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One Last Sway-backed Debate

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greenwillowhereford II

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As I understand it, a high tailset is linked to calving difficulties or trouble "cleaning out." As a swayback is invariably accompanied by a high tailset, that should be reason alone to cull against extreme examples of swayback. Furthermore, Herefordsire, I suppose you could breed the sway until their bellies dragged the ground. Do you think that would advance the cause of cattledom? I speak partially in jest, so don't take offense at me, OK?
 

KNERSIE

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For the sake of finishing what I started I'll make on more post on this subject and after that I'm done.

I can see this happening more in the loin area where the spine has no rib structure to help support it.
Isn,t the loin and lumbar the same?

Novatech has it correct, when I asked what you see between the 12th rib and the pelvis, the answer is simple. Nothing. There is no skeletal structure supporting the spine making it the weakest point in the bovine spine. Add to this that the weight of the pregnancy and the full rumen is carried directly under this unsupported area its easy to understand why cattle break down here.

Why do you suppose mother nature allowed the loin area (lower spine) to be unsupported by ribs? Population control?

I was hoping to get this response... Indeed why did mother nature make such an obvious design flaw?

Again not too difficult an answer, look at photos of a cheetah at full speed, his spine will be completely arched up when his feet are together and hyperextended when he's stretched out in mid stride. Without this unsupported area there simply won't be the flexibility needed for mobility.

Another reason is because the rumen need room to expand with the forage consumed, especially if its low quality mature or dead grass and also to accomodate the gasses that form as a byproduct of ruminant digestion. If there was ribcage in this area the rumen could only expand forward putting pressure on the other internal organs. The same applies for the growing foetus in a pregnancy.

The reasons are clear why there can't be skeletal support at the bottom of the spine, but surely there must be support? And this is where it all falls into place. The spine is supported on the top by the bovine Longisimmus Dorsi muscle, or the eye muscle in simpler terms. A strong top indicates a strong bovine longisimmus dorsi muscle and strength of muscle is directly related to its circumference. In humans weight training make you stronger and your muscles bigger, same applies to cattle.

So by selecting for a straight level topline you are selecting for a more pronounced bovine longisimmus dorsi muscle, this muscle is measured at the 12th rib to determine REA. So by selecting for a good top you are also selecting for REA and get longevity as a bonus. All this you've just achieved without even looking at an EPD. OWT, witchcraft, peasant wisdom, call it what you like, if you're willing to really try and understand how the bovine anatomy works alot falls into place with just common sense.

Lastly, do you know why there is a REA EPD and not a topline EPD?
The simple answer is the REA is easily quantifiable and can easily be used in the matrix used to calculate EPDs. Its not the case with toplines.

Herefordsire, I hope you are satisfied with my explanation, I shall not make any further posts on this subject.
 

backhoeboogie

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These discussions are good to stay out of :D

If you take all the personal assaults out of these threads (on this subject) there has been some really good points made.

In the end, most all of us have a goal of making the most nickels, in our individual climates, for the animals we raise. As such, we want healthy, climatized, low maintenance animals we can market and animals that most buyers want to bid on as a whole. We want to produce the most pounds on our forage for the highest bids.

What works for some may not work for others. There are many cases in point on these forums.

Please keep the discussions productive as I am somewhat enjoying the points made by everyone.
 

Onthebit

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I think I finally get what y'all are talking about. Here are 3 pictures of cows I have. The first one is a 2 yr old whom the critics around here says is the best, but looking at the picture, she has a very weak topline..This pic is taken a day after she calved so I don't know if that makes a dif. or not.
View attachment 2
This cow is much better. An 11 yr old. (Cannot get this pic to upload. Tried saving it in several formats and it absolutely won't load. Wierd eh?)
This one the best,
View attachment 1
Here is the bull I am using. I think he has a great topline.


Any comments? Am I getting it right finally?
 

dun

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The one thing to remember is it isn;t any one thing, it's the animal in total. It starts with the feet and extends all the way up through the over all structure. Then you need the udder and attachment (scrotal and nuts on a bull) and capacity, how they move, width of muzzle, eye set, muscle, etc. Since there are no perfect animals, you have to be willing to sacrafice something along the line. I am unwilling to sacrafice structure, that's my first cut, then I look at the other attributes of the individual
 

bward

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A different slant to it. I consider cattle with drooped backs not a lack of muscle in all cases, but more of a condition of having a looser type of connective tissue. These animals will exhibit a looser, longer stride, and have a boggy appearance when fed out. To me, the tighter and straighter the back, the more tough connective tissue in the meat.
Just my opinion.
 

