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Data Collection Tips #1

 

Birth Weight:

Take the weight of the calf within 24 hours of birth
Use a consistent weighing method and have the same person weigh calves

Use a scale or tape, do not guess weights

Report all weights on calves to avoid biased data

Calving Ease:

Record calving ease at the same time Birth Weights are collected
Use the scale provided on the BBU Reference codes form

No difficulty/No assistance
Minor difficulty/Some assistance
Major difficulty/Calf puller used
C-Section
Abnormal Presentation

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Performance Article Series: Purpose of Technology

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

In the past couple of decades technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in almost every industry. With new technology we have more access to more data faster than we ever have before. The cattle industry is no different and technology is rapidly increasing and helping producers to make even more informed decisions than they have ever been able to before. Many people think that the cattle industry is behind the times when it comes to technology, but this is far from the truth. First producers took and recorded weights on their cows and calves, then other measurement technologies came along such as, ultrasound carcass scanning and now even measurements of feed intake and efficiency. These measurements have all gone into the calculation of EPDs, and EPDs have advanced more with the advent of DNA testing. What is the purpose […]

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Performance Article Series: Purpose of the Seedstock Industry

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

Last month I wrote about breeding with a purpose, and I think that in order to breed with a purpose it is vital to understand the purpose of the Seedstock or Purebred industry. While it is nice to sell bulls for $20,000 and females for $10,000, the purpose of the Seedstock industry is not that, it is to produce cattle that will help the commercial producer become more profitable in what they do. Whether it is a small producer that just sells calves by the pound at the local auction barn or a large producer that sells pot loads of steers or even retains ownership of the cattle. Seedstock producers need to know their target audience and produce a product that will help the bottom line of their commercial customers.

A Seedstock producer needs to be in touch with the commercial […]

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Performance Article Series: Breeding with Purpose

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

It’s the front end of 2019 and by now most people have either stuck with their New Year’s Resolution or it was abandoned by the second week in January. I didn’t make a resolution this year, instead I was encouraged to come up with a word for the year. I decided that the word I would use is “purpose”. Purpose is a word that makes you stop and think about why you are doing what you are doing. Whenever I do something, I ask myself why and find the reason for that activity, granted some activities have the sole purpose of just allowing me to relax. I think that purpose is something you need to have when breeding cattle, from a broad sense, all the way down to making breeding decisions. I feel that my purpose for this breed is […]

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Performance Article Series: Part 7 Using EPDs

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

As discussed in the previous article EPDs are Expected Progeny Differences, and the calculation of EPDs was discussed. In order to effectively use EPDs as a tool you must understand how to use them correctly, you wouldn’t use a screw driver instead of a hammer to put in a nail. EPDs are to be used as a tool to compare animals to each other or to compare against an average. EPDs are an estimate, based on pedigree and performance, of how an animal’s progeny should perform on average when compared to the progeny of another animal or against a breed average. They offer a quick and efficient way to compare how an animal’s progeny should perform because of genetics. They are not the only tool that you need to use in cattle evaluation, but they […]

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Performance Article Series: Part 6 EPDs

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

The past articles in this series have all been leading up to this, a basic overview of Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs): what they are and how they are calculated. EPDs are designed to be used to show differences in the genetic potential of an animal when compared to another animal or to an average. EPD calculations take into account an animal’s individual performance, the performance of related animals and the estimated relatedness of animals. The environment is factored out of an EPD because of the manner in which they are calculated. The calculation of EPDs is based on C.R. Henderson’s Mixed Model Equations, which utilize a method called Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP). The key word in BLUP is unbiased, an EPD is an unbiased prediction based on the information that is used in the genetic evaluation.

The first part of […]

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Performance Article Series: Part 5 Contemporary Groups

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

Starting with this article I will discuss the other factors that go into the calculation of EPDs, other than the measured traits that have been mentioned previously. These factors are what allow us to take out environment and estimate relatedness, in order to calculate EPDs. The first factor that I will discuss is contemporary groups, and basically a contemporary group are animals of approximately the same age and sex that have been managed the same. By properly forming contemporary groups the environmental effects can be taken out in the calculation of EPDs. In the calculation of EPDs the difference of the measured trait against contemporaries is what is important. For example, if there is a 50 pound difference between weaning weights of two animals it does not matter if the weights are 550 pounds and 600 pounds, or 750 […]

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Performance Article Series: Part 4 Ultrasound Carcass Data

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

The end goal of the cattle industry is to produce beef to feed a growing population.  At harvest there are many measurements that are taken to determine the value of a carcass.  Some of these traits are; rib eye area, marbling and fat thickness.  These traits are all higher in their heritability (0.4-0.6) than many of the other weight and production traits that are measured (0.1-0.4).  This means that you can make fairly rapid genetic progress for carcass traits.  However, it is hard to measure carcass traits without harvesting an animal, so we use ultrasound to estimate REA, intramuscular fat (IMF), as well as rib and rump fat.  The ultrasound will have to be done by a certified ultrasound technician and should be done between 320 and 550 days of age for the data to be included in the genetic […]

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Performance Article Series: Part 3 Other Traits Measured at Birth and Weaning

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

There are several other traits that are measured either at the time of birth or when calves are weaned. These include a calving ease score and udder scores at birth, then mature cow weight at weaning. These traits are important for the survival of the calf, the longevity of the cow and the efficiency of the cow. A live calf every year is the goal of most producers and having low maintenance cattle that are able to produce calves for many years are very valuable. By measuring these traits there is information provided for calculating both direct and maternal calving ease, as well as the development of new EPDs for udder scores and mature cow weights. These are all traits that are important for maternal ability and can possibly be incorporated into the calculation of $M index.

Calving ease is an […]

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Performance Article Series: Part 2 Weight Traits

 

By Lance Bauer, Director of Breed Improvement & Western Field Representative

The traits of birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight are all economically important to cattlemen. Birth weight is one of the leading causes of dystocia in cattle and can cause the loss of cow and/or calf. This leads many cow-calf producers to look for bulls with low birth weights. The majority of calves in the United States are also sold at weaning and are sold by the pound, so weaning heavy weaning weights are important to these producers. Other producers will retain ownership of calves through the feed yard and yearling weight can be an indicator of how well they will perform there. By measuring these weights on your cattle and recording the weights with the BBU registry system, you provide more information for the calculation of EPDs.

Birth weights are the first weights that should be recorded and should […]

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