Uniformity Is An Elusive, But Worthy Goal In Cattle Herds

Uniformity Is An Elusive, But Worthy Goal In Cattle Herds

Cattle producers - whether they are a one-bull cow herd owner in southwest Missouri or a 1,000 cow rancher in Montana - like to have a uniform herd.

There's no doubt when it's time to market cattle, a uniform set of calves, stockers, finished cattle or bred heifers attract more buyer interest, according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"That buyer interest translates into more dollars in the bank account especially if the cattle are uniformly good.  The trick is to make sure they are good," says Cole.

Beef industry analysts even talk about the need to develop more uniformity or consistency in the product.  The responsibility for developing consistency starts with the cow-calf operator who produces the feeder calf.

Years ago, according to Cole, breeding or developing a consistent product involved a relative few breeds of beef cattle.  It was fairly easy to follow the purebred route and have an all black Angus, straight Hereford, Shorthorn herd and send a uniform set of calves or yearling to market.

"As time went by and different breeds came on the scene, uniformity and consistency became a greater challenge," continues Cole.

Today, however, those challenges can be met with the technology of expected progeny difference (EPD), heat synchronization/fixed-time artificial insemination, high accuracy EPD bulls, embryo transfer, ultrasound use and DNA analysis.

"Those technologies can even be put to work in small, diverse herds.  The calves from the first-cross may not be peas in a pod but they should help the herd owner move towards a more uniform, consistent herd," says Cole.

Cole recommends a visit with your extension livestock specialist about the tools you can use to develop a set of calves that make order buyers sit up and take notice.

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