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chasing EPD's

xbred

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to build a herd of 1st class purebred cattle, do you simply chase EPD's..(bred to the best of the bred as in multiple trait leaders) or do you look for specific epd's, or do you look phenotipically at offspring and improve shortcommings? or all of the above? It has to be more complicated than breding to the top multiple trait leaders easch season..
 

Frankie

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xbred":2hwseh29 said:
to build a herd of 1st class purebred cattle, do you simply chase EPD's..(bred to the best of the bred as in multiple trait leaders) or do you look for specific epd's, or do you look phenotipically at offspring and improve shortcommings? or all of the above? It has to be more complicated than breding to the top multiple trait leaders easch season..

Of course it's more complicated. IMO, you need to know your market, then use the EPDs available to you to help you supply that market. Your cattle's EPDs don't have to be the best in the breed, but if they're not "good", it might be more difficult to sell them for what you think they're worth. For example, you see a lot of people saying we're getting our cattle too big. Our market is bulls to commercial cattlemen. In this area they like big bulls. So our cows may be bigger than some other's cattle, but they raise bulls big enough to sell for enough to keep us in business. I want a sound bull, of course, but I've talked to too many bull buyers to believe they all want the same type of bull, so phenotype isn't high on my list of considerations in selecting AI bulls.
 

EAT BEEF

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IMO any cowherd should be based on balence and consistancey.Epd's are just one of the tools you can use to take the herd in the desired direction.I guess alot of people try to mate each cow to improve her,I like to try to move or maintain the herd in one direction by useing only a few bulls.
 

SRBeef

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I think there is no such thing as a perfect sire or cow. Breeding the "best" to the "best" sounds easy but what is "best'' depends on what direction you want your herd to go. Bigger, smaller, easy calving, more back fat, less backfat, more maternal milk, etc.

For me it is calving ease #1. I have a bull with very good calving ease EPD although it was "low accuracy". But I just had my last cow calve yesterday afternoon, 5/2. The first one was 4/11. 21 days from first to last No problems calving. Smallest 65 lb, largest about 80 lb - not sure of that one's exact wt because I was not here right after birth. Even though I don't have a large herd, the EPD's gave me just what I am looking for.

Calves look good and healthy. Here's a picture of the one born yesterday getting her face washed by her mom. You can see a few of the other calves in the background. I was cleaning up the winter area making some compost piles in the background but saw the calves running around in the bright sun and just had to take a break to watch up close.

The real test of the EPD's is the calf crop. Here are a few pictures from this afternoon.

View attachment 2

View attachment 1



I think of these calves as walking EPD's! 66's calf was stretching - life is so strenuous for a new calf. Don't mean to show a gross picture but I like the butt on this little heifer! She should be a good 1200 lb cow like her dam. 66 is my cow with a hernia I asked about after a couple -30 degree F nights in January. I'll have to have the vet take a look at it.
 

Brandonm22

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xbred":1et5x2c9 said:
to build a herd of 1st class purebred cattle, do you simply chase EPD's..(bred to the best of the bred as in multiple trait leaders) or do you look for specific epd's, or do you look phenotipically at offspring and improve shortcommings? or all of the above? It has to be more complicated than breding to the top multiple trait leaders easch season..

We could debate all day on just what was "1st class purebred cattle". Some would say those ARE the multiple trait leaders. Others would argue that the phenotypical type cattle they prefer (and different phenotypes go in and out of vogue in the industry as a whole) is the goal of cattle breeding. Somebody else would argue for moderation in both phenotypic and EPD selection. Others now also look at DNA testing. Somebody else would demand that they be both pleasing to the eye and multiple trait leaders. I think cattle have to be SOUND first and foremost. If they can't move, breed, and hold up over time they aren't going to last no matter how good their EPDs or their DNA profiles are. After that it is kind of your choice. You can breed for what YOU want and risk that the market rejects your views of "1st class purebred cattle" and won't pay you for them or you can try to breed for what the market wants......knowing that that is a moving target and will require some fluctuation of bloodlines.
 

KNERSIE

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I think cattle have to be SOUND first and foremost. If they can't move, breed, and hold up over time they aren't going to last no matter how good their EPDs or their DNA profiles are.

Can't agree more!

Another thing to consider when chasing EPDs is that high performance cattle have certain nutritional needs to be met to perform according to their genetic potential. If you can't provide that nutrition they often perform at a lower level than their more average contemporaries.

EPDs and performance needs to be matched not only to your goals and your market but also your environment. Otherwise you're playing a fools game.
 

Doug Thorson

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you can try to breed for what the market wants......knowing that that is a moving target and will require some fluctuation of bloodlines.

Anytime the industry passes you going from one extreme to another, you know you are doing things right!
 

showing71

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Just throwing my my 2 cents. I am just finishing up classes and in my Livestock Breeding class, we talked a lot about EPDs, how to calculate, what they mean, etc. Our teacher, and other Animal Science teachers, have emphasized this fact, EPDs are a tool to assist the breeder in making breeding decisions, not to be the sole basis for breeding an animal. However, EPDs are a much better indicator of specific traits than DNA. So I guess you have to pick your poison.
 

ollie?

