Spring Breeding Season
Mar 22, 2010
The first few days of spring are upon us and the recent chilly days have us all returning back to our warm layers of winter clothing. The flurry of activities over the past week had this modern ag women bouncing between business suits and high heels to slickers and mud boots. The midnight checks of our maternity ward have been replaced with midnight checks for heat cycles. The countdown to breeding for a January 1 calf is in sight, an optimum calving season for this family.
On the cattle farm, the family and I have spent many bonding moments rounding up cattle for spring vaccinations and carefully planning synchronization of females to ideally fit into our busy schedule. The size of our cattle farm is small compared to most livestock operations. The financial and managerial decision to not keep a bull on the place was not only practical but also a peace-keeping mission. The grain farmer in this family (husband) was getting quite grumble as he repaired damaged equipment and gates.
My twelve-year old daughter and I-the Angus Enthusiasts of the family- have once again found ourselves in our normal seasonal discussion. What will each Angus female be bred too? The use of Artificial Insemination (A.I.) 100% was not only a practical decision for us but an opportunity to use the optimum genetics for each individual female rather than using one-size-fits all plan that one bull can provide. Is our decision to use only A.I. risky, perhaps? New technology and consulting knowledgeable experts to guide us in the right direction has shortened the odds.
So once again my daughter and I began to analyze our current breeding program and genetically cataloging each female’s attributes: ranking the good and bad traits of each female, reviewing EPDs and actual data, evaluating the current offsprings on the ground, and asking ourselves which genetic package will provide our farm with the best marketable calf.
As my daughter and I browse through the catalogs of potential sires, we discussed the phenotypical characteristics that we had observed in the showring and at winter sales. For us the evaluation program has to include the showring, mainly because our herd is so small. Observing the genetic combinations of other farms, assist us to make a more educational decisions.
Through this process, I observed in my daughter the same anticipation I feel every spring; the hopes to provide the next best thing-a heifer or bull calf that is better that its dam or sire. The gleam in her eye is the root of all farmers’ passion to raise crops or livestock to best of our ability. I enjoy spending time mentoring young agriculturists because their passion is contagious and too often the roller coaster of life can derail us adults to lose focus of our dreams.