contracted out the planting of improved grasses, opting out of the government funded program because of never wanting to feel like I owed them for anything and continued loading trucks at night. I fenced the place in 1984 and 1985 with some of it still standing and in good shape today.

In 1986, I had finally accumulated enough money to buy the first cattle I had and bought 25 bred heifers. The year after that I bought 25 more and continued to work in town at night loading trucks.  The 80’s were many long days and putting every dime I had into ranching; bought a used tractor, a used baler, a used rake and a flatbed trailer and built a stout cattle pen out of 6×6 treated posts and 2×8’s. I spent my 20’s working like a Hebrew, too tired for a social life.

In 1989, I decided to give my full time to ranching, kinda, yet still worked for another cattleman everyday and took care of my cattle when I could. I planted a garden every year and learned to put up veggies; I harvested the fatted calf and put up a good amount of venison each year; Wild Turkey in the spring and catfish out of the stock tank in the summer. 

The 80’s were hard times, droughts of 1986 and 1988, were both killers and the fall run of hurricanes were tough too, but I had a vision. Those were the days I watched my peers start out with more and end up with less — usually headed to town to never return to the cattle business again.

3. Be ready for an upturn in the cattle market.

“You have to take advantage of it, you want to be ready for it,” Mori says. “Right now, we had a really big spurt in cattle prices, and I tell you what, this helped everyone.”

The upturn for me was doing more with less with the hopes of more at some time in my life. Ranching takes a lot of planning and one must think about the worse case scenario while your peers are practicing naive optimism. The upturn for me was my decision to produce registered cattle instead of commercial — yeah the initial investment was more, but so were the returns (hopefully).

4. Beware of the temptation to buy a brand new pickup with your calf check in a flush year; see #1.

I had my first new truck in 1993 and first new tractor in 1999. Paid in full. My biggest pet peeve is Ag-Business with their hands out wanting your hard earned pay. They will do anything for a dollar including lie, cheat and steal. 

5. Adjust your traveling and lifestyle to revolve around the ranch. Annual vacations, except to the Elko County Fair, usually aren’t in the cards for a northern Nevada cattle rancher. “You gotta stay home and do the work. It’ll take you longer to do it with the antiquated equipment,” Mori says.

My lifestyle was much different from all the others and still is as everything I did revolved around ranching. Every time I get down about the life I have chosen for myself; I think about how others have to live and remember that at least I wasn’t one of those poor bastards sitting in traffic in Atlanta- a pink slip away from destitution.

6. Marry well. “You need a good wife to do it with or you’re not going to make it,” Mori advises young men. He has been married to Ida May for the majority of his life, and she has played an integral role in developing his ranching business.

Traditionally, ranch wives, did all the cooking and errand-running, retrieving machinery parts and other supplies from town as needed. Nowadays, many these ranching partners also keep the books on home software programs and take care of business correspondence via email, among many other ranch jobs.

Very important; you have to find a girl, that also thinks quality of life is more important than the “stuff” some people feel the need to acquire. Basically, if she thinks a hamburger at the Tasty Freeze in town (with Ice cream) is high living –she might be the right one. 

7. Cultivate and maintain good friendships. The ranching community is a tight network, and its members are happy to help each other out during tough times.

“I had a lot of friends, whenever I got in trouble, which I did several times, they were there right now. They always helped me. That’s really important, in ranching especially, to have good friends and a good family,” Mori emphasizes.

This is also very true. More and more our numbers are dwindling in animal agriculture. Here, even today, there are only 5 of us in the County, which is one of the largest agricultural counties in the State.

8. Get a good banker who understands agriculture and will work with your unique situation. Sometimes, a rancher will be unable to make his loan payment on time, so be sure and explain this to your banker in advance of the bill date.

I have mixed emotions about this because I know that you cannot live on borrowed money and in the market we find ourselves involved in I think it is best to stay away from the bankers as long as possible. I did it — so can you.

