How would you build a herd from scratch?

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WalnutCrest

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This is a fun scenario I like to discuss with thoughtful people about how to build a reputable program known for having great stock. Just curious how the group here sees it.

Scenario: You start with 12 proven females you think are really great; any of whom you'd be willing to use as an embryo donor cow. They're out of four largely unrelated, fall-calving herds, where each herd is known for at least a reasonable amount of inbreeding/linebreeding. You have hands-on experience with calves and bulls out of each herd, and while there are differences between them, you're pretty much equally impressed with the quality of the cattle from each operation. Since you're spring-calving, you arranged to purchase all 12 females as open cows after they've weaned their most recent calf. Also, you start with semen on five very proven bulls of the highest quality you'd like to use as the foundation of your herd; some of the semen is really rare, some more common; all five bulls are dead and any other semen is too expensive to even consider buying -- this is all the semen you'll ever have on these five bulls. The first four bulls on the list were foundation bulls for each of the four herds you've purchased cows out of; the fifth bull is another largely-unrelated bull that you have hands on experience with and are also very impressed with. In order to kick-start your program, you're planning on AI's and embryo work to get you where you want to go ... but, due to the cost of the initial 12 females and the semen you've purchased, you only have enough money left for six attempted flushes (at 2 units of semen each), six attempted IVF procedures (at one not more than unit of semen each; you can use one unit across up to five females if you synch the at the same time) and 12 recips (confirmed bred with your to-be-created embryos), each of whom are young enough that you think you can use them in future years as recips, too. Since your 12 cows are all open, they're ready to flush/IVF/AI as soon as you'd like to start. When you've reached your goal, you will have a herd of 200 mama cows and are producing replacement females for yourself and others, and bulls for yourself and others.

The five bulls are ranked from best to worst based on your criteria (whatever the criteria might be isn't really that important for this exercise) and the number of breeding units you have to use:

Bull 1 = 35 units (foundation bull for herd 1)
Bull 2 = 5 units (foundation bull for herd 2)
Bull 3 = 15 units (foundation bull for herd 3)
Bull 4 = 20 units (foundation bull for herd 4)
Bull 5 = 150 units (this is the closest thing you have to a true 'heifer bull'; largely unrelated to the others, he's a great-great-great grandson of bulls 2 and 3)

None of the semen is already sexed.

In today's market, with current cattle prices ... how do you start your program? Do you start with flushes and do IVF later? Do you do IVF now and flush later? Both now? Both later? If you do any embryo work out of the gate, do you decide which embryos get used and which ones get frozen for future use? Do you make embryos to day and wait to use them in the future? Or, make them and use them as fast as you're able?

Do you run four different cow families, one for each of the four herds you purchased from ... or ... do you look to integrate all four groups of females into a single herd as soon as you're able?

How do you decide which calves you're going to keep for the next generation as you expand numbers? How will the criteria change once you're at capacity (200 mama cows)?

Do you use up all of your semen on your best bull before going down the list, or do you use a little of this and a little of that?

Etc.

I hope this discussion is as interesting as I think it might be...
 

jedstivers

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I wouldn't do any of that.
I'd buy everything out of the barn in my price range that was skin and bones. Treat them better than where they came from and put 3-400 pounds on them and get them bred. Some will be bred so calve them out. Out of all of them there will be some real good ones that could be kept and the others will pay for them. That's if you wanted to keep any, you can keep turning them all and making money and buying more and making more money.
In the time it takes to grow to 200 front pasture cattle thousands upon thousands could have been made on rough stock.
But that's just me, I'm glad everyone doesn't want to to that.
 

Rafter S

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It all depends on where you're starting from and where you want to go. I'm sure your plan would work fine if you have very deep pockets, and are focused on producing top quality cattle even if it's years before you see any profit. If you have a limited budget, and expect the cows to start at least breaking even pretty soon, and hopefully making money, then Jed's plan is the way to go. That's my opinion, and it's guaranteed to be worth what it cost you.
 

R V

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I am presuming the cows are young and the owners finances are good, but did not recently win the lottery. Since your goal is 12 pregnant recips, I would pick my favorite 3 cows and flush them once to 3 different bulls or IVF them once to the bull that you feel is the best. The rest I would AI once and then put with your favorite (probably only at this stage) bull. I would then breed those 3 cows that were collected the same way. I would repeat a similar scenario the next year to help build numbers without breaking the bank. During this process your thoughts about the cattle and what you do and don't like about them are probably going to change and you should begin to decifer which cows do the best with your management. If your cows were young enough initially and the extra bulls are selling decently, I would do this same scenario 1 more year although I would probably switch to IVF while the cows are pregnant to get the desired number of pregnant recips. (In this scenario, I would probably switch to this year 2.) Now you have more options for bull power and you can pick the ones that have done the best in your environment and hopefully they will be out of the cows that you think are the best. Now I would use primarily your own bulls for breeding and continue AI and ET/IVF with the "old" semen for specific and hopefully value added reasons, but I would not use up all of one bull. It may be many years before you know which bull was actually the best in your environment or which cow lines each bull works the best on and which bulls were just hype or at least don't work in your environment.
 

bulldurham

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Id continue to flush your best cow to your best bull and use the other 11 cows as recips. Few have the patients for this approach but I can't imagine a better foundation than starting w/ 50 or so full sisters.
 
