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Breed Identity

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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NE Oregon
I think too many breeds are trying to be everything to everybody and risk losing their Identity. In my thinking, it isn't bad to improve, but don't lose your Identity.....

When you think of a breed, what comes to mind????

With Angus, moderate to small birthweight, Marbling, and Good Mothers. While having some size isn't bad, I would say if those main traits don't exist, they shouldn't be part of the breed....

With shorthorns, it is good milkers and nice thick cattle were what I was used to.

Herefords are gentle giants....I have seen more variety in this breed than any other...

Limosiuns......ok, spelling is bad, but motto for the breed should be Limo butts drive me nuts ;-}.... Yeild and muscling....you can get some more marbling, but not at the expense of the above.

I just threw some examples out of what I am talking about. I think breed organizations should define their identity and actually exclude some animals....That is the point of my post....if a breed organization is serious, I think they should sift the product and exclude some animals..

My bedtime,

nite all,

I agree wholeheartedly PPRM :D. The Canadian Hereford Association has an animal/breeder search function on their website. You can look at all of the birth/weaning/yearling weights/EPD's calves off of a particular bull/cow. You would be amazed at some of the crap that is registered in our association! Bulls being sold that weren't even 500 lbs weaning....Heifers that weren't even 300 lbs weaning. Calves that are over 110 lbs at birth....the list of potential problems goes on an on. Being that I cull hard on all aspects from my herd, I usually only have one to two heifers and occasionally a bull that stays around, the rest are sold as stockers. But some breeders just take the poorer end of the females, feed them a little better and throw them into the commercial herd to be bred by a bull of another breed, in an attempt to cover up any mistakes that would show up in a purebred calf! I honestly don't think a lot of purebred producers could hack it if they were forced to only keep 5-10% of their entire calf crop for breeding purposes, but that is what should be done! :)
Whats wrong with turning a purebred cow into a commercial cow-it's better than selling her to another purebred breeder like most do. A bulls performance is only relevant compared to his contemporaries-for examole a May born bull calf weaned in October weighing 450 lbs might in fact be genetically superior to a 7 or 8 weight creep fed behemouth. It's his in herd ratio that is more relevant not his actuall weaning weight. One of the 'BIGGEST' problems with the E.P.D. system is inaccurate contemporary groups and lying about birth weights-YES LYING-I get wayyyyyyy to many bull sale catalogues where every bull weighs between 82 and 87 pounds or something similar. Back to the purebred cow gong commercial-I toured Oschner herefords in Torrington, Wyoming years ago and thats what they did-they had a very good set of purebred cows much better than the home of the Denver champ that I checked out on the same trip.
Arron, nothing against the way you run your ranch but if you only keep 5 to 10% of your calfcrop as replacements or bulls you are doing something wrong. Sorry but that isn't nearly enough. You need to pay the bills too.

We keep around 60% of our bulls and heifers, and we cull pretty darn hard on our cows and calves both. We sell about 4-5% of our bulls to registered breeders every year, then we get to our commercial customers to use the rest. Their cows are just as good or better than the majority of the commercial herds out there.
Aaron.....the guys are right,if you're only able to retain 5-10% for replacements you're either way over leveraged or you'd better renovate your breeding program!
I was always intriqued by the ads the Oschners ran, but I have never seen their cattle.

And I agree on the-gosh, I hate to say lying-that goes on in order to manipulate the epd's, but I am afraid it does.

I saw with my own eyes, bull calves on Holstein nurse cows that belonged to a premier breeder in Montana. Now how do you think that effects a WW EPD?

Ya gotta buy from people you TRUST.

And some of the best advice that was given to us years ago and we NEVER forgot; the real good cow man that got us started in this business, said, "don't go to a breeder of a mediocre bunch of cattle and buy the top bull, go to a good breeder and buy out of the middle." That was 40 years ago and I still think that is good advice.

And a good breeder means to me, someone that has consistently raised the same kind of cattle. Not had huge cattle and then for some reason started to down-size, while still selling the bulls; or vice-versa. It is alright if you do that, just don't market your experiment. Wait til you know what you have and you have some consistency again. That's what I want to buy for my cows.
I saw with my own eyes, bull calves on Holstein nurse cows that belonged to a premier breeder in Montana. Now how do you think that effects a WW EPD?

