How Far Have We Come with Genetic Improvement?

Articles | Comments Off on How Far Have We Come with Genetic Improvement?
B W M Y Mature WT Mature HT
Ankonian Dynamo -1 8 2 13 +13 +0.1 1970
Tehama Bando 155 -.9 25 20 50 +19 +0.0 1980
Pine Drive Big Sky 6.5 30 12 43 +64 +1.7 1980
SAV Final Answer -1 60 26 103 +19 -0.3 2000

 

In the 1990’s, the term ‘Curve Bender’ became popular to mean a bull with low birth weight and high growth. We have always looked at ‘Curve Benders’ in a different way: we have always been looking for cattle that had high growth and performance, with a moderate mature size.

The first ‘Curve Bender’ for us was Tehama Bando 155. Bando was used in the Tehama herd alongside Pine Drive Big Sky. Pine Drive ranks in the top 1% for frame score (both Yearling Height and Mature Height EPD) and in the heaviest 10% for mature weight. As you would expect from the EPDs, the Pine Drive cows were really big-lots of extra pounds of cow to feed for fewer pounds of calf payweight.

We have been continuously selecting for performance with an optimal moderate cow size in mind. Moderate to us means a frame 5, 1200 pound cow as an ideal target.
When you look at the ‘direction’ we have been taking with our genetic selection, you can see that our cattle have increased performance, growth and carcass merit over the years, without changing the size of our cows.

$Beef is a Terminal Index
We’re all for creating end product value. We were involved with some of the first structured carcass sire evaluations, as well as implementing ultrasound carcass data as a selection tool well before the Angus Association adopted its use in creating carcass EPDs.

However, $Beef is ‘improved’ with increased growth, increased carcass weight and decreased backfat, all of which are antagonistic to an efficient mama cow.
One major tenet of our breeding program is to create cattle that balance production/output with maintenance/input costs.

We do select for carcass traits, and consider $Beef in relation to $Weaning and $Energy. The $EN index represents how much it costs to feed a cow, and the $W index represents what income the cow creates for a producer selling calves at weaning, in relation to her maintenance costs.