Limomike

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A really good informative post. I have shipped two angus over the past year, because of that "sway-back" in each of them. I just dont want that in my herd. Never really knew what was the exact cause, but now I know. Thanks.
 

HerefordSire

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Authored by Harlan Ritchie (see page 10)...this appears to be basic stuff so I will try to find more information. I thought the following was interesting because Knersie shows to be from South Africa. By the way Knerise, elegant explanation...TY...My quest for knowledge has not been satified yet...in regards to swayed back bovines...the truth is all I am after...nothing more and nothing less. Not trying to be hard headed...the info provided so far doesn't fit my self set criteria.

....................................................The Topline

Cattle breeders in North America prefer a topline (spinal column) that has the following appearance:
1. As viewed from the side, a strong, level back, loin and rump and a flat tailhead.
2. As viewed from behind, a square rump with wide pinbones.
In South Africa and several other countries, researchers and breeders take issue with North Americans on their evaluation of the topline.

Rump and Tailhead
As noted above, the majority of North American cattle breeders and judges prefer a flat, level, square rump. However, South African animal scientists (Maree, 1977; McFarlane, 1976) content that a slightly sloping rump, whereby the pinbones are lower than the hipbones, is conducive to greater ease of calving. They have concluded that, as you reduce the vertical opening the cow has for calving; that is, you lessen the distance between the pelvic floor and the base of the tail. Some North Americans have accepted this concept but many others have not.

A tailhead that is set too far up into the rump is considered undesirable. In females, this condition is sometimes associated with a vulva that slants forward, which is not desirable from a hygienic and/or fertility standpoint.

Loin and Back
It had been suggested by South African scientists that weakness in the spine, just ahead of the hip, will cause difficulty in the birth of the fetus. This defect, coupled with high pinbones, may compound the calving problem. It would appear that nearly all breeders can agree that strength in this area (loin) is desirable. North Americans insist on a strong, straight spinal column all the way from the hipbones to the top of the shoulder. A weak or sagging back is more aesthetic than functional, however.

(WARNING: .pdf format)
http://www.highlandcattleusa.org/images ... _Cover.pdf
 

HerefordSire

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I am getting closer but still no firm evidence in the relationship between longevity and top line. However, the following data is interesting and closely related.



Phenotypic relationships between longevity, type traits, and production in Chianina beef cattle1

Abstract
Longevity is an increasingly important trait in beef cattle. Increased longevity decreases costs for the farmer and increases revenue. The objective of this research was to investigate the phenotypic relationship between type traits and longevity in Chianina beef cattle, and the relationship between production and longevity, to analyze the effect of voluntary culling. Data included records on reproductive, productive, and type traits provided by the National Association of Italian Beef Cattle Breeders from 6,395 Chianina cows. The average length of productive life was 1,829 d. The herd-year had a strong effect on the risk of culling. The effects of 22 type traits were analyzed. All the muscularity traits analyzed were highly significant (P < 0.01) and as a group had the largest effect on longevity, followed by dimension, refinement, and leg traits. Cows that calved before 35 mo of age had a lower probability of being culled than cows calving after 35 mo of age. Variation in herd size had a strong effect on risk ratio, with lower risk for intermediate classes. Cows with approximately one calf per year remained in the herd longer than did cows with fewer calves. Straight-legged animals had a 59% greater probability of being replaced than cows with a moderate angle to the hock, whereas sickle-legged animals had only a 3% higher probability of being culled than average cows. Udder conformation had no effect on longevity. In summary, results of this study indicate that herd-year effects and muscularity traits were the most important factors for longevity for Chianina cows among the factors studied.


In the following paragraph, the text refers to table 2 showing the measured traits, one of which is Top Line. You can view these by clinking on the the link following the paragraph:

Type Traits
Beef cattle in Italy are evaluated for 26 traits, of which 22 are scored on a linear scale. The linear traits are described in Table 2. They consist of eight traits for muscle development, seven traits for body size, two traits for structure, two traits for refinement, and one udder trait, each evaluated on a linear scale from 1 (very bad) to 5 (very good). Six traits with intermediate optima describing leg conformation are scored from 1 (very bad) to 3 (optimum), and again with 5 as very bad. Scoring is performed by breed experts who score all first- and second-parity animals present in each herd. In this analysis, an average of 9.2 cows per herd were evaluated. For this study, only cows with complete type information were included. When cows were scored more than once, only the first conformation score was used.

http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/full/82/6/1572/T2



Further down in the download, in the Discussions section, you will find a couple of sentences such as:

"No general trends were observed for the traits associated with structure and leg........"

