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4 important genetic principles you should remember

Forty years of observation and participation tells me the price for genetic miscalculations is slow extinction.

You can find about any advice you want these days about cattle genetics but I believe there are four important genetic principles which override just about everything.

First, I should preface my comments by saying “profitable longevity” is a cow’s number one most important trait. That means she should produce 10 or more weaned calves over consecutive years, all which make money on a per-acre basis after figuring all expenses.

My first important genetic principle is that traits tend to move toward average and are much more predictable as the parents move closer to likeness. Looking at the opposite, when we breed cattle of highly different genetic origin, the result is offspring characterized by huge amounts of variation, especially in the second and third generations.

The F1 cross normally gives us the biggest production boost and is generally the most predictable. An example is to consider the average Holstein cow bred to a Jersey bull. The F1 heifer that results is normally quite smaller in stature than its Holstein dam but milks in high volume like a Holstein while yielding high butterfat and milk quality like its Jersey ancestors.

To read more about genetic improvement in beef cattle, click here.


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