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WalnutCrest

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Interesting responses so far ...

* Two votes for some version of "it's a bad idea to try to become a seed stock producer"
* One vote for "keep the cow families separate and tinker around with the genetics to find what works best in your environment"
* One vote for "combine the cow families by exclusively using the semen from your best bull in the process to get as many full sisters"
* One vote for "too many moving parts / blech"
 

Nesikep

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hehe, I hadn't had my morning coffee yet and wasn't firing on all cylinders.

I don't know much about producing seedstock, but I'd probably use the best bull's semen on those 12 cows, retain heifers or bulls from them since they're exceptional, and use those bulls on the other herds... I still don't have the full mental picture of what I have to work with
 

AllForage

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Walnut, what is a reasonable amount of linebreeding? Why buy related females to just outcross to 5 outcrossed Bulls in your scenario.

I vote none of the above

Oh and what is the goal of this herd and end market? How are they managed? That has a large influence on how one would go forward.
 

bulldurham

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jedstivers":1dfvun5g said:
I still like my idea, I've got five more on the trailer now. 5,280 for all five and one is in 2nd stage. They will turn into 7,500-10,000 in 5-6 months.


Completely different rhelm. You're looking to renovate and flip homes. WC is more of an designer/builder looking to build custom homes.
 

mrvictordomino

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AllForage":38xz02wr said:
Walnut, what is a reasonable amount of linebreeding? Why buy related females to just outcross to 5 outcrossed Bulls in your scenario.

I vote none of the above

Oh and what is the goal of this herd and end market? How are they managed? That has a large influence on how one would go forward.
I agree with Allforage, If you like a particular herds line breeding program and it works in your environment, why outcross? All you will do is dilute the genetics and create more variation. I'm not saying there could be some improvement made by using outcross lines but to reproduce the same cattle you liked to begin with why not get the benefit of all the years of breeding that has taken place to get to this point. Select your twelve cows and get the best bull you can from the same program and start from there would be what I would do.
DM
 

skyhightree1

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jedstivers":2f1t5aja said:
I wouldn't do any of that.
I'd buy everything out of the barn in my price range that was skin and bones. Treat them better than where they came from and put 3-400 pounds on them and get them bred. Some will be bred so calve them out. Out of all of them there will be some real good ones that could be kept and the others will pay for them. That's if you wanted to keep any, you can keep turning them all and making money and buying more and making more money.
In the time it takes to grow to 200 front pasture cattle thousands upon thousands could have been made on rough stock.
But that's just me, I'm glad everyone doesn't want to to that.

+1 :tiphat:
 
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WalnutCrest

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WalnutCrest":3360artn said:
Interesting responses so far ...

* Two votes for some version of "it's a bad idea to try to become a seed stock producer"
* One vote for "keep the cow families separate and tinker around with the genetics to find what works best in your environment"
* Two votes for "combine the cow families by exclusively using the semen from your best bull in the process to get as many full sisters"
* Two vote for "I can't read real well and you, WC, can't communicate for crap, but, if I could read and you could communicate, I think I'd have to go w/ what RV wrote"

Fixed

***********************

AllForage -- The phrase "reasonable amount of inbreeding/linebreeding" is up for your interpretation ... whatever you consider to be reasonable. The intent of my words is to allow the responder to believe that no inbreeding is acceptable ... or ... to believe that only highly inbred animals are acceptable. I chose the words so you could apply the meaning you'd want to apply. This isn't a discussion of anything other than what, in the opinion of whomever would chose to respond, with the information provided, is the best way forward given the objective and the capital available. Also, the five bulls are not 'outcrossed' as I know the term ... one is (Bull 5), but not the other four. The first four bulls on the list were foundation bulls for each of the four herds that sold cows (i.e., Bull 1 came from Herd 1, and the scenario assumed you bought three cows from Herd 1 ... just like you did from Herd 2 (which is the herd that was based in large part on the contributions from Bull 2) ... etc ...). Bull 5 is the only one that's not very closely related to the others (but, as I noted in the scenario, you've been around this bull and have seen his calves and were impressed by them, hence your acquisition of semen). Lastly, the target market and management can be whatever you want it to be ... the cows and semen were acquired with whatever your target market is in mind.

The reason you bought cows from four different herds is because you found some aspects of what they were doing that you thought might really work for you ... but ... because you'd never had animals from any of the herds on your place and under your management, you decided to spread your risk a bit and get a sample set of females from each herd to try out.

So, with all that said and reading what you wrote, it would appear that you'd be in favor of something like this ---- "Breed Bull 1 to the cows that came from Herd 1, Breed Bull 2 to the cows from Herd 2, etc. and see which cows and calves perform best in your management with your objectives, and once this information is known, hit the gas pedal and start your ET work from there."

Is that close?

And, if it is, then, I think that's pretty close to what RV suggested earlier on...