...and

"Traits that show a moderate effect on longevity, such as the legs and refinement traits, suggest that beef producers do not consider these traits as very important for their culling policy."

http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/full/82/6/1572
 

Brandonm22

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Their experiences with Chianinas are similar to what I have observed. If my math is right they only stayed in the herd about 5 years on average. That is almost dairy cow bad. They either are just selling cows real early to make room for new genetics or they can't shovel enough groceries into those mammoth mamas to get them rebred. I wouldn't expect the topline or the feet and legs to get to be real serious problems on cattle that young. Once that first calf is out of the way and that young cow gets rebred, the vast majority of cows are going too hold up to age 8 or 9. When we talk about longevity, we really are talking about how many calves can she have after age 7. This is also a really hard study to do properly. It is really hard too seperate structure from performance. Did a cow come up open because she is a little post legged so can't get around quite as well as the other cows, thus she isn't in as good a condition, thus her calf is a little lighter than the rest, and maybe she didn't get settled? Why was she culled on your little card? Open? Suboptimal mothering ability? low condition score? or bad rear wheels? Structure is just so much silliness until it affects performance.
 

HerefordSire

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Brandonm22":3b94nw3j said:
Their experiences with Chianinas are similar to what I have observed. If my math is right they only stayed in the herd about 5 years on average. That is almost dairy cow bad. They either are just selling cows real early to make room for new genetics or they can't shovel enough groceries into those mammoth mamas to get them rebred. I wouldn't expect the topline or the feet and legs to get to be real serious problems on cattle that young. Once that first calf is out of the way and that young cow gets rebred, the vast majority of cows are going too hold up to age 8 or 9. When we talk about longevity, we really are talking about how many calves can she have after age 7. This is also a really hard study to do properly. It is really hard too seperate structure from performance. Did a cow come up open because she is a little post legged so can't get around quite as well as the other cows, thus she isn't in as good a condition, thus her calf is a little lighter than the rest, and maybe she didn't get settled? Why was she culled on your little card? Open? Suboptimal mothering ability? low condition score? or bad rear wheels? Structure is just so much silliness until it affects performance.


I wonder how much pressure Donetto's pregnant ladies had on their lower spine when they carried full term.

Chianina are characterised by white hair and a black switch. They have black skin pigmentation. Chianina are heat tolerant and have a gentle disposition. They are the largest breed in size, bulls generally standing 6 feet (1.8m) tall and weighing up to 3,836 lbs. The cows stand at 5 feet (1.5 m) or so and weighing in at up to 2,400 lbs. The world record for the heaviest bull was 1,740 kg (3,836 lb) for Chianina named Donetto, when he was exhibited at the Arezzo show in 1955.[3]

They are used in breeding programs for their growth rate, high quality meat and heat tolerance. They are also great foragers. Chianina are also tolerant to disease and insects to a greater degree than many other domesticated cattle. Thanks to these qualities the Chianina breed is present in many countries like Brazil where there are many thousands.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chianina
 

brandonm_13

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It may just be me, but I don't care how sway backed an animal is if it breeds every year. Consequently, I don't care how straight backed a cow is if she doesn't produce a calf. From my experience, we need to try to stay away from extemes on both ends of the spectrum. Aside from that, put them on grass, and you will see which does better. Besides, part of the equation that no one thinks about it the will of the animal. I've seen perfectly normal animals fail to breed, and then I've seen bull calves stand on a high spot and throw themselves at cows too tall for them to breed. I guess my point is some cows will do fine with flaws, and some flawless cows will never be worth more than packaged meat walking around.
 

dun

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brandonm_13":1x5k07yo said:
It may just be me, but I don't care how sway backed an animal is if it breeds every year. Consequently, I don't care how straight backed a cow is if she doesn't produce a calf. From my experience, we need to try to stay away from extemes on both ends of the spectrum. Aside from that, put them on grass, and you will see which does better. Besides, part of the equation that no one thinks about it the will of the animal. I've seen perfectly normal animals fail to breed, and then I've seen bull calves stand on a high spot and throw themselves at cows too tall for them to breed. I guess my point is some cows will do fine with flaws, and some flawless cows will never be worth more than packaged meat walking around.

That's where culling comes in. Select agains structural weakness and for fertility and calf raising ability.
 

brandonm_13

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That's kinda my point. If you take away the grain crutch, the animals will show you who to cull very quickly. :nod:
 

dun

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brandonm_13":hv30rwih said:
That's kinda my point. If you take away the grain crutch, the animals will show you who to cull very quickly. :nod:

Correct, but why start with a potential problem when it can be avoided?
 

novatech

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I would like to see some picks of some old (15 yrs. plus) sway back cows still in good flesh, produceing a calf per year.
 

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