Bull Buying Basics

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Frankie

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Bull Buying Basics - The Package Counts, Not the Wrapping - Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Buying bulls can be simple if we can separate the wrapping from the package. The package is what counts, but many times we get all "wrapped up" in the way the package looks.

This is very similar to buying the perfect gift and then spending hours picking out the wrapping paper. We spend a lot of time on the wrapping paper, so much in fact that we may run out of time buying the right gift.

In reality, we don't keep the wrapping in the beef business. What is inside the wrapping is what gives the package real meaning.

The industry today has adopted and implemented a genetic selection process called expected progeny differences (EPDs). EPDs are based on a thorough statistical evaluation of actual data. The data started appearing in bull catalogs years ago.

Through the years, the concept has caught on and is now the basis for determining just what is in the package, despite the wrapping. The data makes it easy for producers to compare EPDs from one bull in a breed with another bull in the same breed.

After comparing data, producers quickly can calculate the expected progeny differences of the two bulls being compared. (Across-breed comparisons can be made if the EPDs are correctly adjusted. However, that is another BeefTalk column.)

The expected progeny difference is expressed for each particular trait in the common language used for the trait. For example, growth traits generally are expressed in pounds, while height traits are in inches and ribeye size in square inches.

There are many traits. The American Angus Association lists EPDs for calving ease direct, birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, yearling height, scrotal circumference, calving ease maternal, maternal milk production, mature weight, mature height, carcass weight, marbling, ribeye area, fat thickness, and ultrasound intramuscular fat, ribeye area and fat thickness.

Every one of these EPDs can be utilized to compare different bulls by comparing the differences in the EPD values. Given all the traits, many breed associations have further simplified sire selection by creating and calculating multitrait selection indexes to further help producers in their selection process.

The index EPD values can be compared across bulls. If one is in the business of breeding beef, within an arm's length of the desk chair are publications with information on bulls and their individual EPDs.

The "Spring 2008 Pasture to Plate Genetics" publication published by ABS Global Inc. arrived recently. ABS is one of several companies that market cattle genetics covering several breeds.

On page 39, individual Angus bulls are listed as curve benders and growth. The data on these bulls would have been analyzed by the American Angus Association. If one goes to the Web page of the American Angus Association (http://www.angus.org/), it is easy to locate the same numbers for these bulls. It also has a detailed explanation of the traits. These are growth bulls and one quickly can glance down the rows and compare the bulls.

The first bull listed is Extra K205 and has a listed weaning weight EPD of plus 55. The second bull listed is Alliance I87. He has a listed weaning weight EPD of plus 63.

In terms of weaning weight, the second bull listed is predicted to produce calves that average 8 pounds heavier than calves from the first bull listed. As producers of beef, one probably does not need to utilize all the genetic information that is available on sires today. However, the more one understands, the more likely one will be pleased with the outcome.

Yes, the wrapping is important. A well-wrapped package sells well, but don't forget, it's what's in the package that counts.

http://beef.osu.edu/beef/beefFeby27.html
 
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Frankie

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Jovid":26fknlul said:

It seems quite often on this board some people get caught up in a bull's looks without much regard for performance. This piece just struck me as an article that would might help people focus more on what actually can make their program profitable.
 

backhoeboogie

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Jovid":18qarrwf said:

Now we know what we have been missing for the last few decades :D :D :D

Did you notice the wrapping paper dicussion? I did not see any mention of black wrapping paper. I have indeed noticed many getting caught up in that wrapping paper issue tho.
 

Txwalt

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step 4. Ask for advice on the boards then disregard and do what you were going to do anyway.

Walt
 
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Frankie

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twistedxranch":2jeyohcn said:
Step 1.

If buying an angus bull dont buy one that has no butt is slab sided and looks like a cow. This goes for buying any bull not just angus.

