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Goals for Genetic Improvement

nolz.jpg At our operation, it's that time of year to start breeding replacement heifers. This means selecting compatible A.I. sires to complement the females' genetic traits. In an economy where every cent counts, many producers are working to keep input costs down. Don't let this interfere with strong management decisions, especially breeding superior genetics into your cowherd. I believe both purebred and commercial cattlemen can profitably utilize quality bloodlines to increase their bottom line and reach their goals for genetic improvement. Producers should ask themselves what traits they aim to improve with their sire choices. Of course, high performance, calving ease, milking ability, etc. are all traits to keep in mind. However, producers should also remember the end product in their breeding decisions. Look for sires with strong carcass traits and high efficiency numbers. Choosing a bloodline, whether through an A.I. sire or a breeding bull, is a huge decision that will have a big impact on your operation. I found an article by Oklahoma State University's Extension Service that provides helful hints for best management practices during breeding season. What traits are you looking for in a bloodline? What are you selecting for this year?

Many producers of purebred and commercial beef cattle can profitably utilize artificial insemination (AI) on virgin heifers or on the cowherd or both. Success with artificial insemination requires attention to detail in all areas of herd management. One of the most important factors affecting the success of the program is the manager’s attitude. He or she must totally desire to make AI work and instill this commitment into each link in the chain of management decision. The weakest link sets the level of success of the operation.

To read the entire article on artificial insemination, link to OSU Extension Extra.

Quick BEEF Daily Fact: Artificial insemination has been around since 1939, for over 65 years. However, less than five percent of the nation's beef cows are bred AI, with the majority of these breedings taking place in the seedstock and the club (show) calf sectors. As a point of comparison, about 66 percent of the nation's dairy cows are bred AI, and the use of AI by commercial swine producers is currently 70-75 percent. At one time, AI was considerably more expensive than natural service. This is no longer the case in today's beef industry and market. (To read more about the benefits of artificial insemination, link to Cattle Today.)