Bob Weaber – Winter Ranch Management Questions

(Bob) Hi my name is Bob Weaber, a Cow/Calf Extension Specialist. I recently participated in our Winter Ranch Management Series those meetings for beef producers here in Kansas. One of my favorite aspects of the programs is at the end we offer basically a “Stump the Specialist” segment where its a Q and A from the floor to our Extension Specialists team. And we always get some interesting questions during that time period and it provides a nice opportunity for interaction with our beef producers here in Kansas. A couple of questions came up at a recent meeting that I’d like to share with you. One of those was about the effectiveness of AI, artificial insemination synchronization program as a tool for breeding replacement heifers for their first calf. And that’s certainly a strategy that we encourage producers to implement and think about in their programs because it has a number of advantages. One of those is that you can be very precise in your AI mating decisions in which bulls you choose to minimize dystocia in those heifers first calving experience. And we know that heifers that go through and calve as first calf hiders without any difficulty have shorter postpartum intervals and a higher likelihood of re-breeding as a two year old. Synchronization programs range from simple ones, from either a two shot prostaglandin injection with heat detection and feeding MGA afterwards to induce synchronization in terms of estrus behavior, very effective program. More sophisticated ones through the use of a controlled internal drug release devise that we call a feeder, to synchronize those females estrus behavior and then you can either use estrus observation or breeding on heat with those females or fixed time AI. And those all offer a range of capabilities and utility based on expected conception rates which are typically ranged from somewhere 50 to 70 percent depending on which protocol you use. But they allow you to be very precise in sire selections and producing females that all calve in a relatively short period of time. One of the things we know in heifers is that producers like to observe those females during calving season and so providing a tight synchrony in term of breeding also provides a relatively tight synchrony in terms of calving so you can reduce labor in the springtime when your calving those calves by having them calve in a relatively short period of time. Another question that was posed to us regarding selection was how to use a variety of EPDs from different breeds. One of the tools that’s available is a table called the Across Breed EPD adjustment. That’s produced each year and released in conjunction with the Beef Improvement Federation Annual meeting. The data is complied and processed and analyzed by scientists at the US Meat Animal Meat Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. And that table basically lets you convert EPDs of animals of one breed to another breed. Typically the base is Angus, we frequently move animals from one breed to the Angus base. In many situations when producers are thinking about cross breeding systems they want to be able to convert animals of one breed to a breed besides Angus. And so I’ve produced a Cross Breed EPD Adjustment Worksheet that’s available in the Breeding and Genetics section on ksubeef.org and allows you to move EPDs from one base to any other base conveniently. So we encourage producers if they are interested in that tool to find it, again, at the Breeding and Genetics section at ksubeef.org. Another thing that’s happened over the last few months is a number of breeds have gone together and report their EPDs on a common base. Those breeds include Simmental, Red Angus, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Shorthorn, Maine Anjou and Chianina¬†as well as the Canadian equivalent of Angus, Gelbvieh and Limousin. You can use EPDs on animals from those breeds and compare them with other animals within that population without adjustment. And be aware if you’re in the bull buying market this spring and considering bulls, maybe a Simmental bull and a Gelbvieh bull, you don’t have to do anything to convert the EPDs to different bases in that decision point.

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