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Part 3: Choice of breeding

“Into markets’ 

The performance recording information is the “qualifications” of the bull. In other words, what level of education does the potential employee have and what were his marks. The performance recording information indicates whether the bull was performance recorded and in which Phases.

  • Phase A – Preweaning
  • Phase B – Post weaning
  • Phase C – Central growth test
  • Phase D – On farm growth test

It also gives the actual performance of the bull. 

Estimated Breeding Values (Ebv’s)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) is the “CV” of the bull and refers to the value of an animal for a specific trait in a breeding programme.

  • It is an estimation of the animal’s genetic ability
  • It is represented in the unit the trait was measured
  • It predicts how the future progeny of an animal within a breed will perform
  • It is based on all performance and information on relatives available
  • They are relative to each other and expressed relative to a base year

A person’s CV can change over time and should always be updated. Similarly, a bull’s EBV’s can change over time as more information become available and the latest breeding values should always be used.

General guidelines on how breeding values can be used in selection are available, but will not be discussed in this article. It is important to note that objectives may be different for different conditions and that breeding values should be utilized as such.

Identifying bulls meeting your breeding objectives

This is the process where you “shortlist” the potential bulls using the information available from the registration certificate, performance recording and EBV’s.

Ask for the sale catalogue up front and look at the performance information and EBV’s of the bulls on the catalogue. It is also important to look at the performance of relatives (age at 1st calving and inter calving period of dam). In the case of a private sale ask for the information. Identify the bulls that meet your requirements and only look at these bulls.

Look at the Bulls you have Identified (Visual Appraisal)

This is when you conduct an “interview” with the shortlisted bulls. An employer will not interview someone that is not on his shortlist of candidates. So do not look at bulls that you have not shortlisted, since this will only confuse you if you see a bull that you like, but that you did not shortlist.

 Concentrate on the following functional efficiency traits when you look at the bull”

  • Masculinity (imbalance of testosterone)
  • Scrotum
  • Sheath
  • Hooves
  • The rump
  • The legs and pasterns
  • Temperament

Purchase the Bull

Now you are ready to make “an offer of appointment” for the bull. Remember that you may not succeed in buying your first choice, but there may be other options if you have shortlisted more than one bull. An employer should never appoint someone that cannot do the job. So never buy a bull that that does not meet your requirements.

Table 4 summarizes the reasons for buying a bull by the different sectors that was determined through a national survey. 

 Table 4: Reasons for choosing a bull by the different sectors. 

SectorCommunalEmergingCommercial
Reason%%%
Performance18.930.333.2
Conformation22.019.311.1
Temperament7.29.29.8
Size33.123.58.8
Availability11.011.58.4
Colour3.22.55.7
Horns4.63.60.4

Go to Another Sale / Breeder

An Employer will re-advertise a job when none of the suitable candidates accept the offer of appointment. If you are a dedicated stud or commercial beef cattle farmer you will go to another sale / breeder if you cannot buy any of the bulls that meet your requirements.

This article was authored by Prof Michiel Scholtz of the ARC-Animal Production Institute, Private Bag X2, Irene, 0062, SOUTH AFRICA, Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, University of OFS, P O Box 339, Bloemfontein, 9300, SOUTH AFRICA.

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