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Frankie":25p0d6j2 said:
so phenotype isn't high on my list of considerations in selecting AI bulls.
Interesting point of view. I've never heard any epd chasing breeders actually admit what you did.
 

deenranch

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EPD's mean nothing to me if the cattle don't look good... I sold a bull earlier this year that had a way below WW epd. He had a great WW.... You have to look at both EPD's and the cattle.... But if they don't look good a number on a piece of paper is worthless!!!!!
 

Bonsman

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deenranch":9b7glb2h said:
EPD's mean nothing to me if the cattle don't look good... I sold a bull earlier this year that had a way below WW epd. He had a great WW.... You have to look at both EPD's and the cattle.... But if they don't look good a number on a piece of paper is worthless!!!!!

I agree completely. I think you "can" use EPD's as one tool in your tool box. My biggest tool is lineal measuring. I lineal measure every fullblood and record it on special software prepared by Gerald Fry. It spits our some intersting information.

Professor Jan Bonsma from that 3rd world country in SA began a breed based on lineal measuring. His book "man must measure" is a must read for all breeders. I believe that breed he developed is now thriving in that 3rd world country (South Africa).

Gerald Fry, a Devon breeder in the USA uses lineal measuring extensively. To be clear, I do not raise Devon cattle. He has some information on his website about some test on Terry Gentry's ranch comparing EPD's to lineal measuring.

It is explained on his website at: http://www.bovineengineering.com/linear.html. He has designed some measurement tools that make it easy to measure your cattle. There is a significant debate concerning EPD's and lineal measuring. I know just enough about the debate to be dangerous and pizzle off both sides of the argument. But if you would like to PM me, I would be happy to pizzle you off.
 

Frankie

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deenranch":phlg5409 said:
EPD's mean nothing to me if the cattle don't look good... I sold a bull earlier this year that had a way below WW epd. He had a great WW.... You have to look at both EPD's and the cattle.... But if they don't look good a number on a piece of paper is worthless!!!!!

Breeding gurus from universities, breed associations, feedlots, virtually every segment of our industry have said that the best indicator of an animal's breeding ability are his EPDs. The bull you sold had a great WW individually. EPDs tell us how likely he is to pass that great WW on to his offspring.

http://animalscience.tamu.edu/images/pd ... csE164.pdf
 

ollie?

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Frankie":9rln1gub said:
virtually every segment of our industry have said that the best indicator of an animal's breeding ability are his EPDs.
Virtually every segment of our industry in the 50's argued for compressed cattle and we got dwarfs. Virtually every segment of our industry said we had to have packer efficient, 10 frame corn hogs in the late 70's and we got cows that couldn't survive without a bucket. What makes you "think" every segment is correct on their latest position? A high accuracy WW epd might be an indicator of genetic merit for WW but it's certainly proven to be wrong often which for me prohibits using epd's alone as you suggest.
 

Frankie

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ollie?":1ve54j0h said:
Frankie":1ve54j0h said:
virtually every segment of our industry have said that the best indicator of an animal's breeding ability are his EPDs.
Virtually every segment of our industry in the 50's argued for compressed cattle and we got dwarfs. Virtually every segment of our industry said we had to have packer efficient, 10 frame corn hogs in the late 70's and we got cows that couldn't survive without a bucket. What makes you "think" every segment is correct on their latest position? A high accuracy WW epd might be an indicator of genetic merit for WW but it's certainly proven to be wrong often which for me prohibits using epd's alone as you suggest.

First and foremost: I've never suggesting using EPDs alone. You know that.

Second: Show me a scientific, reliable method of using phenotype to improve the bottom line of the commercial people who buy our bulls. I didn't say I ignored phenotype. There are Angus bulls we don't use any more because we just don't like the looks of their calves. Today a commercial cattleman can look at a sheet of paper and be fairly comfortable in saying "I'd expect that bull (WW EPD 55) to sire calves that weigh 55 more pounds at weaning than that bull with the WW EPD of 0." He knows the value of 55 more pounds at the sale barn. How does he judge the dollar value of phenotype?
 

Aero

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showing71":24iiuc05 said:
Just throwing my my 2 cents. I am just finishing up classes and in my Livestock Breeding class, we talked a lot about EPDs, how to calculate, what they mean, etc. Our teacher, and other Animal Science teachers, have emphasized this fact, EPDs are a tool to assist the breeder in making breeding decisions, not to be the sole basis for breeding an animal. However, EPDs are a much better indicator of specific traits than DNA. So I guess you have to pick your poison.

DNA is less useful than EPDs in my world. much easier to identify, but less useful.

it's like everything else... avoid extremes and keep your costs low. (this is true for almost everything in life BTW)
 

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