My tips for young ranchers:

  • The Mentor > Find a successful rancher
  • Sometimes Extension folks (even in good faith) don’t always know what works or doesn’t work and their bad decisions wont affect them — just you.
  • Do your own research, be open-minded, but don’t fix it — if it works
  • Be a life-long-learner.

Still Confusion With EPD’s and GE-EPD’s

EPD’s. While touted by those whom they benefit most as so, so important are at best frustrating.  We hear of sires that were once at the top 25% with over 2000 progeny drop to the bottom 25% overnight make you question the numbers and those who are manipulating them.

EPD’s, as you know, are a tool that we all should use in the cattle business, as a guide. Genomically Enhanced (GE) EPD’s tell an even a better story as DNA doesn’t lie. As with all technology, whether it is computers or cattle; many things become obsolete in a very short time.

As far as bulls go; If you buy a 2 yr old bull – his 1st calf crop won’t have made it through the system; birth to harvest until he is 4 yrs old; his 2nd calf crop as a 5 yr old; 3rd calf crop as a 6 yr old and so on.

When looking at young bulls; you will notice that he may have really good EPD’s but with low accuracies, because they don’t have any progeny yet, but in the cases where their Sire’s and Dam’s have high accuracies, theirs should as well, but this is where DNA testing helps improve those accuracies.

Along with DNA testing; we can put bulls into a bull program like American Simmental Association’s (ASA) Carcass Merit Program (CMP).

Bull owners pay the CMP to:
• *Allows for 30 – 60 calves born when a bull is young (15 months) providing real data sooner, thus improving accuracies
• Normally a bull would be a 5 yr old (maybe longer) before he had 60 head of progeny thru the system birth to harvest.
• Allows bull owners to have their bulls used in real world situations in every cattle producing area of the US
• Have data collected from birth to harvest
• Basically for third-party, unbiased data collection
*This program combined with DNA improves the accuracies of the EPD’s in a shorter amount of time.

How do we decide on which bulls to use? Normally I choose bulls with high accuracies for the traits I am interested in improving on. Yes, these are Proven Sires.

When we sell young bulls (14-15 months); those bulls out of High Accuracy Sires and Dams, backed by DNA, will often be your best bet.  Those bulls that show up in the top 25% as youngsters and drop to the bottom 25% in a few years are normally the progeny of Low Accuracy Sires, Sires with no progeny to speak of and/or no DNA backing.

If you can study structure and type, watch the videos of the high numbered cattle out there. It will make you want to choose those that are a little back in the pack. I am convinced that chasing numbers will lead to a herd of cattle that will make you puke.

Again, some of those bulls that show high numbered EPD’s as youngsters and drop in a few years are normally the progeny of Low Accuracy Sires and Dams, Sires with no progeny to speak of and/or sub-fertile Dams and/or no DNA backing. Most bulls fall into this category, sadly.

• Also, many cattlemen don’t understand genetics, well enough, to know how great bulls are made > It takes a great Sire (S) and a great Maternal Grand sire (MGS).
• High Fertility Dams
• Also, bulls that are more balanced across the board are able to help improve more cows, because the cows in most herds all have differing needs for improvement.

Breeding cattle is not something that can be done with a computer, however, more and more of our cattle breeders are doing so because they are being rewarded for it. I think it will come back and bite us. Where are the numbers for structure, udder quality, docility, scrotal size, tight sheath, fleshing quality, etc???

I use the computer to choose High Accuracy Bulls; the ones with a large data set of progeny and those that are backed by DNA. In the end, everyone has differing ideas about what a good bull is, but my analogy for choosing a bull without using GE EPD’s is like buying hay without a forage test — it may be green, touch all the senses, but still be lower in CP and TDN– you just can’t tell by looking.

