SIRE SELECTION Doing Your Homework Before the Bull Sale By Micky Burch, Contributing Writer
Caleb Boardman, University of Wyoming, presented “How to do your homework before the bull sale starts” at the 2019 Range Beef Cow Symposium held in Mitchell, Neb., Nov. 18-20, 2019.
W hen Margaret Mead said, “Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else,” she likely wasn’t thinking about cow-calf producers making bull selec- tion decisions for their operations. But for producers in the second decade of the 21st century, there’s seldom been a truer statement. Caleb Boardman, University of Wyoming assistant lecturer and livestock judging coach, made that point in his presenta- tion “How to do your homework before the bull sale starts: goals, expected progeny differences (EPDs) and how he looks” at the 2019 Range Beef Cow Symposium hosted in Mitchell, Neb., Nov. 18-20. The main reason to take the time to select what you feel is the right bull for your operation is to improve genetics and, correspondingly, increase income. “These are bulls you’re buying as an investment and if you’re keeping daughters out of them, they’re going to influ- ence your herd for the next 10 to 12 years,” Boardman said. In fact, according to “Beef Sire Selection Recommenda- tions” from beef-cattleextension.org , “sires used in the last three generations contribute 87.5 percent of the genes in a particular calf crop, so it’s important to consider all aspects of a sire’s influence in your herd when making your decision.” On the other hand, Boardman pointed out, “if your opera- tion has terminal goals, and you sell everything at weaning or retain ownership, the majority of your income is coming from the genetic decision you’re making by buying this particular animal, so I’d encourage you to put time and effort into buying this one animal to try to increase your genetic selection as much as you can.” There’s no one bull for every operation, Boardman reminded attendees.
“A bull that works in one part of the world for one opera- tion’s goals may not work for another operation or their goals,” he said. “First and foremost, know what your goals are and what type of animal is going to fit into your particular operation.” Oftentimes, the best way to find the right bull for your operation is through the use of breed EPDs – the prediction of how each animal’s future progeny are expected to perform relative to the progeny of other animals. Boardman reminded attendees that breed associations often have EPD explana- tions and definitions on their website, and Santa Gertrudis Breeders International (SGBI) is no different. SGBI’s “Data Collection and Submission Resource Guide,” found at www.santagertrudis.com , reminds producers that “the use of the breed’s genetic evaluation is the most powerful tool available to SGBI members for the measurement of economi- cally relevant traits. The capability to utilize the association’s genetic tools enables SGBI members to identify breeding stock with superior genetic merit. The ability to increase the proportion of genes having the desired effect on traits of economic importance is essential to long-term profitability in today’s competitive seedstock industry.” SGBI’s EPDs are expressed in units of measure (plus or minus) and include the traits shown in the chart on page 24. While EPDs are a primary tool for animal selection, Board- man advised attendees to remember they’re only as good as the person reporting them, and that many times it’s still hard to compare EPDs between sire prospects because those animals may have been raised in different physical environ- ments and were likely not raised under the same management
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