ET calves are not ratioed in a contemporary group in my breed association.

EPD's are calculated by contemporary groups. A stand alone ET calf sucking a Holstein cow would not change the calf's (or any relatives) WW EPD's one IOTA. When someone turns in an incorrect weaning weight on a calf he is only fooling himself for a very short period of time.

Most purebred breeders that I know understand this and do not fudge because the progeny of this calf will drop those EPD's like a rock, thus telling the true story. EPD's CANNOT be manipulated in the long term.

Problem is, when a commercial producer buys a young unproven bull, the EPD's may never change because of the lack of direct data to the breed Assoc. You might be sitting on a bull whose EPD's are terribly poor because all he was given is a "Pedigree Estimate" or low accuracy value. The potential change in EPD's are immense at a low accuracy.

EPD's in moderation is a common phrase heard now, but in order to gain a particular trait faster you have to pick high EPD's for the trait you are seeking to attain.
nr, I guess I didn't explain my purebred/commercial statement right. I meant to say that if a breeder is raising 300lb heifer calves at a 205 day weaning weight, those calves should be gone as stockers, not to become cows, purebred or grade. I have sat in the mart watching my calves go through, and been asked by another producer if he should buy my heifer calves for replacements (He didn't know they were mine). They were good-looking calves, but they just didn't weigh up. I told him they were mine, they were culls, not to buy them as replacements, and said it loud enough for surrounding people to hear me. They eventually sold to a neighbour that fed them out and did quite well with them as feeder yearlings. There are many cattle that I would never want to see in purebred or commercial herds.

Also, I think 5-10% for a cut-off on breeding cattle is about right. It seems that very few breeders have values in place for what is the minimum weights they want....basing their decision more on if an animal 'looks good the way it is and will work out if I feed it well.' I want good looks and weight and a host of other things to come into play if I am going to keep calves as breeding replacements for sale. My minimums are 500lb for heifers and 600 lbs for bulls based on 205 day weights. That weight minimum can usually eliminate 40-60 % of the calves right off the bat.
My original point had to do with Breed Identity. I think we are at a point where each Association needs to say, "This is our Identity." Too much marketing and not enough substance. The breeders need to be held accountable......I guess in effect, I think there should be more to being registered than the Parents both were.....

PPRM said:
My original point had to do with Breed Identity. I think we are at a point where each Association needs to say, "This is our Identity." Too much marketing and not enough substance. The breeders need to be held accountable......I guess in effect, I think there should be more to being registered than the Parents both were.....

I believe the poor cattle will weed themselves out along with the poor breeders before long.

The cattle business has gone backwards in the past couple of years as is evident by the percentage of Choice carcasses declining from 57% to 52%. A change is coming.
Aaron said:
Also, I think 5-10% for a cut-off on breeding cattle is about right.

The only problem with that small of a percentage for "breeding cattle" is that the nation's cowherd would not even be able to maintain their status quo, as far as keeping the numbers the same. If only 5-10% were held back for breeding, half would be heifers and half would be bulls. If even your greater figure of 10% were held back, 5% would be heifers and 5% bulls. On the 5% heifers, they would be two years old before they had their first calf. They would need to live to the age of 22 years, and never come up open, for the total herd number to stay the same.

In our own case, I feel that for a cow herd to maintain its constant number, year in and year out, about thirty percent of the heifers should be retained. In a cow herd of a thousand head, one hundred and fifty heifers should be kept back every year. (150 would be 30% of the 500 heifer calves out of a thousand pairs.) Some yearling heifers usually come up open, and there are always some that don't turn out quality wise. Every year, there are open cows, and probably by twelve years of age, the "goody" is pretty much out of them, and they need to be replaced. Age ten might be a more realistic number.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts.
I wish you well Aron but selecting for your growthiest heifers might end you up with a herd that is very growthy but not as fertile as you'd like-the angus bull GT Maximimum comes to mind. I was a weighman for ROP for several years and the real good commercial herds had weaning indexes from 90-110. If 60% of your heifers are wiped out right off the bat your gonna breed yourself out of cows pretty quick-just curious how big a herd are you running.The best time to cull a heifer is pregtest time after she's weaned her first calf-up till then it's a bit of a crapshoot.
Soapweed and NR, I agree with your comments. We seem to need to keep 30% or more of our heifers to keep our numbers relatively constant.

