Balance Is Bull

Power in his slightly younger years. He is a great cow-maker bull. Picture taken Nov 15, 2009.

Power in his slightly younger years. He is a great cow-maker bull. Picture taken Nov 15, 2009.

“Balance traits,” they say.

I say, “Bull!”

Balancing traits means that you try to go in the middle, you give up something to get something else. Why? How does that improve your operation? You breed for balance, you breed for average, and why settle for average?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to not give up anything?

I’m going to put it out there: Make the best cow you can make. Maker her fertile, an easy-keeper, early maturing, and carcass traits would be a bonus. Get a bull that has growth and carcass traits to cover your cows. Ideally you’re going to get an easy-fleshing bull that has a high average daily gain, low birthweight, high weaning weight, high yearling weight, and stellar carcass traits.

What are you likely to end up with? A easy-born calf that gains like crazy, and the buyers are fighting over because they wan the high growth and the carcass traits.

What made you money on the deal? That your COW didn’t cost you a bunch to maintain and have her raise the calf!

The KEY is to NOT keep heifers out of these matings!!! I repeat: DO NOT keep heifers from these matings!

If you are going to keep heifers, breed your best cows to the best MATERNAL bulls, to make more of your best cows and keep heifers from those matings.

Balancing scenario:

“Balanced cow”–good maternal traits, high growth, mediocre carcass traits–bred to a “balanced bull”–mediocre birthweight and maternal traits, high growth, high carcass traits. Result: Mediocre birthweight and maternal traits, high growth, mediocre-high carcass traits.

So you end up with calves that are mediocre-to-good and roll some of the heifers back into the herd. Those heifers you roll back in the herd end up as mediocre (read as: expensive to maintain and keep in production) cows. And the cycle repeats, with mediocrity continuing and leaning toward the not-so-great.

Balance is bull.

And just like anything, there are exceptions. There are certain things that *should* be balanced, but breeding a “balanced” cow to a “balanced” bull is reducing production and profitability.

Leave a Reply