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Selecting For Herd Bulls

Article-Selecting For Herd Bulls

at-the-auction520.jpg It's that time of year again. Your mailbox is overflowing with sale catalogs and private treaty mailers. Your inbox is working overtime to receive all the emails from friends with news about record bull sales. Your phone is ringing off the hook about the latest bull stud that will be featured in your A.I. catalog. And, you're in need of a new herd sire. With all of the choices out there, where do you even begin?

The last couple of weeks, I have been a fixture in the stands at cattle auctions, and it's been exciting to watch bull sales reach record-high averages. Although it makes buying your favorite bull a little more difficult, with the markets looking so postiive, now is the time to select and buy high-quality bulls.

With the advancement of technology, producers have more information now than ever before to consider when making a bull purchase. The wealth of information found in sale catalogs includes performance data, ultrasound information and EPD traits, and for many sales, genomic (DNA marker data) information, as well.

Genomics measure everything from residual feed intake, daily gain, tenderness, marbling, percentage Choice, yield grade, back fat, ribeye area, heifer pregnancy rates, stayability, calving ease, docility and breed-specific traits such as muscling. Genomics are similar to EPDs; however, the scores offer breed values that serve to rank and predict genetic differences among animals, while taking away environmental factors that can skew numbers.

Although this is fairly new technology, it's definitely a tool quickly growing in popularity. On our homepage, we have a new survey asking producers: Do you consider genomics when buying herd bulls?

A) Yes, genomics is the main consideration. B) Yes, but EPDs are still more important. C) No, I don’t consider genomics data. I only look at EPDs. D) No, I don’t consider any genetic information (EPDs, genomics data, ultrasound).

Take a minute to answer our new poll, and if you have any experiences or thoughts on this topic you would like to share, we would love to hear it. Leave your ideas in the comments section below. By the way, last spring, BEEF magazine editors conducted a readership survey on readers’ genetics practices. You might find some of the results enlightening. View the article here.

TAGS: Genetics