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Offline justintime

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genetics of roan color
« on: June 19, 2010, 02:09:12 PM »
 I sold my last bull I had for sale yesterday. That makes 38 sold this spring, so it has been a good year for bull sales. The fellow I sold this bull to, ranches in Western Saskatchewan close to the Alberta border. He runs 450 cows and they are Horned Hereford base.  He phoned and asked me if I had any horned bulls left that were for sale? I told him that the only bull I had left was horned, so we discussed him and he said he would buy him. He said that he would have come to see him but, they had over 7 inches of rain the night before, and all the roads to his place were washed out. In our discussion, he said that he would never use a polled bull. I asked him why he thought that, and he said that he had tried some polled bulls in the past, both Angus and Hereford, and the daughters just were not as hardy as his females sired by horned bulls. He also said that the offspring from the cows sired by polled bulls were never as good as his calves from straight horned bloodlines. This is not the first time I have heard this, and I have wondered about it a lot. In this case, I felt that the buyer is always right, so I did not try to convince him otherwise.

I know in my herd, I don't mind having some horned genetics close up in the pedigree as I have always felt that my best calves are either horned themselves or come from parents that have horned breeding in the first two generations. I don't  have anything to back this up, other than it seems that my best calves are always horned. I just thought it might be Mother Nature's way to get back at me for something. Now this long time rancher, who makes his entire living from his cows, has made me wonder about this again.

The main reason I started this thread, was in regards to another comment this man said. He said that his cow herd was entirely Horned Hereford bloodlines, then he said," well there is some Shorthorn in their background." He said " many of my cows are roans with white faces. ( he also said he had sold all the cows that were sired by the polled bulls he tried, as he did not think they could handle his conditions). I asked him when he had used a Shorthorn bull, and he said that his father had used a white horned Shorthorn bull over 50 years previously, and the roan color is still showing up". He said that he will even get some calves that are lighter roan than their mother's are, from his Hereford bulls. He said that if the lighter roan calves are heifers, he knows he has a future replacement female, as they always make his best cows. This was the main reason he was wanting to try a Shorthorn bull again in his herd. This man certainly sounded knowledgeable and he sounded like he knew what he wanted from his cows.

This conversation took my mind back to a neighbor's herd when I was growing up. This man had a herd of 50-60 cows that were almost all roans with white faces. I can remember this herd as being a tremendous set of females, with tremendous thickness and volume, and they always had huge calves on them by fall. I remember asking my dad, when this man had used a Shorthorn bull, and dad telling me, that this herd had been roan for as long as he could remember, and that he could not remember a Shorthorn bull being used in at least 40 years.

I have a good basic understanding of how the roan color is transmitted, but I guess I would think that it would eventually be eliminated from use of several generations of Hereford bulls. With my Angus cows, I have seen solid white calves in two generations from purebred Angus cows, by using roan or white Shorthorn bulls. I had one last year, and I have another this year. They would pass as purebred Shorthorn by color, but they are still 25% Angus genetics. I was wondering if some of the genetic wizards on SP could explain to me, how this roan color continues to show up in these herds. Is it simply a case of the owner selecting the roans as replacements when he gets one?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2010, 02:12:13 PM by justintime »
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Offline mark tenenbaum

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2010, 03:58:07 PM »
I am a genetic idiot-Roan is a color indigeous to the shorthorn breed by way of the ancient Dutch cattle from which they are descended. The Herefords are the only Brit Breed not descended from horns-and due to some outcross deal-the roan gene remains dominant- Back to Blue roans- they  seem to be the  hardest color to produce in numbers-its gonna take a roan Hereford bull (like Indian Outlaw) on a very pure Angus? O0

Offline frostback

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2010, 08:49:24 AM »
Those roan cows when bred to a hereford bull have a 50% chance of throwing another roan calf.
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Offline frostback

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2010, 08:58:35 AM »
Forgot to mention, if he is using a white short bull he will get 50% white calves from those roan cows he already has.All the others will be roan from the red hereford marked cows.  If it is a roan bull 25% white calves. 50% roan calves. 25% hereford red marked. If it  is red bull it is the same as using a hereford bull as the roan (co-dominant roaning gene) is not there. What colour bull did he buy?
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Offline justintime

