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Heritability of phenotype.

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
Amo
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Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:49 pm

Well its bull buying season, and Im browsing the catalogs. The general rule of thumb is to buy a bull that looks awesome. Which I get. I think its also the traditional thought process. We would shop for looks cause thats all we had before we had "data". So I have often wondered how important is phenotype. I like to buy say the bottom end of a flush brother. Say 3 out of a flush. The top 2 might be $7-8000 then Ill buy the 3rd one will be $3K for example. So thats what Id buy. I do ai, but you can pick a good bull as easily as a bad one with ai.

So I had pasture this summer next to a kid who bought some bred heifers from his boss. They have AIed for years. Genetics come from the cow as much as the bull. They also spend good money on bulls, and he puts phenotype ahead of numbers. Ive bought heifers from him as well. They have good cattle. Well I watched this kids pairs across the fence when Id go to check my cows. Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side. Over the summer I had kinda convinced myself that I need to pay more attention to phenotype and maybe spend more on bulls.

One person told me that flush brothers are like your own siblings...DNA is all the same, but everyone looks different. Then I got to thinking about Final Answer 2. IMHO, IDK if Final Answer or N Bar EXT were a phenotypical stand outs. Yet their clones are so ugly, they cant post a picture of them in the catalog! So I guess my question is how heritable is phenotype? Yes, it transmits down. Yes, you need to buy more than just a pair to make a calf. How much of a premium do you spend on looks vs. numbers or carcass data? Ive never felt the need to compete against the neighbors for sexiest bull contest. Feed creates bucket muscle and inturpulates EPD's/carcass data.

I guess after watching my neighbors cattle and knowing it comes from the bull and the cow....I had kinda convinced myself that I need to be looking for a front end bull instead of trying to buy a sleeper thats a bargin but still respectable. After thinking about the previous paragraph, Im starting to question my logic.

Amo
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:12 pm

Yes, I realize full sibs would have the same mother vs flush having recips. Some recips better than others etc. Im also talking about the same contemporory group. Not different herds.

Guess at the end of the day...if I drop 10K on a bull thats a stud, what are the odds that he will transmit his studliness to his calves? I realize some sire groups are more consistant that others. I don't need to compete with the neighbors for the hottest looking bull.

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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Faster horses » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:59 pm

I can only tell you what Larry Leonhardt told us at one time. He is the founder of Shearbrook Angus ranch and probably knew more
about Angus genetics than any one in the USA. He got off the performance wagon in 1979. Prior to that he was buying the highest gaining bulls at the bull tests. He said it ruined his cowherd. He bred a son to his mother, called the bull Echo, to get back on track. He says the outliers (high gaining bulls) are freaks and will never breed back to themselves. You are better off to pick from the middle of a herd you like. Those cattle breed more true to themselves. He said in later years, "everyone wants my cows, but no one wants to buy my bulls." That was because he quit watching EPD's and performance and bred for females. We bought bulls from him and it was near impossible to tell one bull from another they were that similar in phenotype. He also never sold bulls as yearlings either because he didn't like to push the young bulls. He was a great educator, sadly has passed on.

Hope this helps! Understand that was some time ago...
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby RSL » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:28 pm

I would kind of echo what FH said, although we use the numbers extremely heavily in our selection, we use them to find consistent type and not necessarily the biggest numbers. In other words we use numbers and pedigree to help lock down type. By finding values that work for us and repeatedly buying those same numbers (and maybe tweaking a bit if we find a shortfall) we can result in a very consistent set of DNA. In fact when you start buying this way, we have found we always wind up back at the same pedigrees.
The idea that full sibs have the same DNA is not correct. It is as statistically likely that they will have identical DNA as it is likely that they will have 100% completely different DNA (unless they are identical twins). We get 1/2 our DNA from our mother and 1/2 from our father but there is no guarantee which half.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby WB » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:15 am

I agree with prior posts. My advice would be that maybe none us need to select for the killer look but select for a good look. After all we want a herd of good cows. I prefer to select from side groups that at a minimum are decently consistent but the most important is the maternal side. Proven cow families are a must for me. I know some are going to say you can’t build a look alike perform alike cow herd with mainstream Angus genetics but I disagree.