We have our own set of attributes for a cow to make it here:
1. Structurally Sound
2. Possess High Fertility
3. Phenotype Typical of the Breed
4. Good Udder Attachment and Teat Placement
5. Moderate Milk Production
6. Superb Reproductive Performance
7. Great Disposition
8. Great Mothering Ability
9. Calving Interval < 365 Days
10. Weaning Weight of Calves at 50% of Dam’s Weight
11. Calve Annually Unassisted
12. Show Capacity
13. Longevity / Stay-ability
14. Puberty at an Early Age
15. Moderate Frame
16. Easy Fleshing on Available Resources (Grazing Only)
17. Good Carcass Merit Qualities
18. Moderate Mature Weight
19. Good Maternal Calving Ease Traits
20. Average or better for all EPD’s of Economic Importance

For bulls, I really think that bulls from your immediate area (200 mile radius) will do the best jobs being already acclimated to the environment, forages, etc..

We try to make up fictitious numbers for important qualities such as “maintenance energy” yet the cattle do not match the numbers. Extreme calving ease numbers with monster yearling weight epds probably only occur in our fantasies yet they are common when performing epd searches.

I wouldn’t agree that they are fictitious numbers, rather are data that has been added to the system by those of us in Total Herd Enrollment Programs. (i.e. ASA’s THE or CMP). Here again, those calves born out of GE-EPD high accuracy Sires and proven GE-EPD Dam’s usually have better EPD’s than your run of the mill average calf— this is why some people do it in the first place. Plus it adds needed info to the database. Information is still King.

Low milk sires are great if you have a happy herd builder index because they lead to stability but are disasters if they don’t come from a handful of pedigrees in which it is a good trait. WTF?? I get confused trying to interpret these numbers and I have 3 degrees.

This is the reason I quit being a member of RAAA; these numbers they dreamed up. I am still a Member of ASA and a participant of the THE, since the beginning.

The Red Angus numbers are weighted the most for Stay (longevity), which is going against Mother Nature. Mother Nature doesn’t put longevity of the parent highest on her list, rather she puts the needs of the young (in this case calves) first. You won’t last long tryin’ the buck Ma Nature. That dog just won’t hunt.

So, the Red Angus Herd Builder Index is highly weighted for Stay. When I look at Red Angus, I see some help is needed in WW, YW, ADG, MCE, MWW, Marb, YG, MM, BF, Shr…. they need A LOT of help, yet Red Angus has decided to weight their best trait (Stay) the most, which does nothing for Milk, Marbling, Udder Quality, scrotal; we can go on and on.

When you take your best trait and weight it the most in your indexes your other traits that need improvement will never improve. This appeases membership as everyone looks rosy, but at the same time does a disservice to everyone buying Red Angus cattle.

If you want improvement, say in MCE (which is terrible in Red Angus), then more weight has to be given to MCE in the parameters of the Index. What then happens is seedstock breeders apply more selection pressure toward that trait and wa-la (Voila) –we have improvement. This is not rocket science –this is common sense.

I guess it is best to blindly follow the numbers so it is not your fault when the cattle disappoint. Not your fault, the numbers said the cattle would be great. Sweet dreaming. We will use EPD’s as tools but cannot and will not allow them to ruin our cattle.

Fodder Production – Drought-Proof Your Operation

Fodder Production

High grain prices and droughts are driving up interest in alternative feeds. Recently that interest focuses on sprouting barley for fodder production. A number of companies have developed systems for automated or semi-automated sprouted barley production.

Sprouted fodder is not a new idea. There are references to sprouting small grains for fodder dating back at least to the 1600s. What is new is the technology and engineering that makes it economically competitive with other feeding options. Light, moisture and consistent temperatures are critical for sprouted fodder to work

What has revolutionized sprouted barley fodder as a viable feed alternative is high efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting and more affordable climate control systems. LED lighting in particular is very energy efficient with little excess heat generated. Although LED is more expensive to buy upfront, the long-term operating expenses are greatly reduced. LEDs also last much longer than any other option, and do not lose output over time.

