1) Identify Herd Goals: Herd goals serve as the foundation for sire selection and provide guidance as to traits with the most relevance. Defining the production and marketing system, along with management strategies and environment, are key factors that warrant consideration: Will the bull be used on heifers, mature cows, or both?
Will replacement females be retained in the herd? How will the calf crop be marketed? What are the labor and management resources available? What are the feed resources and environmental conditions of the operation?
2) Assess Herd Strengths and Weaknesses: Fundamental records are necessary to identify herd strengths and weaknesses. Basic performance parameters such as calving percentage, weaning percentage, weaning weights, sale weights, carcass merit, feed usage, etc. are necessary to serve as the basis for assessing areas of strength and those needing attention.
3) Establish Selection Priorities: Concentrate on those factors which stand to have the largest impact on profitability. Remember that income is derived from performance (sale weight, percent of calf crop weaned, carcass merit, etc., Performance is a function of both genetics and environment/management. Superior genetics can be negated by poor management, which emphasizes the importance of separating the impact of management (nutrition, health program) from that of genetics when specific priorities for the herd are established. Considering both the genetic and management influences on various traits is important. Focus on the handful of priority traits rather than attempting to change many traits simultaneously. Establishing the few traits to focus on is the key factor.