If you are planning on introducing a bull into your cowherd, you don’t want to just randomly pick the strongest brute you see. Rather, you want make sure the bull is right for your cowherd. In the cattle industry, two cowherds are rarely the same. Some cowherds are for beef purposes, breeding, replacement heifers or a varying combination of all three. So if you want to add a bull to your established (or up and coming) herd, answer these questions first.
High Maintenance or Low Maintenance Herd?
When building your cowherd, your first goal should be to find heifers that will be as low maintenance as possible. This means heifers with good calving ease and mothering ability percentiles. Sometimes cattle will calve during the night when no staff or veterinarians are available to assist. Though it’s not uncommon for first-time heifers to need some sort of calving assistance, if a heifer continues to have calving difficulties, it could cause damage to her and the calf and can cost you financially. Therefore for first-time heifers, stick with a top calving ease direct (CED) percentile or find a terminal bull with a low birth weight EPD.
Do You Need a Replacement Heifer?
The average production you can expect from a cow is eight years. So if you have any older cows coming close to that age, it may be time to purchase a replacement heifer. When you purchase a replacement heifer from a production sale or listing, you want to make sure her EPD closely matches the genetic markers from the cow she is replacing. That way, there isn’t a sizeable genomic gap missing from your overall cowherd.
Do You Need to Increase the Weight in Calves?
While smaller calves are ideal for first-time heifers, more mature cows are great for larger calves. Why would you need a larger calf? If you are planning on selling your calf as a feeder or selling any beef cattle, you will need calves with a larger birth, weaning and yearling weight. To achieve this, look for a terminal bull that can increase weight and growth in calves.
Also, you want to make sure that your beef cattle are converting their food intake to body mass as efficiently as possible. So, aim for a high Dry Intake Matter (DMI) percentile on either the bull or production cow’s EPD.
Do You Need Maternal Qualities?
Perhaps one of your cowherd goals is to produce replacement heifers to either replace older production cows or to sell at auction. In that case, you will need a maternal bull. This type of bull will increase the probability of important mothering qualities such as:
- Calving Ease Maternal (CEM)
- Maternal Milk (Milk)
- Heifer Pregnancy (HP)
To identify a good maternal bull, look for higher percentiles in the maternal section of their EPD. Also, be sure to evaluate the number of daughters (MkD) and Herds (MkH) the bull has fostered.
Bulls for All Cowherd Goals
At Spring Grove Ranch, we not only sell sires, but we sell sires that come from an elite ancestry. That way you are getting quality sires that meet and exceed your cowherd goals. You can always contact us for a private treaty or visit us during one of our bull sales.