Many of the advances made in sprouted barley fodder have come from Australia–several of the systems used here are based on their designs. During Australia’s severe droughts, barely fodder provided valuable nutrition when fresh pasture was not available.

Here in the U.S., the sprouted barley fodder is often brought into the ration to replace protein previously supplied by dry grain. Of course, it is also beneficial in the non-pasture season to bring fresh forage to the animals.

Nutritional Benefits

The main benefit of sprouted fodder in comparison to feeding grain is improved protein, starch and sugar. Nearly all of the starch present in the grain is converted to sugar by sprouting, which is better utilized by the rumen than the dry grain. This reduces acidosis problems, as the rumen pH stays more stable without the constant input of starch.

Mineral and vitamin levels in hydroponically-sprouted barley are significantly increased over those in grain; in addition, they are absorbed more efficiently due to the lack of enzyme inhibitors in sprouted grain.

Sprouts provide a good supply of vitamins A, E, C and B complex. There is very little dry matter in sprouted barley fodder (17%). Feeding fodder must include a source of roughage i.e. dry hay, but the hay does not have to be of highest quality.

Why Barley and Not Other Small Grains?

Barley is the most nutritious of the small grains, stores well and is easy to grow. Wheat and oats will work, but barley sprouts the best, grows the fastest and is most cost-effective of all the grains tried.

To work well for sprouted fodder, the barley seed needs a high germination rate and must be very clean. Some companies recommend mixing seeds; 2 pounds of barley and 2 ounces of sunflower seeds, which yields 20 pounds (on average, a 10:1 ratio). A general rule of thumb is a yield of 1:7–one pound of barley seed will produce seven pounds of sprouted fodder.

Systems for Sprouting Barley

To sprout barley consistently and economically, you need a climate-controlled space, lighting of sufficient brightness (lumens), a soaking vat, a rack and tray system and a watering system.

All systems, regardless of size, must be insulated and climate controlled. The ideal temperature is 70 degrees F, with humidity held high and constant, but not too high that mold becomes an issue. Air movement is necessary to control mold, so many systems incorporate fans or air handling systems.

Choosing the right light, and the right amount of light, is very important to the success of a sprouted barley system. Optimal production requires 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. Low-light levels and shorter day lengths will slow the process and reduce production.

Racking the sprouting system vertically is the most efficient use of space. Nearly all the systems being sold are racked and then set up with sprouting trays to hold the seed. In fully automated systems, water emitters either spray or flood the trays on a regular basis. The trays must have a drainage system. Seeds need to be kept moist, but they cannot sit in water, or mold and bacteria will become problems.

How the Process Works

The barley seed must be very clean and have a high germination rate. Dirty seed will have mold problems and require a lot of labor time in cleaning both seed and equipment. Low germination rates will decrease the efficiency of the system.

Clean grain must be soaked 8 to 12 hours. Hydrogen peroxide or bleach is sometimes used in the soaking water to kill mold spores (allowed in organic systems) and the soak water is sometimes aerated.

After soaking, the grain is drained and spread onto trays. Temperatures should be kept between 60 and 75 degrees F, with 70 degrees ideal. The grain must be kept moist to sprout.

The sprouted barley is harvested between six and eight days of growth. Nutrition will be lost but weight gained by days seven and eight. At harvest, the barley shoots will be about six inches tall with a two inch mat of interwoven roots.

The sprouted grain is harvested by removing the tray or sliding the mat off the tray in one long sheet. The mats can be cut to the appropriate size and fed to cattle. By starting new grain every day, the system can constantly provide fresh fodder.

Deciphering Through the Bull

Recently, I was looking over a bull sale and noticed the cooperators had gone out and determined how they would base quality rather than using the mainstream tried and proven way to do so. Here are their quality parameters in blue.

Quotes from Powerline Genetics Bull Sale catalog 2/13/2016

When using EPDs it is best to compare the values of potential herd candidates. The difference between two candidates for some trait indicates the potential increase or decrease in that trait. However, profit is rarely based on a single trait and will be based on a combination of performance measures associated with growth, feed efficiency, and carcass value.

