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Pondering genetic programs, EPD's and how to balance them

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BlackCattleRancher

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Really been studying up on some of the more popular genetic programs in the Angus breed, and it seems everything is oriented towards calving ease with lots of growth, with a low BW, high CED then big numbers on WW and YW. Obviously the high WW demands a lot of milk and usually the dam's milk is 25+ and consequently and negative $EN, which is supposed to mean a cow that requires extra groceries to keep going. Now if I look at a program like Ohlde, the WW and Milk EPD's moderate significantly and the $EN is positive. Those theoretically should be easy keepers and I am sacraficing some growth and extra weaning weight for a cow that is an easier keeper and should get bred back a little easier on less energy. Seems simple if I'm going to sell everything as calves, but I have been finishing out my calves and realize the signicant premiums for CAB and High Choice and Prime carcass grades. Now I go back to these programs where I can find a lower maintenance cow and their REA and Marbling epd's are pretty lacking. In a bull I'm going to use AI i'd like to have at least a .75 Marbling and at least a .5 REA minimum for both, preferably higher on the marbling. I guess the point I'm trying to make is it seems the higher growth genetics have been geared towards better carcass epd's than the "efficient cow" programs. It seems in an effort to make the cow herd low maintenance these programs have forgot the end product. Any thoughts or ideas on programs or an approach to my dilema. Would enjoy some good discussion on this.
 

cleland

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Grain and supplementation have a very close relationship with carcass quality and growth.... Cattle that are low maintenance and do not get the feed put into them do not grow or grade as well as a result. If a person would take ohlde type cattle and push them with feed, I would guess you could get more performance and carcass merit.
 

BlackCattleRancher

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cleland said:
Grain and supplementation have a very close relationship with carcass quality and growth.... Cattle that are low maintenance and do not get the feed put into them do not grow or grade as well as a result. If a person would take ohlde type cattle and push them with feed, I would guess you could get more performance and carcass merit.

cleland, I partially agree with you, but the ribeye size and muscle marbling is highly heritable and I've seen it in my own cows and talk to others who also see that certain cow families have a tendancy to more consistently hit high choice and prme grades, it seems on the genetics that do not have it that the extra feeding required to hit better carcass grades also reduces your yield grade which can be a pretty big hit on 4's and 5's, pretty much eliminating your quality grade added value.
 

gcreekrch

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I prefer the K.I.S.S. method of raising cattle. There are a lot more things that concern me than whether or not a calf from our program will grade or not.
We pick sires with the type that fits our operation, have acceptable BW's, and some performance in real numbers. Our experience without the knowledge of EPD's is that the bigger,high performance bulls leave progeny that take more feed to produce a calf.
Our aim is to produce females that will live in our environment on what we are prepared to feed them in order to breed and wean a calf. The steer end can look after itself.
Apparently the steers are doing fine as repeat buyers are requesting them again and again.

In my narrow little mind, :D I still have a mental block as to where an AI program for commercial producers really pays. A $4000 bull that is used on 25 females for 4 years with a yearly upkeep of $500 and a salvage value of $1400 costs $46 per cow.

$25 semen with a 60% success is $37.50. Add in the heat inducement or time spent for detection and time breeding it would be very close.

On average, are the buyers for feeder cattle paying more for AI progeny than run of the mill naturally bred cattle?

It would be interesting to see a comparison between the two production methods on a country-wide survey from conception to plate. :wink:
 

Denny

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AI costs me near $50 a head and if your lucky you get 70% bred that leaves 30% calveing 21 days later what are those lost pounds worth. If I were a commercial man and used AI it would be on heifers to calve early and cow's on natural heats prior to bull turn out day and the whole reason would be to retain some bulls for in herd use.From our test weights this year our herd bull sired calves are out gaining the AI'ed sired calves.Of course we don't have very many AI bulls this year.
 

leanin' H

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From my limited understanding, marbling and REA are about 40% hereitable which is quite high. So you can feed the heck out of one calf and he still won't gain or grade like you'd want compared to the calf next to him simply because he does not have the same genetic potential. But under feeding the genetically superior calf will get you the same results. The EPD question that started this conversation is the reason some folks get frustrated with them. Great carcass numbers usually means sacrificing somewhere else. The old middle of the road works pretty good for lots of folks. My opinion is breed for great heifers and the steers will take care of themselves. But they have to have the correct nutrition and you have to measure to know where you need to improve in both genetic potential and nutrition.

