South Dakota Rancher Uses Artificial Insemination and GeneMax Testing to Improve His Cow HerdTue, 18 Apr 2017 15:08:35 CDT
When South Dakota rancher Troy Hadrick and his cousins took over management of the family cow herd from their fathers’ generation, they set their sights on improving carcass quality.
“I didn't even know quite where we were in our carcass genetics because we hadn't retained ownership before,” Hadrick said. “That became a focus of the AI bulls that we were using, which obviously meant we were focusing a lot on the EPDs that the Angus Association puts together. We started selecting for that. Started changing our AI program to where we were AI-ing all the heifers and the cows, every cow in the place was getting that done now. We hadn't been able to do that before. We were able to track what happened when we started using the better genetics that were shown and proven to improve carcass ability or carcass traits.”
Three years’ worth of carcass data shows a jump from 90% Choice and zero Primes, up to all Choice and higher--80 percent of them qualifying for the Certified Angus Beef brand and 20 percent Primes.
“It was really amazing to me. I really thought it would take us at least 10 to 12 years to get to that point,” he admitted. “When we used the GeneMax data, and combined it with an AI program that focused on those traits, we were able to accomplish it in about three to four years.”
The switch to A-I came first, as the way to get better genetics in more females. Then came the genomic testing.
“What I decided was I was going to have this year where I had genomic data, and then I had carcass data, and was going to give me a chance to apply it back and see if it matched up,” Hadrick explained. “After that first year, we got both those sets of data. We put them next to each other, and it became very obvious that they matched. It was really exciting then because like, "Wow, we can really use this for our roadmap." As we tracked what those cattle are worth as we move through the years now, we've added the calves that we would killed that first year versus where we're at now, we've added over $5 per 100 weight in value to those carcasses hanging on the rail.”
But what has marbling emphasis done to the cow herd? Hadrick keeps track of pregnancy rate, mature size and other measures, too.
“All of the numbers tell us that we haven't really given anything up, but the traits that pay us a lot more at the end, which is marbling, have increased a lot,” he said. “We've made our cattle more valuable by using these technologies.”
Seeing how it pays, the long-term cow herd goal is to get as many C-A-Bs and Primes as possible.
Read more about Hadrick and his calves at www.BlackInkWithCAB.com. He is currently part of the “Following the calves” blog series, where the team files regular updates, following animals from ranch to rail.
To watch a video clip featuring Troy Hadrick, of Faulkton, S.D., talk about how he’s used artificial insemination (AI) and GeneMax testing to improve his cow herd and their offspring, click or tap the PLAYBOX below.
Source - Certified Angus Beef
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