Sometimes the heifers that don't look the best as calves wind up being really good cows. We try to not pick the big, horsey type heifer. It is my feeling that the longer you can wait to select your replacement heifers, the better. The day I hate the most is the day we select our replacements.

We have had good advice in the past to take out the top 10%, take out the bottom 10% and breed the rest. Seems to work, although we can't always do that. Another problem I have not reconciled yet is that many times your biggest heifers are the earliest ones. Would not that mean they are out of your most fertile cows? As I say, I have a problem throwing away the top 10%, unless they are a type we don't wish to keep. So what we have done is try to look at each individual heifer. Doesn't matter what she weighs, we just try to eyeball her and get the traits we are looking for. Disposition is a biggie with us. I don't care what the numbers are or the EPD's, if she has a bad attitude, she doesn't stay.
From a business point,

If you keep asn animal for breeding for more than two years, she is taxed as Capital gains rate... I have bought bred cows in past and sold cow and calf, Might start keeping cow for another breeding.... Part of myu success is I can take late bred cows and give them better feed and minerals than surrounding area and get a few more years out of them,

I look at those late cows a little different. Here is a little article I wrote for our newsletter.

What to Cull?
Everyone knows that when a cow can't raise a calf or doesn't breed back, she needs to go. But what people don't realize is that the biggest thieves in the cattle industry are the cows that calve in the fourth, third, and even second cycle. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this you will understand my thinking. Say all your calves are gaining 2.5 lbs a day on the cow and you wean your calves at the peak of the fall run. The first cycle calves are born at an average weight of 80 lbs and wean off at 600 lbs at 205 days old. Usually the second and third cycle calves are also being weaned at the same time. These calves are at a minimum 21 days younger and will be gaining about the same. So now we have a 184 day old calf gaining 2.5 lbs a day. With an 80 lb birth weight these guys will be 60 lbs lighter than the first bunch, and the third cycle calves will be 163 days old and 112.5 lbs lighter. This converts into a ton of money that we are all losing just because our fertility isn't up to where it should be.

Having better fertility will also help you capture some other benefits such as uniformity. If most calves are born early in the season they should come in at about the same size making them more uniform in weight, which means you'll have more animals to sell in that pen. This almost always translates into a better selling price.
I have been looking at alot of old data on breeds lately and ran across some data from MARC that was devolped in the 70's. It comparied different breeds and the crosses of those breeds. There was one breed that did almost everything well, it was the Shorthorns. I have since been looking for some good Shorthorns that will do what those old ones did and i can't find them.

So if anyone knows of some good maternal good carcass Shorthorns let me know. Thanks
The one biggest mistake I see in the purebred business is that breeders tend to keep what should be a cull because this animal is from a "Big Name" sire.

The calves from the more popular bulls sometimes tend to bring more money. After all, we are in this for the money. :???:
BRG that is a somewhat valid argument for a cow/calf guy who loads and dumps every fall but the gap between the early and late calvers narrows by spring if backgrounded-even more if calves are grassed-and virtually disappears by the time the cattle are finished. A 40 day calving season has been the darling of extension agents for quite sometime-is it the holy grail for someone retaining ownership-I wonder.
Northern Rancher, that may be true to some extent. But we didn't even figure in the extra labor it takes you to calve out those 3rd and 4th cycle calvers. You could be farming, fencing, just trying to catch up, or even take a vactation, instead of still calving. I think we would be way ahead of the game.
BRG the late calvers take the same amount of labor the early ones do-NONE. Once our cows hit the bush they're pretty much on their own-in the open ground they get checked once a day -more to keep up with the tagging. I confess I do keep more heifers out of the early calvers but for a totally grass outfit a 40 day breedsing season would of wiped us out in the drought years. If you are pen breeding before grass season you probably should tighten it up some for sure. I see you are in northwest south dakota-whats your closest town to you.