That's the wrapping paper.
 

aussie_cowgirl

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I don't care how good his EPD's are, if it's a slab sided bull with no butt I don't want it. EVER. They don't read EPD's at a sale yard. But they do look at wrapping paper. Which is why you can't sell so many good cattle. Sad fact of life. EPD's are a good tool but I think people can get just as carried away with them as they do wrapping paper. They need to be used in conjunction with each other. None of this one or the other crap.
 

donnaIL

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Ill let you know if the wrapping paper works, suppose to get me 50$ cwt more (I cant wait!)
 

Wisteria Farms

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Good Post...

FIRST I look at the EPD's...(am I wanting growth, am I wanting fertility, etc., am I putting him on heifers/cows?)

THEN I look at the "wrapping paper"... and choose the one from the first group that is put together best. The best bull on paper can often fall apart when you do a visual...JMO.
 

showing71

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Wisteria Farms":3o2plqne said:
Good Post...

FIRST I look at the EPD's...(am I wanting growth, am I wanting fertility, etc., am I putting him on heifers/cows?)

THEN I look at the "wrapping paper"... and choose the one from the first group that is put together best. The best bull on paper can often fall apart when you do a visual...JMO.
Similar to what I do Wisteria.

I usually go to sales, and what I do is look through the book before going and pick out bulls based on pedigrees and EPDs. I then go to the sale and look at bulls without looking at EPDs. After walking through the bulls, I then go sit in the truck and see if any I picked on EPDs alone are the same I picked on looks alone. After determining the ones that match up, I walk back through, looking then at both EPDs and the bull himself to make the final decision.
 

Wisteria Farms

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showing71":y2l13gh7 said:
Wisteria Farms":y2l13gh7 said:
Good Post...

FIRST I look at the EPD's...(am I wanting growth, am I wanting fertility, etc., am I putting him on heifers/cows?)

THEN I look at the "wrapping paper"... and choose the one from the first group that is put together best. The best bull on paper can often fall apart when you do a visual...JMO.
Similar to what I do Wisteria.

I usually go to sales, and what I do is look through the book before going and pick out bulls based on pedigrees and EPDs. I then go to the sale and look at bulls without looking at EPDs. After walking through the bulls, I then go sit in the truck and see if any I picked on EPDs alone are the same I picked on looks alone. After determining the ones that match up, I walk back through, looking then at both EPDs and the bull himself to make the final decision.

Yea...I had a guy want some information from the sale I went to in early April... I had to apologize for all my "scribbles"...I had no intention of buying that day but went through the motions just the same to see which one I WOULD HAVE bought...maybe that's just being addicted to cattle. :lol: :lol:
 

Wisteria Farms

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twistedxranch":p1pwx6lx said:
Wisteria Farms":p1pwx6lx said:
Good Post...

FIRST I look at the EPD's...(am I wanting growth, am I wanting fertility, etc., am I putting him on heifers/cows?)

THEN I look at the "wrapping paper"... and choose the one from the first group that is put together best. The best bull on paper can often fall apart when you do a visual...JMO.


I do this somewhat as well. However, I want a balanced bull. Since I make most of my money on freezer beef I want large ribeye areas, good imf for the breed, very little back fat (increased carcass dressing percentage and less waste), high average daily gains, high weaning and high yearling weights so that they wean heavy and are ready to slaughter heavy. First and foremost I look at birthweight though and how the bull as made. If he is coarse shouldered in the front I pass. Believe it or not I want a bull that is just a tad sickle hocked as they have more stayability it has been my experience. My vet advised me of that as well that you want a bull that has a set to his back legs slightly. They will last alot longer than a post legged bull for sure. I saw a mccumber angus sale and several of their bulls were a tad sickle hocked.
Twisted..
yes the ultrasound info was part of what I sent him...we had ultrasound, GeneStar, test data (gains, rfi), etc. I had lots of notes on all of them... this is why I consider buying from a good bull test the best way to buy... where else can you get all that information? Actually it was Doc Harris who "instructed" me as to the perfect set on a bulls back legs.. considering all their weight is on those back legs...this is why I don't get/will never be really good at showing...to me the animals are so "fluffed" they all wind up looking post legged...Thank goodness Murray Grey's aren't a big hair breed... :lol:
 
