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Offline librarian

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #45 on: November 07, 2015, 10:24:48 AM »
JIT,having the first hand knowledge you did of the poor performance of the Leader 21 cattle, what prompted you to use him again recently,flushing one of your donor cows and selling the offspring as breeding stock?Was there some redeeming quality in old 21 that you thought would offset all the poor traits?

I flushed one of my biggest and thicker made donors to Leader 21st in an attempt to develop a calving ease sire that was basically a complete outcross to most of today's bloodlines. I used Shadybrook Presto 73G as she has produced some calves that had excellent muscle. The calves we had from this flush had very good BWs yet grew pretty well. We did have a reduction in the natural muscling in these calves but we did gain calving ease. One bull was produced, HC Leader's Legacy 6U and he was used at Galbreath Farms, Enderlin, ND for several years and they have a lot of daughters of him in their herd. I still use him in my herd as he is an excellent choice for use on heifers. I have found that his calves have much more performance than he showed himself and some of his daughters have become excellent cows. I also sold a set of embryos from this flush to Ford Family Shorthorns in Iowa and they got a bull that they called Lead Outside the Box ET and I have heard that he is also breeding well. I believe Emily Ford has semen available on him and there is also semen available on Leader's Legacy 6U in the US. Leader's Legacy 6U semen is also available here in Canada.
I also did some flushes of my biggest donors to Pheasant Creek Leader 4th, who I have always considered to be the very best bull I had any experience with from the Leader line. Leader 4th's dam was a cow named Hi Way Honeysuckle ( by Hi Way Fantasy) and I still consider this cow to be in my top 10 list for the best Shorthorn cows I have seen in my life. She was raised by Lloyd Becker, Carrington, ND and sold to Alf Dreger here in Saskatchewan. The Dreger herd consisted of a maximum of 7 or 8 cows at the most and he almost always had 3 bulls at the Regina Bull Sale and they were always most impressive. Pheasant Creek Leader 4th was sired by Kinnaber Leader 6th, who was, in my opinion, the best looking Leader 21st son, but then, he was used in the Dreger herd for several years which only had a few cows. It was a pretty good hotel to live at!
My dad purchased all the semen on Leader 4th in the Remitall dispersal in 1967. I lost 100 vials of it in a semen tank that cracked so I only had 2 canes left which was in another tank. I decided to flush my two biggest donors to him, again to try to produce some calving ease genetics. I again flushed Shadybrook Presto 73G and I also flushed B Good Red Sue 1P. Even though these donors had some birth weight in their genetic make-up, all the resulting calves were under 80 lbs at birth. The Red Sue flush resulted in the best calves and I ended up with 5 bulls and 1 heifer from that flush. The calves from this flush were probably the most uniform set of ET calves I have ever produced. The 5 bulls were virtually identical and found myself having to look at their ear tags every time I looked at them to know which one I was looking at.  I kept the bull I thought was probably the best one, HC Bar Code 16X to use on my heifers and it certainly worked well. These calves from Leader 4th and my two biggest cows were much smaller framed and I still have the two ET daughters of Leader 4th and these two cows in my herd. They are two of the smaller framed cows I have, despite their dams being the biggest ones I had at the time. Both these Leader 4th daughters have become excellent producing females. When we did ultrasound the bulls produced from these flushes, they all had smaller REA, but they also had excellent marbling scores. I have also found that my Bar Code offspring have had more performance than he had and some of his sons have bred very well. Bernie Vacura in western Kansas has a Bar Code son named HC Quantum 30Z and he is breeding very well. Bernie says he had daughters of him wean at 750 lbs on dry pastures and he is impressed with their depth and thickness.
I have always maintained that breeding cattle should be about blending genetics from different bloodlines to try to produce a better animal. In the case of these flushes, I think I did accomplish this in some ways, as I was able to produce some calving ease genetics that still had reasonable performance. I may have sacrificed some muscle, but I gained some easy fleshing ability and there are lots of genetics I can use with these genetics to improve the muscling again. I have attached pictures of the two donors I used to flush to Leader 21 and his grandson Leader 4th.  Both these cows were larger framed and weighed over 1800 lbs on a poor day. I was afraid to use smaller cows to flush to, as I thought it may result in ET calves that were too small. The daughters of Leader 4th I have in my herd are probably around 1400 lb cows, so the blend seemed to work OK I think.
JIT,your reply brings up several topics of discusion here are a couple,
1.Does the mating of 2 extremes give you a reliable  breeding animal that will produce offspring in the middle especially when one of the parents pedigrees is very much mainstream to a large part of the breeding population.
2.How do we define the breed,Terminal or Maternal? If maternal, as our calling card has been in the past should the breed have need of calving ease lines for heifers or have to go outside the breed as many have to get a heifer safe bull to breed their purebred Shorthorn heifers?
 