Instead of using the tried and proven method already outlined in American Simmental Association using all the traits of economic importance like CE, BW, WW, YW, ADG, MCE, Milk, MWW, DOC, CW, YG, Marb, BF, REA and Shear; Indexes API and TI and based on sound science; this group decided that only WW, Feed Conversion, CW and Carcass Quality are needed to assist you in your buying decisions and preferences.

They go on to explain their Index called the Power Bull Index (PBI):

A powerful tool that simplifies the selection process is the Power Bull Index (PBI), combining the genetic and profit potential for a bull based on his genetic merit for growth, efficiency and carcass. The index value is measured in dollars per calf marketed.

They reiterate their quality parameters associated with their Index.

The relative emphasis put on traits includes weaning weight (25%), feed conversion (20%), carcass weight (30%), and carcass quality (25 %)

They give you how each quality parameter is weighted in the computation of their Index PBI. On to an example below:

As an example in using the PBI, in Table 2 we present three potential herd bull candidates. Last year Buyer A purchased a bull with a 115 PBI and was very pleased with the calves overall performance but would like to see a slight increase in weaning.

He is interested in either Bull A or B. In order to see the increase in WW desired, Bull B would potentially bring higher calf weaning weights for this buyer.

Alternatively, Buyer B retains ownership on his calves through finishing and markets his feeders on the grid. He is looking to maintain a high percentage of calves grading choice with Yield Grades of 1 or 2. With the highest PBI value of the three bulls and superior REA and MARB and with above average WW performance Bull C is likely the best herd sire candidate for Buyer B.

                 Table 2

          Index                  EPD’s
Bull     PBI        WW     REA     Marb
  A        115           30     0.30      0.25
  B        115           35      0.32     0.20
  C        120          30     0.35      0.30

This looks a lot like a common core math problem to me. Now on to their new definitions:

EPD DEFINITIONS

• BIRTH WEIGHT (BW) – in pounds, predicts the weight at birth of the bull’s progeny compared to progeny of other bulls. A bull with a BW EPD of -1 is expected to have progeny which average 3 lb lighter than progeny of a bull with an EPD of +2.

—————————————————————————

• WEANING WEIGHT (WW) – in pounds is a measure of the weaning growth of a bull’s progeny minus maternal milk production.

This has been altered to fit their needs with the addition of minus Maternal Milk production. You will see later in some of their choices in Sire, with very low MM.

• YEARLING WEIGHT (YW) – evaluates adjusted weight performance to 365 days. Yearling weight is highly correlated to carcass weight and mature size.

This has been altered, as well, with more rhetoric trying to substantiate their Index

• CARCASS WEIGHT (CW) – predictor of an animal’s finish weight in pounds.

 This statement is reaching as well —

• RIBEYE AREA (REA) – measured in square inches between the 12th and 13th rib and adjusted to 365 days. This is a good predictor of the total amount of muscle in the carcass and is highly related to carcass weight.

That, I striked through is an addition to what REA actually stands for, just more rhetoric trying to prove their Index.

• MARBLING (MARB) – This is a 365-day adjusted marbling score measured in USDA marbling degrees. This is the primary factor in USDA quality grades.

More included rhetoric here with adjusted and degrees

• DRY MATTER INTAKE (DMI) – reported in pounds of feed consumed per day with a lower numeric value being associated with less feed consumed on a dry matter basis. When comparing two bulls a lower number indicates lesser feed intake for comparable gains.

—————————————————————————

• POWER BEEF INDEX (PBI) – provides a balanced indicator of a bull’s profitability based on a combination of weaning performance, carcass weight, carcass quality and feed intake.
Adapted from EPD Basics and Definitions, Matt Spangler, Univ. of Nebraska, http://www.ebeef.org.

