An Average Angus Steer

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For the longest time, I did not know or believe that “composition has the greatest impact on functional reproductivity”.  Now that I have met Leonhardt and studied Bonsma, I understand that the most valuable thing I can do as a breeder is to select and stabilize a good maternal type.  Realizing that “production values are self-governed by the environment”, I have stopped selecting for more growth and instead I let those values fall where they may.  Our EPD’s are stabilizing somewhat below breed average and I worry at times that my customers will lose too much performance.  People often ask me, “If you calved in March, what would your weaning weights be?” and the truth is I don’t know.  So I have watched the steer pictured above with interest.  He was born March 13, 2008 with an 84 pound birth weight.  His EPD’s are +2.1 birth, +20 weaning, +34 yearling, and +16 milk.  His $#EN is +20.94 and $WN is+19.59.  He is slightly inbred with a coefficient of 8.66%.  His ancestry is full of fertile, feminine cows that lasted and worked.  He was wintered through some bitter cold and nasty spring blizzards with nothing but winter range and a protein tub.  With all this in mind, I was pleased when we weighed him off grass, on August 5, 2009, and he weighed 946#.  What’s more, I think he can go on to the feedlot and continue to gain and carry enough weight to be profitable for the next guy.  I expect he will grid quite well because this kind usually does.  All this to say that if you want a low-cost, straight-bred system, my experience is that performance will be adequate and certainly the inputs will be lower with this type.  Maternal values can also be consistently excellent if selection is for proper conformation and production values are in line with the environment.

From a terminal perspective he’s easy to criticize.  We could want him to be more muscular, or higher marbling,  more volume/appetite, or larger framed. Perhaps we might like him to be smaller framed and earlier maturing if we wanted to grass finish him.  Clearly there are any number of genetic changes we could make to have the resulting steer top whatever terminal market we are aiming for.  However any one of these changes would likely have disastrous effects on the maternal conformation represented by the dams in his pedigree.

The only way I know to have “more” of whatever terminal characteristics are desired is to break the genetics up into maternal and terminal parts.

Therefore, there are two excellent genetic systems available, both of which are being completley ignored by the entire industry.

The first is a straight-bred maternal system.  Very profitable because it is simple, low-input, consistent, and produces average steers and excess high quality breeding females.

The second would utilize just enough maternal bulls to provide replacement heifers.  With proper maternal selection replacement females rates can be very low.  The rest of the cow herd can then be mated to produce for whatever market is desired.   This is the only way I know that you can have your cake and eat it too.


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I promised to post a picture of M C C LOGAN and here it is.  I’m not satisifed with the quality of these shots and I hope to get a better one in the next few weeks.  Where have you heard that before? I like this bull.  He is going to be used to breed our heifers.  Time will tell.  Gregg Matney ran a complete Igenity profile on the bull and he scored really well across the board.


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JAD LAD S6306 is the combination of two of our very best cows.  His paternal granddam is Shoshone Prudence 6157 and his Dam is Shoshone Frances 6306.  The two middle pictures were taken late in the Fall of 2008 and the first and last pictures were taken in late July of 2009.  He is siring a lot of performance.  His sons will be some of the best growth bulls offered in our fall sale.   We are keeping one of his first sons, to use as a herd bull.  His name is JAD FX-UR38.  Notice that 6306 is the granddam on the top and bottom.  You can look at her picture and pedigree on our “COWS” page.  I have limited first hand experience with the cows in the pedigree beyond 6157 and 6306 but as near as I can tell both bulls have nothing but outstandingly good females behind them.  I think it’s interesting that neither one of these bulls offered much individuality as young bulls.  My selection of them was based entirely on the strength of the cows behind them.   We have a full brother to Lad S6306 that we call JAD FX T6306.  The two brothers will work side by side to breed our cow herd and increase the influence of Shoshone Frances 6306.  She also produced a bull by JAD JUANADA RUT RM84 that will be for sale this fall and she has a bull calf on her now whose parentage DNA results should be back any day.  Now if she would just produce a few more daughters.

The Embyos are Coming! The Embryos are Coming!

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So far we have had 2 heifers and a bull by Horse Butte 1126 of 3128 X Shoshone Prudence 6157.  That gives us a grand total of 6 females and a bull by this mating.  We also have a heifer by Friars of Wye X 6157.  She is a full sister to our M C C LOGAN bull.  Finally we have had an outstanding bull by Shoshone Felix 6310 J O D.

There are a few more recip cows springing up so hopefully we’ll get a few more calves out of this wonderful 18 year old cow.

Ode to Extra

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N Bar Extra B310 A144

N Bar Extra B310 A144 was the first herd bull I ever bought.  On November 28, 1995, my Dad and I drove to Grass Range, Montana for the 48th Annual Fall Production Sale at N Bar Ranch.  He was Lot #2 and even though I had crossed him out in my catalog, when I got there and sorted through the bulls he became my first choice.  He is pretty tightly bred, by an EXT son crossed on an EXT daughter.  His maternal great- grandmother is N Bar Primrose 9962 and she is also EXT’s maternal grandmother.  His mother and grandmother are both pathfinders and his mother has served as a featured donor for Sinclair Cattle Company.

I could not have asked for a better  foundation bull than Extra.  He excelled at calving ease, disposition, and productive daughters.  His steers fed and finished well and I know he was a sire of marbling from the little bit of work that we have done in that area.

Jeff Ward at Sinclair Cattle Company has purchased our remaining inventory of semen so Extra will end up his career as an A.I. sire working on the same “N Bar Legacy” cows that he originated from.  We have a nice group of bull calves out of Extra that will be available for sale in the Fall of 2009.


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We rotationally graze our pastures and depending on the size of pasture and time of year the cows are moved as often as every day.  This is good for the grass but sometimes causes bad behavior in the cows.  For the past 4 weeks they have been grazing a larger pasture on the West side of the ranch.  On the very North edge is an old wheat field that has been planted into grass and the cows have just camped there waiting to be moved to the next pasture.  There is a lot of good grass on the rugged South end of the pasture that they have not been willing to explore because there has not been any water there.  When the fire came through in 2006 it burned out the fences and gave us a chance to change the fence line and include a water gap on the far South side so that we could get better utilization of the grass in that area.  So yesterday Kurt and I drove the cows to the water gap and then settled them on the fresh grass.  They seemed happy.  We’ll see how many are back on the old field this morning.