Herd Sire Selection

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Source: University of Arkansas

Improvement of the next generation calf crop is dependent upon the breeding decisions you make. Herd sire selection should be a thought-provoking and profit-driven decision process.

Males account for approximately 90% of the gene pool, contributing more to the genetic makeup of a herd in one breeding season than a cow contributes in her lifetime.

Selecting genetically superior sires is the fastest approach to herd improvement and ultimately bottom line profitability.

Not every bull will fit your production scenario. Resources and goals are different for each cow-calf operation. Nonetheless, sire selection should target an acceptable combination of traits that complement the strengths and weaknesses of the cow herd and match markets. Ask questions that pertain to your particular production situation. What are your target markets? Are you selling all calves at weaning? If so, what color does that market value the most? Are you planning to background your calves and send them through the feedlot? Are you going to retain any replacement heifers? Are you breeding both heifers and cows? What are your available labor and forage resources? Answers to these questions will aid you in determining the selection efforts you may want to apply towards economically important traits such as growth, carcass traits and possible maternal performance. Base the type of sire selected on the purpose of your breeding plan.

Sire summaries are published by breed associations to provide current genetic evaluations on progeny-proven sires. While the sire summary formats may vary among breeds, they all are designed to use the best linear unbiased prediction procedures to produce expected progeny differences (EPDs) for all cattle that have legitimate performance records. Across-breed (AB) adjustment factors have been calculated for growth traits and maternal milk since 1993. Adjustment factors for carcass traits have been calculated since 2009; to be included, breeds must have carcass data in the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) database and report their carcass EPDs on an actual carcass basis using an age-adjusted endpoint.

Bulls of different breeds can be compared on the same EPD scale by adding the appropriate adjustment factor to the EPDs produced in the most recent genetic evaluations for each of the 18 breeds.

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