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2010, 08:58:53 AM »
frostback, I was thinking about that. That is probably what is happening here. It just seemed to me that after 50+ years the Hereford characteristics would dominate. That herd is probably at least 99% Hereford blood by now, yet the roan color is still there. I guess the part that really made me wonder was that he said he has some cows with only a very little roan color and he is getting some calves that are real light roans from his Hereford bulls. I would have expected they would slowly lose the roan color.
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Offline justintime

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2010, 09:01:16 AM »
Forgot to mention, if he is using a white short bull he will get 50% white calves from those roan cows he already has.All the others will be roan from the red hereford marked cows.  If it is a roan bull 25% white calves. 50% roan calves. 25% hereford red marked. If it  is red bull it is the same as using a hereford bull as the roan (co-dominant roaning gene) is not there. What colour bull did he buy?

The bull he purchased is red with a very few white markings. He will probably get some brockle faces. He said his cows now all have solid white faces, so the Hereford has dominated in that coloring at least
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Offline frostback

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2010, 09:07:40 AM »
The roan gene is either there or not. There is no kinda. Very little roan is still roan. It only takes a few white hairs mixed in to make a roan. Usually under the tail, in between the back legs, or on the face.
If you look real close to the angus cow with the white calf I bet you could find the roan in her as she is a blue herself.
The hereford white face is a dominant gene.
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Offline LostFarmer

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2010, 09:42:56 AM »
I have a neighbor that has a set of cows that roan a little here and there.  His dad last used shorthorn bulls nearly 50 years ago.   He keeps any heifer with roan.  He has been breeding black bulls and they seem to be killing the roan much faster than the Hereford bulls.

Offline mark tenenbaum

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2010, 11:53:03 AM »
I have a neighbor that has a set of cows that roan a little here and there.  His dad last used shorthorn bulls nearly 50 years ago.   He keeps any heifer with roan.  He has been breeding black bulls and they seem to be killing the roan much faster than the Hereford bulls. Thats because they are distantly related to shorthorns O0

Offline oocc

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2010, 12:53:24 PM »
i have a heifer out of a hard core bull and the cow is out of hard core. she has a wide roan belt thats behind her shoulder. it  runs from her top all the way down uderneath her left side please explain this to me .

Offline Telos

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2010, 03:10:41 PM »
i have a heifer out of a hard core bull and the cow is out of hard core. she has a wide roan belt thats behind her shoulder. it  runs from her top all the way down uderneath her left side please explain this to me .

This is just a guess. Hard Core is out of a Habanero bred cow which goes back to a Santa Gertrudis which were bred from Shorthorn. Some might call that a birth mark, also.
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Offline frostback

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2010, 03:14:07 PM »
If there are no shorthorns in the pedigree that could be a birth mark. Seen many angus with gray spots too. Give me the rest of the pedigree or a number to research. With only one parent named it is hard to know whats behind the heifer.
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Offline oocc

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2010, 05:44:58 PM »
expain to me just what a birth mark is in cattle ???

Offline aj

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2010, 07:15:41 AM »
What is a birth mark...I was also wondering. Maybe its where the afterbirth stains the ground when the calf is born. Before Fido drags it away as beef jerky delight?
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Offline Shady Lane

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Re: genetics of roan color
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2010, 09:42:16 AM »
A number of years ago, I showed a black steer that was very competitive, he was a Forepplay out of a Black maine cow.

He was solid black except for a round white ring, about the size of a dinner plate on his left side about 1/2 way up his flank. I was bitterly accused of freeze branding the steer by those who did not wish to compete against him. Because of this white mark, he was divided into the "off colour" class and competed with the red steers etc.

Fact of the matter was, steer had that mark on him when we bought him in a public auction, and the vet who inspected him declared it to be a birth mark. I know the breeder of that steer very well and he swears that steer came out of the cow that way.

Last year I got a purebred shorthorn cow in a group of recips that had a birthmark on her right hand side, red cow with a cream coloured (think Simmental Yellow) oblong oval mark about the size of a soccer ball. I'd call that a birthmark as well.

A number of years ago we showed a Marrellan Super Dazzler heifer that was out of a Dividend X Margie 924 daughter. She was red with a few white marks and had a solid black patch on her hip the size of your hand.

Once again, I'd call it a birthmark.


So I would say it can and does happen, people can get birthmarks, so why not cattle?
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