Again a reiteration of what is included in the PBI Index —

For real definitions of the EPD’s and Indexes associated with Simangus™ you can find those here.

Now scrape your boots off as we enter the sale tent — a look at the bulls. I find it quite interesting that all the bulls associated with this sale are not registered with the American Simmental Association (ASA).

Registration numbers would have been really helpful when making bull buying decisions because looking at EPD’s and Indexes based on Sound Science have a higher degree of reliability than a set of made up quality parameters that only further the agendas of a few co-operating chuckleheads. 

Also, interesting, the Dam’s side of the genetics aren’t published, so there is no way of finding the genetics of the Maternal Grand Sire (MGS). Bulls are made genetically by their Sire and MGS. More smoke and mirrors. 

Lastly, we as potential bull buyers are left with the Reference Sires as we try to determine the worth of the bulls in question. A person would have to travel the world over to find this many low quality, low grade reference sires, sons —  assembled under one tent. 

Here are the Reference Sires:

W/C UNITED 956Y; Carcass Merits in the Abyss Low API and TI
QUAKER HILLRAMPAGE 0A3; Carcass Merits in the Abyss Low API and TI for a PBAN
GAR-EGL PROTEGE; ok Carcass Merits, Lots of Negative fat, mediocre CE and MCE, red gene carrier and lower API and TI
V A R GENERATION 2100; More mediocre genetics – weak API and TI carcass merits in the abyss
K C F BENNETT ABSOLUTE; No MM pretty weak carcass merits, we used him a little this year, but better Sires out there
CCRCOWBOY CUT; I saw this bull and just laughed Double Legacy Inbred Garbage
A A R TEN X 7008 S A; excellent PBAN Bull –only 1 calf in the sale — sadly – at least someone knows a good bull when they see it.
PROTEGE PROFIT; unknown — I’m sure a real Prize.
THOMAS UP RIVER; never heard of this bull looked him up Carcass Merits in the Abyss LOW API and TI
CONNEALYCOUNSELOR; lots of negative fat found 43 head of progeny out there — not too impressive
TSN PROTEGE; never heard of this bull / more Legacy crap genetics and WLE Power Stroke junk; more low API and TI stuff
CONNEALY FINAL PRODUCT; never heard of this bull API and TI in the abyss — not worth my time
V A R RESERVE; never heard of this bull either — look at that MM wow — low API and TI negative fat —
EF COMPLEMENT;never heard of this bull — terrible carcass merits to make a low PBI – poor choice
EXAR UPSHOT; more third tier Angus — some Program risk on Genetic defects and more really weak API and TI stuff
SA V BRUISER;never heard of this bull more dismal carcass merits again for what you are trying to prove in PBI
IRONWOOD NEW ERA;never heard of this bull — wow fabulous numbers perhaps to fill a slot
HOOKS ACHILLES; 600U four times in his background; not bad numbers just an inbred mongrel
HLVW TIDE MASTER; Upgrade who is vastly inbred garbage on top of Grandmaster garbage, terrible choice in a bull
R5 MONUMENT;never heard of this bull — terrible API and TI another interesting choice in a herd sire low IMF negative fat
TJSHARPER IMAGE; dismal CE  BW MM Carcass merits low APi and TI for 2016
GLS FRONTIER; more mediocre crap genetics from 2003
Scalebuster11-383; unknown
TRAXS VELOCITY Y7;more Legacy crap genetics – carcass merits in the abyss
ELLINGSONLEGACY M229;more Legacy crap genetics, crap for growth, Stay, WW, YW — terrible choice and inbred 600U
JF RANCHER 222Z; terrible in so many ways – CE BW ADG MCE MM DOC CW Marb Shr API – sad
REMINGTON LOCK N LOAD54U; of CNS DO fame – more Legacy – terrible EPD’s and Indexes
HLVW CHANGING TIMES; just down right Pathetic with a capital P
GLS COMBINATIONR2;never heard of this bull below average API mostly due to terrible CE BW and Marb
CNS DREAM ON L186; more Legacy — all we really had in 2004 have some semen in my tank if ya know anyone wanting it
YON FUTURE FOCUS T21;may be a typo in your sale sheet T219 maybe — more mediocrity, negative fat
S A V 004 TRAVELER;all these 004’s were terrible
HC HUMMER 12M; the essence of Mediocrity from 2002
S6-1000; unknown

My advice to bull buyers is to purchase your Simangus™ bulls based on the quality parameters within American Simmental Association.