As far as AI goes for commercial guys, i agree it does cost more in cash and time. And when you have deadlines for turning out on a grazing allotment it makes you either breed earlier or use a bull. But i can buy better genetics in a straw i wouldn't otherwise have access to trying to buy the whole bull. Which means i can improve my cowherd (Through retaining AI bred heifers) quicker. I might also raise my own bull out of an AI mating if i was so inclined. I will agree folks have screwed up their herd just as quick as others have improved theirs. :wink:
 

gcreekrch

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leanin' H said:
From my limited understanding, marbling and REA are about 40% hereitable which is quite high. So you can feed the heck out of one calf and he still won't gain or grade like you'd want compared to the calf next to him simply because he does not have the same genetic potential. But under feeding the genetically superior calf will get you the same results. The EPD question that started this conversation is the reason some folks get frustrated with them. Great carcass numbers usually means sacrificing somewhere else. The old middle of the road works pretty good for lots of folks. My opinion is breed for great heifers and the steers will take care of themselves. But they have to have the correct nutrition and you have to measure to know where you need to improve in both genetic potential and nutrition.

As far as AI goes for commercial guys, i agree it does cost more in cash and time. And when you have deadlines for turning out on a grazing allotment it makes you either breed earlier or use a bull. But i can buy better genetics in a straw i wouldn't otherwise have access to trying to buy the whole bull. Which means i can improve my cowherd (Through retaining AI bred heifers) quicker. I might also raise my own bull out of an AI mating if i was so inclined. I will agree folks have screwed up their herd just as quick as others have improved theirs. :wink:

For discussion sake..... (Let the record show that I've seen H's bull and think he is a good type commercial sire. :D )

Can you really buy better genetics for your ranch in a straw? Is the AI sire originated from a similar area?
Comparisons by some that put AI calves that they can "afford" beside calves from a "[email protected] bull that they can (shouldn't have) "afford" are not really apples to apples.

As has also been said here, purebred breeders who do not use their own genetics more than those brought in will never produce consistancy and show to me that they have little confidence in their own program.
 

RSL

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At the risk of blasphemy...
Why not take a high fat, high $EN, moderate performance AN cow and cross her with something else and sell the calves? Use a Black SM or Black LM or worst case use one of those really high number AN bulls, and make sure you don't keep heifers.
Other than managing different breeding groups you kind of get the best of both worlds and you get hybrid vigour in your calves. They are still 50%+ black hided and should hit most grids. You probably have to be a bit careful about marbling and maybe CE in the crossing breed, but you will gain a ton of performance and yield.
The straight AN calves from the replacement program are great for going to grass?
 

RSL

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At the risk of blasphemy...
Why not take a high fat, high $EN, moderate performance AN cow and cross her with something else and sell the calves? Use a Black SM or Black LM or worst case use one of those really high number AN bulls, and make sure you don't keep heifers.
Other than managing different breeding groups you kind of get the best of both worlds and you get hybrid vigour in your calves. They are still 50%+ black hided and should hit most grids. You probably have to be a bit careful about marbling and maybe CE in the crossing breed, but you will gain a ton of performance and yield.
The straight AN calves from the replacement program are great for going to grass?
 

WyomingRancher

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gcreekrch said:
I prefer the K.I.S.S. method of raising cattle. There are a lot more things that concern me than whether or not a calf from our program will grade or not.
We pick sires with the type that fits our operation, have acceptable BW's, and some performance in real numbers. Our experience without the knowledge of EPD's is that the bigger,high performance bulls leave progeny that take more feed to produce a calf.
Our aim is to produce females that will live in our environment on what we are prepared to feed them in order to breed and wean a calf. The steer end can look after itself.
Apparently the steers are doing fine as repeat buyers are requesting them again and again.

In my narrow little mind, :D I still have a mental block as to where an AI program for commercial producers really pays. A $4000 bull that is used on 25 females for 4 years with a yearly upkeep of $500 and a salvage value of $1400 costs $46 per cow.

$25 semen with a 60% success is $37.50. Add in the heat inducement or time spent for detection and time breeding it would be very close.

On average, are the buyers for feeder cattle paying more for AI progeny than run of the mill naturally bred cattle?

It would be interesting to see a comparison between the two production methods on a country-wide survey from conception to plate. :wink:

:agree: :agree: :agree:
 

High Plains

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I think that it's an individual preference and matters greatly what a person has going on during breeding season. If you're not totally strapped for time and you like the idea of getting more calves early and using a proven bull on a bunch of females, then a person is probably going to be inclined to A.I. If you're short of labor, busy and/or don't like arming cows then you're probably a hard sell with A.I. Obvious challenges with grazing on government ground and other similar challenges would hamper some folks. With the price of bulls today it looks to me like A.I. makes more and more sense.

Of course, for heifers, getting them synchronized and calving in a shorter, earlier period seems advantageous if a person is set up to do it.

I'm such a fan of genetics that I enjoy using A.I. and I have seen the quality of the replacement heifers improved greatly with A.I. over natural-sired calves. However, often the natural-sired calves will often out-perform the A.I. calves in terms of growth. But the natural sires are pretty stout and not quite the maternally oriented kind that we use in A.I. The A.I. bulls being a little more maternal in their traits and not quite as gung-ho on the growth and muscle side of things.
 

