Tracking Angus Maternal Traits Key Driver of ProfitabilityTue, 26 Jan 2016 12:08:50 CST
A profitable cowherd begins with efficient females that produce high-quality calves. Thatís why many Angus breeders turn to MaternalPlus to give their customerís information they need to make effective genetic selection decisions. Kansas seedstock producer Matt Perrier relies on keeping up-to-date records and modern tools to keep maternal and carcass traits cohesive within his herd.
"Well, the old adage, Ďwe canít manage what we donít measure,í still holds true today," Perrier said. "Thatís what proved to all of us through the eighties, nineties, and two thousands that EPDs--whether it be weaning weight or yearling weight, carcass EPDs, milk, whatever the case may be--they truly are the gold standard today in selecting cattle. We, as a breed, have not historically submitted the maternal side of things, largely because weíve always felt like our breed is very maternal-focused, it still is, but in any breed, there are going to be differences, and I think itís important that we characterize those and we measure those and then we select for cattle that do a very good job of getting bred early in the season, staying bred, and raising that calf to weaning it."
Breed improvements depend on many cattlemen finding value in the data.
"Well, the fertility complex of traits is the driver of profitability," Perrier said. "Doesnít matter if itís a registered seedstock herd or a commercial cow/calf operation--reproductive efficiency is the driver of profit. Unfortunately, itís a fairly lowly-heritable trait, and so we have to have a lot of data from a lot of different herds and a lot of different environments to really get some good selection tools like EPDs and indexes, and thatís what weíre trying to gather through MaternalPlus."
ďStick with the programĒ is the mantra Perrier suggests for those just getting started.
"I think the first is just the decision that you are going to be in it for the long haul," Perrier said. "Youíre not going to automatically sell your next calf crop for more money simply because you put your cows on MaternalPlus. Itís going to be a very long-term proposition, but itís one that I think that we can all agree thatís important enough that itís worth doing."
For more information on MaternalPlus, contact the American Angus Association or visit www.angus.org.
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