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March 7, 2016
Finding the perfect herd bull to buy can be time consuming, expensive, confusing and stressful; however, it is an important investment cow-calf producers must make. The decision to buy in an auction, through private treaty, in an online sale, or over the phone (depending on the distance away and if calving season allows you to be gone from home) can really add up and make selecting and purchasing a new herd sire a monumental task.
Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, offers five tips for making bull buying a little bit easier.
1. Know what your cows need to complement their genetic strengths and weaknesses
"Do you have records that indicate you need more milk, more growth, more muscling, more marbling, more docility? Then look for a bull that can help those areas," says Cole.
2. Have well-defined goals for the future of your herd
“Work on setting some goals. These can assist in the bull selection process," suggests Cole.
3. Conduct a herd evaluation with your market representative, veterinarian or Extension livestock specialist
"Be cautious as their thoughts may have some bias, but it is always good to get others opinions," says Cole.
4. Have a good understanding of expected progeny differences (EPDs)
"This does not come overnight. However, it is critical that buyers understand the terminology. Research shows EPDs are 7 to 9 times more effective at predicting growth rate and several other traits than the adjusted weights are," says Cole.
5. Know the breed’s percentile rank table to know how the bull stacks up for important traits
According to the article, “For most traits, the low numbers indicate faster growth, more milk, easier calving, more carcass marbling, etc. A percentile rank higher than 50 means the animal is in the lower one-half of the breed for that trait. Admittedly, there are instances where a below average percent rank is acceptable. Once again, make sure your cow records support that move.”
Are you hunting for a new herd sire (or several) this year? What are your top priorities when selecting a bull? Let us know in the comments section below. Plus, be sure to check out the 2016 BEEF Seedstock 100, which is a compilation of the top 100 outfits based on volume of sales.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.
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