Linear Measurement

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mayesfarm

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Has anyone tried the system the Gerald Fry, Jan Bosma and a few others have used over the years called linear measurement? If so I am curious as to whether the traits that they measure pass on from one generation to the next. I have read a few of the books written on the subject and really like the idea of measuring something that I can see with my own eyes. From my limited research, it looks like several of the breed associations, especially in other countries use some variation of this method.
http://www.bovineengineering.com/linera_meas.html
I find this very interesting, there is a ton of information out there. I would really like to hear about some practical, long term experience.
 

Backbone Ranch

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We did a little bit of linear measuring, just for the heck of it, almost 10 years ago. I will be honest and say that it was kind of neat to see how the individuals in the herd compared against one another, but we have not used it since. An animal with a deeper heart girth tends to have a greater rumen capacity, and will fare better on grass than an animal that is pinched. The numbers can help you identify that if you are new to raising cattle and still trying to develop an eye of what to look for, but I would not use them exclusively for selecting replacement individuals. In my opinion, a lot of other factors such as the cow's past performance record, the calf being born early in the season, birth weight, growth, udder attachments of the dam, etc. play a much larger role in our selection criteria.
 

gcreekrch

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A friend of mine went to a Gerald Fry presentation years ago. During question period my friend asked Mr. Fry where he lived as he wanted to see a herd of perfect grass genetics cows. Mr. Fry’s reply was that he didn’t own any cattle........
Experts make money in many ways......
 

Wind and Sage

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I went to a two day clinic about 12 or 13 years ago with Mr. Fry. It was interesting, mostly useful in looking at the differences in hair as related to gland health. He was living in Arkansas at the time, and spent a lot of time pushing 4 frame cattle. Here in Wyoming, that was generally a little too small. To his credit, he saw that as well in terms of Wyoming high desert environment, as opposed to the elevation and different feeds in Arkansas, and changed his mind that 5 frame cattle were probably better for this area. The linear measurement was interesting, but too labor intensive for me if you have a larger herd. My biggest take away was the heart girth and rib capacity on a cow. I felt I needed to make some improvements in that area in my own herd, which I have managed to improve on in the past several years.

I really like Bonsma's work, and would probably recommend his book more than Mr. Fry. Most of Bonsma's work applies to African cattle which is a much different climate than Wyoming, but there is quite a bit that is useful and can be translated over to our environment.
 

Nkline

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Heart girth is easy to improve, and largely overlooked, it is the best way to improve depth in cattle. It’s good to view cattle as skeletons, and select skeletal traits. Then view muscle and fat, and breed towards complete animals.
 

gcreekrch

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Bonsma was real. Fry was a mathematician. If you want to learn, study Bonsma. Bonsma bred for real cattle. Fry selected for puds.

You can overplay linear measurements and miss the easier and maybe the better things to see on the cattle.
Had a friend who managed an 1800 head operation for 40 years and then his son took over and ran it another 35 before retiring. Their theory when working cattle horseback was that if a cow critter had a good back the rest of the animal fit with it. Talk about uniformity!
 

andybob

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A friend of mine went to a Gerald Fry presentation years ago. During question period my friend asked Mr. Fry where he lived as he wanted to see a herd of perfect grass genetics cows. Mr. Fry’s reply was that he didn’t own any cattle........
Experts make money in many ways......
Johann Zietsman is possibly the best geneticist presently available. He is a practicing rancher, and comes from a family which have ranched cattle in southern Africa for generations. Having qualified under Professor Jan Bonsma, and turned down the offer to join his team, he has worked on developing hardy, grass based genotypes, and refined the high density grazing system adopted by holistic managed ranches. Johann has several published articles, a good. informative book, and a video of one of his workshops on youtube.
 

Wind and Sage

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Heart girth is easy to improve, and largely overlooked, it is the best way to improve depth in cattle. It’s good to view cattle as skeletons, and select skeletal traits. Then view muscle and fat, and breed towards complete animals.
I like the analogy of view the cow as a skeleton. I do that on structure for herd bulls, trying to avoid weak backed bulls, and also do that when looking at structure related to calving ease. I hadn't translated viewing the cow as a skeleton beyond that. It is a very helpful way of saying it. Thanks!
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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Most people could really benefit from the understanding of the bovine skeleton. It's really worth it to actually spend some time just watching your animals on pasture. Watch how they move, watch how they stand. Forget numbers and genotype, condition and color. Just study, with an objective eye and learn to see what lies beneath. Like or hate the show ring, watching hundreds of animals and really studying them when you have zero other information on them at hand, really trains a person to perceive them as nothing but bones to start with. This is the same approach I take in "judging" any stock, be it cattle, horses, goats, or even cattle dogs.
 

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