Grading Bulls

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critterair2

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For the inexperienced, does anyone want to discuss what they look for when buying a bull with details? Legs, Back, etc...
 

Freddie

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Structural Correctness-maybe the most important thing; look at the animal from the ground up, feet are a good indicator of what is above (if they're small, splay-footed, pigeon-toed, etc = bad), move up to shoulders and hip, should have fairly level top line; watch the animal move, if his movement is restricted it will restrict the ground he can cover to cover your girls

Muscle-they will pass this on to their progeny, the more the better but not too much; ADG, WW, YW

Volume-they should not have too much body condition or too little, extremes in either direction will effect their performance

Masculinity-stouter appearance, SC (larger SC-linked to how quick daughters reach puberty)

Balance-how well everything fits together (kinda like a beauty pagent)

If possible you ought to get a Breeding Soundness Exam on the fella to make sure all his equipment is up to par

Also if he has EPDs or if there are paternal or maternal EPDs avaliable you should look at them, they are good indicators of what kind of offspring he will throw
 

dyates

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One little bit of advice an old man gave me to use in addition to everything else was to watch him walk. A bull that is proportionally balanced should produce one set of tracks, i.e. assuming the ground is level and firm, his back feet should hit in the tracks left by his front feet. From what I have observed so far, his advice has held true.
 

KNERSIE

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dyates":2o565qv6 said:
One little bit of advice an old man gave me to use in addition to everything else was to watch him walk. A bull that is proportionally balanced should produce one set of tracks, i.e. assuming the ground is level and firm, his back feet should hit in the tracks left by his front feet. From what I have observed so far, his advice has held true.

An unsound bull cannot track like this, there are lots of complicated angles if you want to break it down technically, but for the inexperienced if the legs look normal and his back feet tracks in those of the front feet, he is usually sound.

If you have to accept a slight fault in this regard, its always better to have a little too much angle in the hocks than not enough.
 

Freddie

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when I said to watch him move I was talkin about watching him walk, you're right that is very important for a bull expected to do live cover
 

novatech

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Once all the above has been done there is one other thing I consider important. If it is a young unproven bull I like to see some consistency between the bull I like and other bulls in the same group. If this is the only good bull in a group of 10 it shows weakness in the genetic line. If the percentage of quality bulls his higher then the likelihood of the bull you select in passing on those genes will go up. If the bull is old enough to have had some calves on the ground then I will grade the bull on his progeny.
I also like to see the dam, as 50% of what I am buying comes from her and will be passed on as well. Her udder quality is another important trait to look at.
Many times it is not possible to get all the info. from the seller but I get as much as is available.
 

MikeC

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The only way to grade a bull is by measuring his calves' against others in a contemporary group.

Use all the tools in the box to make your best guess.
 

LFF

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Lets discuss the tracking of the back feet landing in the front foot print. Many people are selecting for shorter frame cattle with lots of length. Do you believe that a very long bull will plant his back feet in the front track? There has to be a perfect length to leg height for the proper amount of leg movement to make that happen. I like the longer length bulls however most times they will not track the way that has been described. Any thoughts?
 

rocket2222

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LFF":1sn8543d said:
Lets discuss the tracking of the back feet landing in the front foot print. Many people are selecting for shorter frame cattle with lots of length. Do you believe that a very long bull will plant his back feet in the front track? There has to be a perfect length to leg height for the proper amount of leg movement to make that happen. I like the longer length bulls however most times they will not track the way that has been described. Any thoughts?

I've seen a couple well put together, what I would call long bulls, up close, one of them was Online, and they all tracked pretty much putting the rear foot where the front foot was. You also need to make sure they track straight, a good moving animal will also track straight, that is viewed from the rear the hind leg should move in a straight line and hide the front leg from view. The same goes when watching them walk from directly in front, the front leg should move in a straight line and the rear leg should be hidden from view. There should be no circular motion in action of the legs.
 

LFF

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Online has a tall frame to go along with his length. The type that I am referring to are shorter but still just as long. There seems to be considerable interest in what I am going to describe as weiner dog type bulls, short but very long. It would be impossible for them to track perfectly. I agree that they still need to plant their feet squarely behind the front track, but for them to plant their back feet in the same track they would have to bow up their back when walking. I don't have any that fit the description or I would post a picture. I do know that increased length and decreased height is a quality that many are looking for.
 

KNERSIE

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LFF":2qokjt5n said:
Online has a tall frame to go along with his length. The type that I am referring to are shorter but still just as long. There seems to be considerable interest in what I am going to describe as weiner dog type bulls, short but very long. It would be impossible for them to track perfectly. I agree that they still need to plant their feet squarely behind the front track, but for them to plant their back feet in the same track they would have to bow up their back when walking. I don't have any that fit the description or I would post a picture. I do know that increased length and decreased height is a quality that many are looking for.

The tracking rule of thumb is just that, an easy to use rule of thumb for those who are not experienced enough to weigh things up more technically.

While I agree in theory a longer bodied bull may yield one more ribeye steak in practice there is a balance that need to be kept in order to keep cattle sound and to avoid premature breakdown.

Online's progeny is extremely long bodied, but I have to say I have seen quite a few that breaks just behind the shoulder in the topline.

Its always a give and take and once you go to the extreme in any trait you're going to give back on a few other traits. The olden day standards was that cattle should be able to be devided in thirds. From the head to the shoulders make up one third, from the shoulders to the hips another third and the last third from the hips back. This may sound a bit archaic, but if we try and see the moral of the story we need to lengthen all three thirds of the critter to stay in balance and to keep them sound and not just the midsection.
 

rocket2222

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LFF":3jcw4awf said:
Online has a tall frame to go along with his length. The type that I am referring to are shorter but still just as long. There seems to be considerable interest in what I am going to describe as weiner dog type bulls, short but very long. It would be impossible for them to track perfectly. I agree that they still need to plant their feet squarely behind the front track, but for them to plant their back feet in the same track they would have to bow up their back when walking. I don't have any that fit the description or I would post a picture. I do know that increased length and decreased height is a quality that many are looking for.


Ah, yes the weiner type bulls. I think to answer that question, you have to look at why folks are looking for that type of bull. Due to high grain and fuel prices the feedyards want steers that doesn't cost a arm and leg to finish, this was especially evident at the local market this past week, where the thicker, growthier steers were bringing about $ 1.00 / $ 1.05 per lb, lighter, smaller framed steers were bringing $ 0.80 / $ 0.85 cents. The average run of the mill 4 or 5 frame bull on your average 4 or 5 frame cow will not consistently produce growthy steers in the high 600 to 700lb range at weaning that the market needs today, but the power talkers in the buisness have convinced a whole lot of folks that 4 and 5 frame cattle are more efficient, so to compensate for the lack of pounds [growth] they are looking for bulls with extra length to help push the scales down at sale time, anyway, to cut a already to long a story short, [I have to get back to fencing]. What they are going to end up with is a bunch of short fat extra long bulls with bad backs. Balance is whats needed, if they are too long to track correctly, then they are too long..
 

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