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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby WB » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:18 am

I will add that there are way, way to many seed stock operations that are flushing females that are younger than 5 to 6 years old. All breeds are guilty of this.

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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Traveler » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:28 am

I think you're more likely to get something satisfactory by a.i.ing out of your own good cows, without writing the big checks at the bull sales. We keep quite a few bulls on hand for our own use. None purchased.

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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Traveler » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:42 am

Of course a Callicrate Bander is a valuable tool when growing your own.

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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby rancherfred » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:15 am

Traveler wrote:Of course a Callicrate Bander is a valuable tool when growing your own.


I think far too many steers are kept intact. We have raised many of our own bulls over the years and I have found that I need to start with 3-4X the number of bulls that I end up with to have something worth keeping. I currently have about 18 bull calves in my lot that will ultimately be culled down to about 4 or 5. Breeders keep far more than they should and feed them like they are finishing them to cover up the bull's sins.

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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Faster horses » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:09 pm

Wow, some great posts here! We felt, with our herd, that the factory (female) was what we were seeking. Steer calves were a by-product. Interesting that we didn't lose weaning weight with the steers by selecting for maternal. Maybe it was because the cows were so strong. I like some of the older Angus genetics and tried to use those. The cattle in the 70's had some real desirable traits. Like Denny, who uses Viking GD60 and is very satisfied with what that bull added to his herd(I'm a real fan of that bull). Rito 707--I read where Dale Davis, pioneer Mt. Angus breeder, when asked in the early 2000's what he thought the best bull he raised was.....his answer was Rito 707. He had progeny in his herd for years; when he replied to that question, Rito 707 was an old, old bull and had been deceased for quite a long time.

Back to Larry Leonhardt, his cows and bulls were liked clones when we saw them.

I have to qualify my posts as I am basically only familiar with Angus bloodlines. :D
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby leanin' H » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:34 pm

Great post! And insightful replies as well.

A great cattleman I respect told me years ago, Breed for great heifers and the steers will take care of themselves. To me, a ruffian from the edge of the civilized world, the key is consistency. When I go to bull sales, it is usually easy to pick the cream of each pen. Like others have said, many bulls oughta be steers. I like a seedstock producer to have uniform bulls top to bottom, through each pen. They seem to be pretty rare. But that same uniformity shows up in their cowherd as well and translates well to mine. Phenotype matters. Because usually it equates with quality. And quality cattle sell better every time. We have all been at the salebarn and watched inferior cattle walk into the ring. And we have all watched soggy, long, level steer calves make buyers bid. I don't know how heritable phenotype is, but things like bad feet and poor bags are, so it has to relate somehow. I look for the middle of the road EPD's and lean toward the maternal side. I want a bull from a great cowherd and family and from a breeder I trust. I want a bull that will travel and cover cows. Utah State University is in the middle on a study to predict the virility of a bull and attach an EPD to that trait. So then we could choose bulls that will go to work instead of laying around not breeding cows. And as a small operation, my budget is pretty small too. I cant compete with the big money places on the top of the sale order bulls. (I learned a long time ago I could pick great bulls, I just couldn't afford them) :D But when you see a uniform pen of bulls from a reputable breeder, that's when I feel buying a bull a tad lower in the sale order is a smart buy. And its served me well. When I used to haul my calves to the sale barn, I had a 7 year run where mine topped the sale. That must mean buyers like what they see. My advice is to not chase single traits, concentrate on making great cows, look for uniformity and build relationships with bull producers you trust. Good luck to you Amo!
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby scout » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:37 pm

I really hate buying bulls at a sale I prefer private treaty I rather enjoy walking through the pen with the breeder talking about the bulls pedigree and know what the guy wants up front. I select my bulls on phenotype first and numbers second. I stay away from calving ease bulls except for hfr bulls try to select for middle of the road calving ease but have been pushing the heavier birth weight s lately
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