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Talking Bull

Actions Breed Better Bulls Than Words

Identifying and breeding from the best requires measurement.

Raising seed-stock cattle with exposure to commercial environmental challenges is highly important to breeding bulls that suit real world production systems. I believe however that for many important fitness and adaption traits general herd exposure is not enough to maximise the rate of genetic improvement. Ideally these traits are actually measured for and the results analysed and used as part of balanced selection criteria that picks the best animals to breed the next generation.

At Popplewell Composites calving problems in our nucleus herd are virtually non existent and we plan to keep it that way for our bull customers by weighing all calves at birth. Simply not checking females at calving time does not prevent calving problems creeping in, especially if you are selecting for rapid growth rate to point of market.

Our female nucleus herd is run in a commercial like coastal environment with a high tick challenge. This not only challenges the herd to perform under extreme real world conditions in general, but provides us with the opportunity to score calves for tick resistance and select the most resistant as future sires and dams.

Culling sub-fertile females makes good sense for both commercial and seed-stock herds. In order to maximise genetic improvement however, selecting replacement sires who’s female relatives have not only calved every year but have the best calving interval records creates much faster genetic improvement. Accurate birth dates, joining records, bull fertility testing and pedigrees allow us to select the most fertile families and animals to breed from.

So next time some one gives you you the spin that their genetics are superior because of what they don't do, please ask yourself if this is enough. I think commercial bull customers deserve a lot more from their bull supplier. Measuring variation between animals for important adaption, fertility, production and carcass traits not only allows the tail to be culled out of the herd, but also the lead to be selected to breed a better next generation.

For more information on how our performance recording and breeding program is designed to benefit our customers please click here.