The tough thing for me is that every marketing approach seems to wind up pretty much at “we’re great and everyone else is mediocre at best.” Well, that just isn’t the way it is. Missouri is full of good cow herds with hard-working owners doing their best to raise quality cattle. A good percentage of those owners are personal friends of mine. That said, each of us approaches breeding cattle with a different emphasis and different methods to get the job done. So, what is different about our way that might make you want to come here for genetics?
First, our focus will always be maternal. This is not to say we are willing to fall behind other herds for performance traits, it is simply that time has taught us that this is the best way to reach our breeding goals. The “progress” you make using an elite AI sire stays in your herd only as long as his daughters do! No matter how impressive a bull’s yearling calves are, if you have to cull through his daughters for the basics (fertility, disposition, fertility, udders, fertility, feet, fertility), all that “progress” can drain right out of your herd through the local sale barn. The bull whose calves were “above average” but whose daughters do stay in the herd often winds up improving the herd much more in the long term.
I guess what I’m getting at is that we believe in a complete performance program, one that includes just about every trait your cattle need to be successful. Shrinking your evaluation program to concentrate specifically on growth and carcass will allow extremely rapid progress in those areas, and very high $B indexes. Turning generations quickly will seem to accelerate that progress even more. However, these management strategies are not likely to produce a cow that excels for efficiency, fertility and longevity, and those traits deserve at least equal consideration. Although somewhat lower in heritability, their economic impact to the cow-calf producer is even greater than the terminal traits. They cannot be left out of a conscientious breeding program. The “short cut” is just too likely to turn into a “dead end” that makes you turn around and go backwards to get back on the right path. Slow and steady wins the race would be the appropriate cliché I suppose.
If your breed is in the doldrums, selection pressure that is meant to achieve the greatest amount of genetic progress in the least amount of time sounds great! If your breed is thriving, selection pressure that is meant to achieve the greatest amount of genetic change in the least amount of time sounds irresponsible. It is time to take a close look at whether the change we are making is progress — for all sectors of the cattle industry. Let’s be honest: Being human, we are about as likely to mess these cattle up as to improve them. Modern technology means we can do both really fast! Performance testing works ….. unless you narrow the focus and fail to include vital economic traits. Don’t undervalue the maternal side of selection!
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