PATB

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BlackCattleRancher said:
Really been studying up on some of the more popular genetic programs in the Angus breed, and it seems everything is oriented towards calving ease with lots of growth, with a low BW, high CED then big numbers on WW and YW. Obviously the high WW demands a lot of milk and usually the dam's milk is 25+ and consequently and negative $EN, which is supposed to mean a cow that requires extra groceries to keep going. Now if I look at a program like Ohlde, the WW and Milk EPD's moderate significantly and the $EN is positive. Those theoretically should be easy keepers and I am sacraficing some growth and extra weaning weight for a cow that is an easier keeper and should get bred back a little easier on less energy. Seems simple if I'm going to sell everything as calves, but I have been finishing out my calves and realize the signicant premiums for CAB and High Choice and Prime carcass grades. Now I go back to these programs where I can find a lower maintenance cow and their REA and Marbling epd's are pretty lacking. In a bull I'm going to use AI i'd like to have at least a .75 Marbling and at least a .5 REA minimum for both, preferably higher on the marbling. I guess the point I'm trying to make is it seems the higher growth genetics have been geared towards better carcass epd's than the "efficient cow" programs. It seems in an effort to make the cow herd low maintenance these programs have forgot the end product. Any thoughts or ideas on programs or an approach to my dilema. Would enjoy some good discussion on this.

If you are looking for high marbleing use waygu. I will take a balance of traits and productive cows over carcass trait selected animals with little regard for fertility and other maternal traits. Use functional cows and breed them to the high growth high carcass trait bulls and keep no replacements. AI is a tool to be used and is only as good as the person selecting the bulls to use.
 

BlackCattleRancher

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High Plains said:
With the price of bulls today it looks to me like A.I. makes more and more sense.

Agree 100% with a lot of the bull sales averaging $5k+, a $20 straw is pretty cheap for the genetics you get in it
 

High Plains

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PATB said:
If you are looking for high marbleing use waygu.

Heh, heh. A bit short-sighted, there. There are thousands of high-marbling cattle out there that have not been single-trait selected for marbling nor are they Wagyu, nor do they look like a Holstein. A guy can practice balanced-trait selection and get it done. I can show you tremendous carcass data on cattle that haven't even been selected for carcass traits as a primary concern.

Not fighin' ya. Just saying. :D
 
A

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High Plains said:
PATB said:
If you are looking for high marbleing use waygu.

Heh, heh. A bit short-sighted, there. There are thousands of high-marbling cattle out there that have not been single-trait selected for marbling nor are they Wagyu, nor do they look like a Holstein. A guy can practice balanced-trait selection and get it done. I can show you tremendous carcass data on cattle that haven't even been selected for carcass traits as a primary concern.

Not fighin' ya. Just saying. :D

I just talked to a local fella the other day that is breeding all his heifers to Wagyu bulls...Leasing the bulls from an outfit that guarantees calving ease with the Wagyu bulls - then picks the bulls back up- and next fall will pay him 40% above the going price for his calves....

He said with the price of heifer bulls this year it was worth a try...
 

leanin' H

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I totally agree with RSL about going with a terminal cross and not keeping heifers. That way you can "chase" the carcass, marbling, REA numbers you need for your feeder calves.

Gcreek has a good point as well. AI calves VS. buying a good bull bred calves will always be a mystery unless we track them and measure how they do. A solid cowherd with good bulls has produced lots of great calves for lots of producers. As has AI! How they compare to each other will only be known if a guy takes the time to look at the information collected. I guess i like to see the best of both worlds... AI some select cows and heifers and then cleanup and breed everything else with the best bull i can buy-afford-works for my program. If the buyers line up to buy my calves, i will know i am heading where i'd like to go. But i always try to improve the quality of my bunch in any way i can.
 

BlackCattleRancher

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leanin' H said:
I totally agree with RSL about going with a terminal cross and not keeping heifers. That way you can "chase" the carcass, marbling, REA numbers you need for your feeder calves.

So the proposal is to either buy replacements or run a second set of cows for my replacement heifers. Don't like either of those options, but my it is my only option. I want to proliferate my seedstock using data collected on their contemporaries going to slaughter.
 

Yanuck

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Oldtimer said:
High Plains said:
PATB said:
If you are looking for high marbleing use waygu.

Heh, heh. A bit short-sighted, there. There are thousands of high-marbling cattle out there that have not been single-trait selected for marbling nor are they Wagyu, nor do they look like a Holstein. A guy can practice balanced-trait selection and get it done. I can show you tremendous carcass data on cattle that haven't even been selected for carcass traits as a primary concern.

Not fighin' ya. Just saying. :D

I just talked to a local fella the other day that is breeding all his heifers to Wagyu bulls...Leasing the bulls from an outfit that guarantees calving ease with the Wagyu bulls - then picks the bulls back up- and next fall will pay him 40% above the going price for his calves....

He said with the price of heifer bulls this year it was worth a try...

he better hope that its a mild winter when he's calving them, my experince with Waygu is the calves like to die....for no reason at all.....
 

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