Archive for Dairy Cattle Breeding Recommendations

Why Breeding Recommendations are like Butts

It’s all depends on the genes.  Still determining what sire to mate your cattle to can be very challenging.  Your local A.I. representative will probably tell you to mate the cow to their highest ranked sire or whatever bull seems to be the flavor of the month.  Your neighbor will tell you to mate your cow to whatever sire worked well in their herd. In addition, the local feed salesmen or cattle dealer are no different they all have an opinion.  So what is a breeder supposed to do?

Do you mate for production, do you mate for index or maybe it’s the next great show calf?  No matter what your goals are, you need to have  clear ones.   Due to heritability of traits, t can take many generations to improve certain traits significantly.    That’s why you can often infuse production into a pedigree in 1 or 2 generations, but it can take 3-6 generations to have a significant effect on calving ease, feet and legs and other less heritable traits.

You will often find that the A.I. studs will contract top cattle to the extreme sires, leaving the breeders with the risk of getting the duds.  That’s not because they want to screw up your breeding programs.  It’s because they are looking for the extremes.  They are typically working with the donor population that has proven to excel in both type and production, and are looking to produce that extreme sire.  They are willing to sample 2-3 sons out of cow to get that one that hits the mark.  For their profitability and breeding program that is a measured risk that they are willing to accept.

On  the other hand, as the cattle breeder who wants to gain maximum genetic gain as well as marketability can you afford to use these extreme cases?  The answer is most likely,  “No!” From a genetic standpoint by having, “dud” females hit your donor’s proof you end up hurting her index.   From a marketing standpoint having “less than attractive” daughters of your top cattle can be a sales killer.

This  is why you always need to protect the matings on your top donors.  While it would be worthwhile to do one or two matings for the extremes to produce the next generation of bull dams or donor cattle you really need to mate to the balanced approach as well.

With that in mind, we have prepared balanced mating recommendations for 50 of the top in demand sires in the world.

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