And, DM, I think that what I am guessing would be AllForage's thoughts (given an improvement in my ability to communicate and his ability to comprehend) would also be pretty similar to what RV wrote. Amiright?
 

fenceman

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jedstivers":2t1zmfju said:
I wouldn't do any of that.
I'd buy everything out of the barn in my price range that was skin and bones. Treat them better than where they came from and put 3-400 pounds on them and get them bred. Some will be bred so calve them out. Out of all of them there will be some real good ones that could be kept and the others will pay for them. That's if you wanted to keep any, you can keep turning them all and making money and buying more and making more money.
In the time it takes to grow to 200 front pasture cattle thousands upon thousands could have been made on rough stock.
But that's just me, I'm glad everyone doesn't want to to that.
Everybody can tell their selves what they want. But while their rooting around in their semen tanks, are doing things to their cows the bull should be doing. Jeb is making money. What i would add is if starting right now . put resources into improving land and infrastructure. Wait for cattle to fall.
 

Caustic Burno

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WalnutCrest":1uwg2br4 said:
This is a fun scenario I like to discuss with thoughtful people about how to build a reputable program known for having great stock. Just curious how the group here sees it.

Scenario: You start with 12 proven females you think are really great; any of whom you'd be willing to use as an embryo donor cow. They're out of four largely unrelated, fall-calving herds, where each herd is known for at least a reasonable amount of inbreeding/linebreeding. You have hands-on experience with calves and bulls out of each herd, and while there are differences between them, you're pretty much equally impressed with the quality of the cattle from each operation. Since you're spring-calving, you arranged to purchase all 12 females as open cows after they've weaned their most recent calf. Also, you start with semen on five very proven bulls of the highest quality you'd like to use as the foundation of your herd; some of the semen is really rare, some more common; all five bulls are dead and any other semen is too expensive to even consider buying -- this is all the semen you'll ever have on these five bulls. The first four bulls on the list were foundation bulls for each of the four herds you've purchased cows out of; the fifth bull is another largely-unrelated bull that you have hands on experience with and are also very impressed with. In order to kick-start your program, you're planning on AI's and embryo work to get you where you want to go ... but, due to the cost of the initial 12 females and the semen you've purchased, you only have enough money left for six attempted flushes (at 2 units of semen each), six attempted IVF procedures (at one not more than unit of semen each; you can use one unit across up to five females if you synch the at the same time) and 12 recips (confirmed bred with your to-be-created embryos), each of whom are young enough that you think you can use them in future years as recips, too. Since your 12 cows are all open, they're ready to flush/IVF/AI as soon as you'd like to start. When you've reached your goal, you will have a herd of 200 mama cows and are producing replacement females for yourself and others, and bulls for yourself and others.

The five bulls are ranked from best to worst based on your criteria (whatever the criteria might be isn't really that important for this exercise) and the number of breeding units you have to use:

Bull 1 = 35 units (foundation bull for herd 1)
Bull 2 = 5 units (foundation bull for herd 2)
Bull 3 = 15 units (foundation bull for herd 3)
Bull 4 = 20 units (foundation bull for herd 4)
Bull 5 = 150 units (this is the closest thing you have to a true 'heifer bull'; largely unrelated to the others, he's a great-great-great grandson of bulls 2 and 3)

None of the semen is already sexed.

In today's market, with current cattle prices ... how do you start your program? Do you start with flushes and do IVF later? Do you do IVF now and flush later? Both now? Both later? If you do any embryo work out of the gate, do you decide which embryos get used and which ones get frozen for future use? Do you make embryos to day and wait to use them in the future? Or, make them and use them as fast as you're able?

Do you run four different cow families, one for each of the four herds you purchased from ... or ... do you look to integrate all four groups of females into a single herd as soon as you're able?

How do you decide which calves you're going to keep for the next generation as you expand numbers? How will the criteria change once you're at capacity (200 mama cows)?

Do you use up all of your semen on your best bull before going down the list, or do you use a little of this and a little of that?

Etc.

I hope this discussion is as interesting as I think it might be...

Your trying to play a money game here, doesn't matter the breed you have nothing unique this is about selling your name.
I would make breed sales picking up select females to start a program and get known.
All you have is your name as a seedstock producer.
Seven out of ten are still salebarn material papers doesn't make it seedstock.
 

bball

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Rafter S":3iemwiz7 said:
That's my opinion, and it's guaranteed to be worth what it cost you.

Awesome! And i am letting you know now, i am borrowing it!
 

gizmom

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I got tired just reading the post much less figuring out what I would do! The truth of the matter is even with all this your five years from figuring out if you made the right decisions.

gizmom
 

bball

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jedstivers":1eh5rgnp said:
I still like my idea, I've got five more on the trailer now. 5,280 for all five and one is in 2nd stage. They will turn into 7,500-10,000 in 5-6 months.

Jackpot! Smart business right there.
 

sim.-ang.king

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Go buy every cheap cow with at least 3 good legs, 1 good eye, and 2 good teats. Then invest your money saved in a high dollar bull.

I call it the meat loaf plan, cause if it flops, at least you'll have plenty of hamburger, and a pretty bull to look at. ;-)
 
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