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Frankie

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aussie_cowgirl":2lc2bnpn said:
I don't care how good his EPD's are, if it's a slab sided bull with no butt I don't want it. EVER. They don't read EPD's at a sale yard. But they do look at wrapping paper. Which is why you can't sell so many good cattle. Sad fact of life. EPD's are a good tool but I think people can get just as carried away with them as they do wrapping paper. They need to be used in conjunction with each other. None of this one or the other crap.

And if the slab sided bull had ultrasound data indicating a better ribeye and more marbling than the bull with the butt? I think that's the entire point of this article. Today we can get a better idea of what's under the "wrapping paper" before it's hung on the rail.
 
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Frankie

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donnaIL":19l88nia said:
Ill let you know if the wrapping paper works, suppose to get me 50$ cwt more (I cant wait!)

"50$ cwt". That better be some wrapping paper.
 

SRBeef

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I agree with Wisteria's combination of the two - first EPD's THEN wrapping paper.

Since I am a newcomer and not good at judging wrapping paper and an engineer by training I tend to look a bit more at the EPD's and others advice on the wrapping paper.

It does seem to me that there should be a visual coordination between some of the EPD's and the wrapping paper. Low backfat for one...

So far the EPD's have seemed to be very accurate on my first bull purchase, (T021). As calving ease is my #1 priority the calving so far this year has been amazing and very much in line with what his EPD's indicate. The calves have been easy calving, uniform, mostly close together and overall look great. Here's are pictures of two.

View attachment 1



Now we will see if the growth EPD is accurate. None of what I need would be obvious by the wrapping paper, at least to me.

Thanks for posting the article.

Jim
 
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Frankie

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Jim, you're welcome for the article and thanks for the pictures. Hereford calves make me smile. They're so clean and new. :)
 

aussie_cowgirl

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Frankie":34g7jefk said:
aussie_cowgirl":34g7jefk said:
I don't care how good his EPD's are, if it's a slab sided bull with no butt I don't want it. EVER. They don't read EPD's at a sale yard. But they do look at wrapping paper. Which is why you can't sell so many good cattle. Sad fact of life. EPD's are a good tool but I think people can get just as carried away with them as they do wrapping paper. They need to be used in conjunction with each other. None of this one or the other crap.

And if the slab sided bull had ultrasound data indicating a better ribeye and more marbling than the bull with the butt? I think that's the entire point of this article. Today we can get a better idea of what's under the "wrapping paper" before it's hung on the rail.

I can find a better bull with good rib eye and marbling. People shouldn't look past confirmation. You don't eat feet but if they're shoddy you're screwed. I'll look at a bull, confirmation wise and then look at his EPD's. I don't care if you think that's wrong. A bull with good confirmation, good muscle growth etc, will normally have good EPD's. If he doesn't I'll move on. Simple. It makes me super selective but my herd will benefit from that.
 

dun

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aussie_cowgirl":3au1ihcn said:
I can find a better bull with good rib eye and marbling. People shouldn't look past confirmation. You don't eat feet but if they're shoddy you're screwed. I'll look at a bull, confirmation wise and then look at his EPD's. I don't care if you think that's wrong. A bull with good confirmation, good muscle growth etc, will normally have good EPD's. If he doesn't I'll move on. Simple. It makes me super selective but my herd will benefit from that.
Problem is you can;t see the ribeye and marbling with the hide on. We have 2 cows that are half sisters. They look so much alike they could be twins. Built the same, same udder, same width and deptch, etc. One cow bred to about anything has calves that always go choice and usually high choice. The other cow bred to the same bulls or even to a strictly ribeye and marbeling bull has never had a calf that is anything but barely middle select.
 

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