A good bull will throw calves that will do better on the very same forage as calves from a poor bull. Pretty obviously good calves will do better on good pasture, but so will poor calves. If you have poor pasture you have even more reason to get a bull that makes better calves.
Not if you have moderate to low milkers and forage that averages only 8% over the year. Seen places that average 12-14% back east. High powered bulls make more sense there or in a feedlot with controlled feeding, IMO.
Genetics aren’t as simple as people make them sound. From what I can glean, how well your calves do at the sale barn depend on how soil, forage, your grazing/fert methods, climate, health management, supplements, calving luck/management (fall calves are lighter than spring because of interaction with climate and gestation biology, but average larger weaning weights, etc.), commodities markets like corn and soybean and hay harvest, who happens to be at the sale barn (did northern buyers come down that day for one last round before fall is too close to winter and thin-hides cattle can’t be fed up there anymore etc.), size of your herd, and one’s own astuteness on analyzing all of it together under a model that makes sense for your personal operation (pounds per acre/percentage of cow weight weaned/weaning weight, etc). Lots of variables there, only one of which is genetics.
And genetics seem to be a pretty fickle variable. Was surprised to find out that maternal traits tend to not be very heritable. And they haven’t figured out how inutero climate stimuli affect the calf after birth. Have to be many more issues as well.
My favorite quote I found on this one was that there is more variability within a breed on genetics than across breeds (if I didn’t get it wrong
So I tend to be cautious on belief in paying for genetics for a small herd. With all those factors, and the huge expense of genetics (other than knowing the look of crosses at the barn and working on genetics that way), I feel like the small producer is almost guaranteed to lose money if he/she doesn't focus on those other variables/factors first.
But, I’m a newb when it comes to real-world experience, so I’m willing to let the market teach me new things. Looking forward to changing my mind about things and even being surprised sometimes if the price of the learning is at least breakeven.
Thanks for the response. Fun discussion.