Beef Today columnist
In our world today, there are simply too many divorces. Too many individuals are united in marriage only to find out that they did not do enough research. They enter into a long-term commitment and shortly find out the little things are really big things that simply cause a relationship not to last for the long term.
A marriage isn’t all that different than a bull purchase. It’s for the long haul, too! This is especially true if you are raising replacement females out of your new bull(s). I often see cattlemen buy bulls and then later down the road, they say, "I sure wish I hadn’t bought that bull." Such bull buyer’s remorse isn’t much different than a wife finding out that her newly acquired spouse refuses to put the toilet seat down after visiting the bathroom!
Or here is another scenario: A bull buyer selects a bull based solely on his EPDs. He doesn’t look at the bull’s feet, check temperament or other phenotypic traits. He buys the bull, gets him home and is greatly disappointed with his new bad-footed, narrow-made bull that has, in his mind, a perfect EPD profile. Just like a fellow ordering a bride based on her measurements … only to find that she has minimal teeth, is mildly intellectual and personality challenged!
That’s a long time to live with something you don’t like
Know what you want. From what I hear, a divorce can be pretty costly, and so can selecting the wrong bull. For instance, if you select high-growth, high-milk bulls for a low-input environment, you are headed toward making replacement females with high energy requirements that might not breed back in your production model. This spring offers more opportunity for bull buyers than ever before. Obviously, we are at a new price level for all segments in the beef industry. With this said, the decisions we make today are even more important as so many of us are rebuilding cowherds and restocking pastures. The bulls we buy this year will influence our herd for five, 10 and hopefully even 15 years if we make the right decisions. James Henderson, one of our Beef Today advisors, says, "It is pretty easy to have direct influence of a single bull for 17 years if you use the bull for five years and keep cows until they are 12." Wow! That’s a long time to live with something you don’t like!
We have more selection tools to aid in bull selection than ever before, and I encourage you to take advantage of a combination of genomic data, performance data and phenotype. It’s important to know your market endpoint or herd goals before you go to a bull sale.
Ask yourself: What do you need most from your new bull(s)? Calving ease, high docility scores, carcass value, soundness, fertility, longevity, fleshing ability … the list goes on.
By knowing what you want your bull(s) to accomplish before you open the first sale catalog, you can assure yourself of entering into a relationship that won’t need marriage counseling later.
Remember, a bull’s influence is our most powerful method of genetic improvement in our herds. So think of bull selection this way: Most of us spend more time with our livestock than we do with our spouses or significant others. Shouldn’t you take the time to do some research so you don’t end up with a bull divorce?
Specializing in genetics and marketing, Cheramie takes a big-picture approach to herd management. A native of Louisiana, she has worked all across the country to help ranchers maximize opportunities. Contact Cheramie: