Bull Se­lec­tion – Plan­ning for 2015


To some it may seem early to be talk­ing about 2015 al­ready. We have just made it into 2014 and have calv­ing, breed­ing, haying, har­vest wean­ing, etc. to think about be­fore the cal­en­dar rolls over to 2015.

How­ever, it will be 2015 be­fore you see any re­sults from a bull you bring home from the sale this spring; and 2017 be­fore you see if the fe­males off that bull are go­ing to make good re­place­ments.

It is im­por­tant to know the di­rec­tion you want your herd to go and have a plan to get it there. Choos­ing the right bull is the first step.

It may seem ob­vi­ous but the first step in choos­ing the bull that will fit into your breed­ing plan is to choose a breed.

If you have been happy with your breed­ing pro­gram in the past per­haps you want to con­tinue with the breeds that have brought you suc­cess.

Maybe there is room to bring ex­tra wean­ing weight to your calves, or per­haps you need to im­prove some of the ma­ter­nal traits in your cowherd.

Some­times con­sid­er­ing a dif­fer­ent breed than you have been us­ing can meet your needs.

The next log­i­cal step is to de­cide on the Ex­pected Prog­eny Dif­fer­ence ( EPD) pro­file that you need. The in­ter­net can be a great re­source when look­ing at EPDs.

Each breed as­so­ci­a­tion web­site will have breed av­er­ages for all of the EPDs that they cal­cu­late.

Many breeds will have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on hand who is happy to an­swer ques­tions about each EPD if you are un­sure what it might mean for your op­er­a­tion.

Lo­cal seed stock producers are also a great source of in­for­ma­tion on EPDs.

Once a breed is de­cided upon, and you know where your new bull needs to rank in all the rel­e­vant EPDs, the next step is to de­cide where to get him from.

Or another way of look­ing at it is to choose a breeder. Many seed stock producers pro­duce cat­a­logues to show­case their bull of­fer­ings for each year.

Gather all of th­ese to­gether and see which bulls will fit your needs.

Com­pile a list of four or five bulls from each breeder that would be suit­able.

Make ar­range­ments to see the bulls be­fore sale day. Call the breed­ers and ask if you can come to their op­er­a­tion.

You will be able to see how the bulls are man­aged up un­til sale day and see how they look be­fore they run through the ring.

Use this op­por­tu­nity to see the dams of the bulls that you had picked out.

This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant if you are plan­ning on keep­ing fe­males from their off­spring. Ask lots of ques­tions.

My ex­pe­ri­ence is that breed­ers love to talk about their cow herds.

You will be able to learn about cow fam­i­lies and which ones are long time producers and if there are any idio­syn­cra­sies, like poor docil­ity or short ges­ta­tion length, to be aware of.

When all this is done, you have likely made a de­ci­sion. There will be a bull that fits well into your pro­gram, will add needed traits to your op­er­a­tion, is ap­peal­ing to your eye, and comes from a line of cows that you would be happy to raise.

Once you have him pur­chased it is a good idea to in­sure that an­i­mal.

Many op­er­a­tions have pur­chased the ideal bull for their op­er­a­tion only to have him go down a week into breed­ing sea­son.

Some of the larger seed stock op­er­a­tions of­fer insurance, or it can be pur­chased from a third party.

There is a lot more to choos­ing a bull for your op­er­a­tion than go­ing to the clos­est sale and buy­ing the cheap­est bull. There are many fac­tors to con­sider.

On Feb. 12th at the John­stone Auc­tion Mart, and Feb. 13th at Saskatoon Live­stock Sales, the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture will be host­ing Bull Se­lec­tion Work­shops.

Topics at th­ese work­shops in­clude: Scro­tal Cir­cum­fer­ence and Fer­til­ity, Hy­brid Bulls, Live Bull Com­par­i­son and Sit­u­a­tional Bull Se­lec­tion, Ge­nom­i­cally En­hanced EPDs, plus Feed and It’s Ef­fect on Feet.

If you would like more in­for­ma­tion on sire se­lec­tion or to reg­is­ter for the up­com­ing Bull Se­lec­tion Workshop, con­tact the Agri­cul­ture Knowl­edge Cen­tre at 1-866-457-2377.

Dead­line for reg­is­tra­tion is Feb. 6.

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