Seedstock Selection

I will never understand the mentality of the seed stock producer that refuses to raise the kind of cattle that will help others improve their cattle. This is inherently the function of all seed stock producers.

I see cattle sales all the time and really have to wonder how these people stay in business raising the kind of junk they do. Evidently their buyers are even more ignorant than they are. Here is an example:

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Deficient in CE, BW, Stay (conveniently left out; (bottom 25%)), YG, Marb, BF, REA, Shr (conveniently left out, is -0.07 (bottom 1%)), and API. A terrible BW at 93 lbs and a terrible Frame Score at 6.9; which, by the way, only increases the cost of production of his daughters. Touting a 4.4 ADG is no big deal most of my bulls are around 4.7. Last but not least, more Legacy inbred genetics–    I just have to shake my head.

Lets do a planned mating using this bull and one of my Top 1% heifers — we will prove why this bull is so bad for a cross breeding program or any program for that matter.

ASA

60C brings down an 18 CE to 13.9 –still a trait leader, but some kind of destruction there.

60C kills my BW EPD.

60C helps the WW by 4 lbs, but when we look at what he destroys we’ll see it’s not much.

60C doesn’t help the YW at all

60C brings my ADG down.

60C improves my MCE by 0.4, which is insignificant.

60C keeps MM moderate which is good.

60C brings up my MWW up by 2.3, which is insignificant.

60C brings my Docility down.

60C brings my CW up 4 points, which is insignificant.

60C brings my YG down , which isn’t good; normally stronger in PBSM

60C brings my Marbling way down from 1.24 to 0.72 — a huge drop

60C brings my BF down by 33%, which isn’t good.

60C improves my REA by 0.03, which is insignificant.

60C destroys my API Index of 197 down to 161– a 35.6 point drop

60C destroys my TI Index of 101.8 down to 87.8 — a 14 point drop

60C destroys most of my traits of economic importance while adding frame score and increasing my annual cost of production –all of which are deleterious to my business.

Simmental – Profit Through Science

PYRAMID

For Simmental and Simmental influenced cattle, we can see from this illustration what is weighted the most in computing the numbers.

API: All Purpose Index — Evaluates sires for use on the entire cow herd (bred to both Angus first-calf heifers and mature cows) with the portion of their daughters required to maintain herd size retained and the remaining heifers and steers put on feed and sold grade and yield.

Taken from Understanding ASA’s Indexes  

All EPDs, with the exception of tenderness,are taken into consideration in this index.

As you can see, the API puts heavy emphasis on bulls with good STAY (an estimate of the likelihood of a bull’s daughters staying in the herd). This should come as no surprise; research has consistently shown that reproduction trumps all else in economic importance.
STAY improves your bottom line by lessening the need for replacement females. Reducing your requirement for replacements allows you to market more young, high-value females, cuts your costs for heifer development and changes your herd’s age structure so a larger portion of your females are in their most productive years (5 through 10).
Direct and maternal calving ease also get substantial weighting in the API.This is because they are strongly associated to calf survivability and, to a lesser degree, female longevity.
Given that milk is essentially neutral in the index (the top 25 API bulls are only in the top 40% for milk), we can conclude that the benefits of increased weaning weight due to milk is negated by the additional cost associated with increased milk production.
It may be difficult for breeders to accept that the API places downward selection pressure on growth, as it is counter to the direction taken in most breeding programs.

