Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Selecting a Good Mate

When you were a teenager, did you ever think that it would be totally awesome to hand- pick your spouse from a catalog full of hunky males, or slender super models? What if the catalog was organized by traits, and you could select the features that were the most important to you and choose from among the top suitors in each of those categories? Well, we don't get to choose our spouse that way, but I'm in the process of choosing a suitor for my bovine gals. It's a tough decision, but this guy is looking like he may be the one!!

Isn't he a hunk of a bull?
His name is "In Focus"

This year we've decided to artificially inseminate our heifers instead of throwing them in with a calving ease bull for breeding.  I've been pouring over the ABS Global catalog to make my  sire selection, and I've got to tell's a bit exhilarating! I love genetics!

During my college years, I raised hundreds of yearling bulls at the ranch for a large bull sale every spring.  I LOVED raising bulls, and all of the genetic study that goes with it. For months, we would feed and care for the bulls, and then  take semen samples, scrotal circumferences, and perform other tests on them. We would add the results to their other statistics, and those of their mothers including birth weight, calving ease, etc. Then we would catalog the bulls EPDs for sale day. Because my Animal Science degree had an emphasis on large animals (livestock), I'm a bit of an EPD freak!  I love looking at an animal's genetic potential.

For the 99.7% of my readers that have no clue what I'm talking about,  EPD stands for Estimated Progeny Difference, and it's a record of what a bull's genetics will potentially add to your herd.  There are a number of things to consider when selecting a bull and your choice has the potential to increase the value and quality of your cattle and increase profit margins.  Traits like birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, milk production, ribeye size, scrotal circumference, and carcass weight all come into play when choosing a bull.

Right now you are thinking, " Nell, Who cares about all of this?"

I do!

Alright, I'm done talking about things that you don't really care about.  What's important to know in layman's terms, is that this bull has got it goin' on! He's among the "Best of the Best" of Angus bulls.  He'll throw light weight calves so we don't have to worry as much about our heifers calving next spring.  His babies grow up to be medium sized, wide, and heavily muscled.  His sons are docile, and his daughters are good mothers.  He's quite a catch! So are his sons! Maybe we'll choose one of them instead.  Or maybe we'll go with someone else. I just can't decide.

 Wouldn't it be awesome if all of the young men who proposed marriage to your daughters came with an EPD?  Then you would know if the guy was a keeper, or not.

"I'm sorry boy, but according to your records, there is a high probability that if you marry my daughter, she will have to have a C-section, and my grand kids will be scrawny and ill-tempered.  It's best if you just move along."

Ha Ha! Totally Kidding!

I'm so thankful that God has a perfect spouse that is uniquely suited for each of my children.  They must each love the Lord with all of their heart, but beyond that, only the Lord knows the perfect combination of traits that will make for a good marriage.

I think I'll save my match-making skills for the livestock on this outfit, and leave the big stuff to God.  Besides, we've got a few years before we have to worry about suitors around here.  My girls still think that boys are totally weird, and my son says, "ALL girls have cooties".

1 comment:

  1. We spend a lot of time looking at ABS and other catalogues too for our Dairy Herd. We do AI on 95% of them. That was my favourite part, picking out the best straw for my girls when breeding time comes. Only we focus on Udders and Milk Quality : )