If the purpose is
I flushed one of my biggest and thicker made donors to Leader 21st in an attempt to develop a calving ease sire that was basically a complete outcross to most of today's bloodlines
then, its seems like the complete outcross was the primary I intention, rather than a predictable calving ease sire. Probably any lasting CED effect would take more work.

To the second question, I see this as the Shorthorn crossroads.
Are we going to sacrifice the built in CEM of true Shorthorn cows for transient CED? My thought is the Shorthorn cow should produce a bull that will work on his own daughters, heifers or mature cows, because the CEM is bred in.
Rather than chase calving ease numbers, I would propose chasing a different Shorthorn cow type.
These two cows, separated by a century, seem similar to me, although one is dairy and one is beef. Both are probably 1600 lbs. I'd like to see more cows like this bred to bring down size to 1300 or 1400 lbs, without loss of that long hip and deep body. Wouldn't this be a way to achieve lighter birthweights, just by gradually reducing frame size?

And, I'd like to hear more about the Weston herd.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 10:26:34 AM by librarian »
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Offline knabe

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #46 on: November 07, 2015, 10:45:59 AM »
Wouldn't this be a way to achieve lighter birthweights, just by gradually reducing frame size?


you need to qualify that.

one could have two cows, one frame score 1 with a calf of 65 lbs and a frame score 4 with a 65 lb calf.

how we measure BW/CE is probably not very effective.


one might look outside the beef world for calving ease genes while not sacrificing performance or vigor.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 10:46:50 AM by knabe »
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Offline Dale

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #47 on: November 07, 2015, 11:22:58 AM »
I was at Weston twice, as I recall.  We purchased a couple of excellent herd bulls there--Weston Surprise 3rd and Weston Goliath (1200 lb. yearling weight).  Doc Nold purchased quite a few cattle from breeders such as Haumont (a pot load of cows) and Frosty Acres (Albaugh--sp.?).  Did he also have Canadian bloodlines?  Nold understood how to blend such popular bloodlines as Leader 21st, etc. to the Jackson cows on which his herd was based.  Ron Larson was the manager and he brought in some of the Hi Way genetics from his dad's, Walter, herd.  Nold would go on vet calls where it was catch and treat a cow on open range with no facilities--he had an assistant, as I recall.  Weston (Doc & Ron) had a rather good understanding of how to find genetics from true breeders and how to blend them.  I saw Weston Fortune, Weston Shamrock and maybe one or two more. 

I remember dropping off a couple (or was it 3) of cattle at Denny Jordan's in Oct. of 1975, as I recall.  The clutch went out on our old truck on the way out and driving without a clutch made the journey more of an adventure for my wife and Sarah, who was born in Dec. 1975.  Weston was a working ranch with several herd bulls in the same pen, and two years worth of feed in case of a drought.  SD at that time was somewhat still the Wild West with cowboys wearing their pistol when they headed to town on Sat. night.

Offline Okotoks

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #48 on: November 07, 2015, 12:01:25 PM »
JIT,having the first hand knowledge you did of the poor performance of the Leader 21 cattle, what prompted you to use him again recently,flushing one of your donor cows and selling the offspring as breeding stock?Was there some redeeming quality in old 21 that you thought would offset all the poor traits?