Though increasing growth is invariably a good thing in terminal sires, its strong association with mature size makes it less desirable in replacement female sires, as increasing mature size increases cowherd maintenance requirements. Keep in mind that the positive benefits of increased growth in sires’ steers and cull females are accounted for in the API.

Nevertheless, the index is telling us that the extra cost of maintaining larger cows outweighs the benefit of increased growth in other areas of the system. Even so, the API is evidently finding sires with more carcass weight than would be expected given their growth potential. (The top 25 average in the 95 and 90th percentiles for weaning and yearling weight, while reaching the 70th percentile for carcass weight.)

From the top 25, it is evident that more weight is placed on marbling than yield grade. This is likely because there is no financial incentive to improving yield grade unless there is a problem (i.e. yield grades reach 4); for the most part, due to Simmentals superior yielding ability, SimAngus half-bloods see few discounts for yield grade.

TI. The TI is designed for evaluating sires’ economic merit in situations where they are bred to mature Angus cows and all offspring are placed in the feedlot and sold grade and yield. Consequently, maternal traits such as milk, stay-ability and maternal calving ease are not considered in the index

 

 

 

 

Understanding EPD’s

C 76sv

This is an example of a SimAngus™ bull  here at the ranch.

  • Under the EPD, we have ACC, which stands for Accuracy (normally low on young animals without progeny).
  • Finally, we have %, which is where an EPD ranks nationally (e.g 16.8 CE has a 0.20 ACC and ranks in the Top 5% nationally).
  • A trait that is Top 1% to Top 20% is considered a Trait Leader (Designated in green).
  • Top 50% is Average.
  • Other traits that are not trait leaders, but above average (Designated in blue).

Bull C 76

CE = Calving Ease of 16.8 is Top 5%, which is outstanding

Birth = Birth Weight of -2.0 is Top 10%, which is outstanding

Wean = Weaning Weight of 69.8 is Top 20%, which is outstanding

Year = Yearling Weight of 121.2 is Top 10%, which is outstanding and so on

ADG = Average Daily Gain

MCE = Maternal Calving Ease

Milk = Maternal Milk — we want an average MM, so this is optimal

MWW = Maternal Weaning Weight

Stay = Stayability or Longevity ( Not listed in Simangus)

Doc = Docility (this number isn’t assigned until the animal is weaned)

CW = Carcass Weight

YG = Yield Grade

Marb = Marbling

BF = Back Fat

REA = Ribeye Area

Shr = Shear or Tenderness – N/A

API = All Purpose Index

TI = Terminal Index

Reference Table 1 (Hybrid Simmental same as SimAngus™)

2015 Hybrid Simmental Percentile Table

 

You can see that C 76 is off the charts for many of his EPD’s and Indexes.

 

 

Ruining PBSM – A Breeders Viewpoint

What exactly did it take to ruin PB Simmental?

It began with poor leadership (Board of Directors) as more emphasis was placed on one sector (Show) than any of the others. The choice to move away from our base of remaining more commercially-focused was the beginning of the end for Purebred Simmental.

Visionaries of the past, that realized the need for change and to remain more commercially-focused had no intentions of taking PBSM down the path to ruin with the inferior genetics of the show prospect.

Today. the Purebred Sector of Simmental is a conglomeration of the worst genetics ever quantified in modern times — and penned as inbred show mongrel genetics.

The Downward Spiral of PBSM

  • Poor Leadership (without Vision)
  • Too much Emphasis on the Show Sector
  • Allowing Breeders to Opt-Out of Total Herd Enrollment  THE
  • Inbreeding (Legacy)

The Solutions to bring back PBSM

  • Make Remaining Commercially-focused our Mission Statement
  • Require all breeders to be Active in the THE
  • Dump most of the Legacy Genetics within PBSM
  • Continue the Carcass Merit Program (CMP)
  • Less emphasis on the Show Sector as it has no function in the production of meat