“BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND”
In an environment of such great genetic diversity (within breeds–let alone across multiple breeds), one of the greatest decision points in any cow-calf operation rests in deciding which genetics to use. Genetic trends ebb and flow, popular sires rise from and soon return to oblivion. In making genetic selections, we “BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.” Setting our objective on the production of maternal, pasture-efficient animals, our starting point is identifying sires with proven maternal pedigrees (from dams that keep and maintain a tight calving window), low to moderate energy demands (as well as frame size). We believe that a foundation of fertile, efficient females with the longevity to support sustained years within a herd, provides anyone an effective base from which to build and out-cross with additional sires for whatever personal performance another’s program may seek: high-growth terminals, or one’s own home-developed heifers.
Why we use Artificial Insemination (AI):
Proven AI sires afford us the opportunity to utilize bulls with sometimes up to several thousand progeny records to affirm a high level of accuracy and consistency in the type of animals we can expect to produce. We utilize AI sires on select females to propagate desired traits from bulls proven to add these traits and performance to our program’s gene pool.
Why we use purchased natural service bulls:
As a program, we believe strongly in the merit of crossbreeding and heterosis. When seeking multi-breed percentage composites, we have had strong success with utilizing composite bulls already possessing desired British to Continental breed make-ups. We value the ability to reference Simmental and Gelbvieh herd data bases to study maternal histories of bulls before purchase, being able to find data on calving intervals, weight and frame sizes through different maturing growth points, and in utilizing breed database resources, observing animals first-hand, and learning about the programs from which our purchased animals come, we feel that our program benefits from integrating composite genetics from regionally developed cattle proven to perform in systems similar to ours.
Why we use retained home-developed bulls:
Another benefit to AI is the ability to create enough varied genetic bloodlines to permit retaining home-developed bulls while still maintaining clean bloodlines. In retaining home-raised bulls, we are able to evaluate future sires (and their dams) for further traits difficult to capture in EPDs such as the ability to slick off excess hair for summer heat, or Pinkeye resistance in tall-fescue pastures (we don’t retain genetics that express greater attention an care than their herdmates). There are few better ways to know the true maternal value of a dam than by witnessing her work first-hand, year after year. The bulls we retain come from proven cows (or heifers from long-proven dams), and are observed, evaluated, and grown out only after distinguishing themselves from the rest of their peers. We do not retain any bull we do not intend to use ourselves.
Also, in developing our own bulls, we do not push them supplemental feeds to advance their maturity artificially (sometimes at the cost of longevity and soundness). Same as our females, our bulls develop naturally, in accordance with the resources of our pastures, and their natural development expresses itself as they continue to grow on nature’s timeline, and you do not see pronounced loss in body condition as happens by animals artificially grown and then expected to perform in a natural pasture environment.