I flushed one of my biggest and thicker made donors to Leader 21st in an attempt to develop a calving ease sire that was basically a complete outcross to most of today's bloodlines. I used Shadybrook Presto 73G as she has produced some calves that had excellent muscle. The calves we had from this flush had very good BWs yet grew pretty well. We did have a reduction in the natural muscling in these calves but we did gain calving ease. One bull was produced, HC Leader's Legacy 6U and he was used at Galbreath Farms, Enderlin, ND for several years and they have a lot of daughters of him in their herd. I still use him in my herd as he is an excellent choice for use on heifers. I have found that his calves have much more performance than he showed himself and some of his daughters have become excellent cows. I also sold a set of embryos from this flush to Ford Family Shorthorns in Iowa and they got a bull that they called Lead Outside the Box ET and I have heard that he is also breeding well. I believe Emily Ford has semen available on him and there is also semen available on Leader's Legacy 6U in the US. Leader's Legacy 6U semen is also available here in Canada.
I also did some flushes of my biggest donors to Pheasant Creek Leader 4th, who I have always considered to be the very best bull I had any experience with from the Leader line. Leader 4th's dam was a cow named Hi Way Honeysuckle ( by Hi Way Fantasy) and I still consider this cow to be in my top 10 list for the best Shorthorn cows I have seen in my life. She was raised by Lloyd Becker, Carrington, ND and sold to Alf Dreger here in Saskatchewan. The Dreger herd consisted of a maximum of 7 or 8 cows at the most and he almost always had 3 bulls at the Regina Bull Sale and they were always most impressive. Pheasant Creek Leader 4th was sired by Kinnaber Leader 6th, who was, in my opinion, the best looking Leader 21st son, but then, he was used in the Dreger herd for several years which only had a few cows. It was a pretty good hotel to live at!
My dad purchased all the semen on Leader 4th in the Remitall dispersal in 1967. I lost 100 vials of it in a semen tank that cracked so I only had 2 canes left which was in another tank. I decided to flush my two biggest donors to him, again to try to produce some calving ease genetics. I again flushed Shadybrook Presto 73G and I also flushed B Good Red Sue 1P. Even though these donors had some birth weight in their genetic make-up, all the resulting calves were under 80 lbs at birth. The Red Sue flush resulted in the best calves and I ended up with 5 bulls and 1 heifer from that flush. The calves from this flush were probably the most uniform set of ET calves I have ever produced. The 5 bulls were virtually identical and found myself having to look at their ear tags every time I looked at them to know which one I was looking at.  I kept the bull I thought was probably the best one, HC Bar Code 16X to use on my heifers and it certainly worked well. These calves from Leader 4th and my two biggest cows were much smaller framed and I still have the two ET daughters of Leader 4th and these two cows in my herd. They are two of the smaller framed cows I have, despite their dams being the biggest ones I had at the time. Both these Leader 4th daughters have become excellent producing females. When we did ultrasound the bulls produced from these flushes, they all had smaller REA, but they also had excellent marbling scores. I have also found that my Bar Code offspring have had more performance than he had and some of his sons have bred very well. Bernie Vacura in western Kansas has a Bar Code son named HC Quantum 30Z and he is breeding very well. Bernie says he had daughters of him wean at 750 lbs on dry pastures and he is impressed with their depth and thickness.
I have always maintained that breeding cattle should be about blending genetics from different bloodlines to try to produce a better animal. In the case of these flushes, I think I did accomplish this in some ways, as I was able to produce some calving ease genetics that still had reasonable performance. I may have sacrificed some muscle, but I gained some easy fleshing ability and there are lots of genetics I can use with these genetics to improve the muscling again. I have attached pictures of the two donors I used to flush to Leader 21 and his grandson Leader 4th.  Both these cows were larger framed and weighed over 1800 lbs on a poor day. I was afraid to use smaller cows to flush to, as I thought it may result in ET calves that were too small. The daughters of Leader 4th I have in my herd are probably around 1400 lb cows, so the blend seemed to work OK I think.
JIT,your reply brings up several topics of discusion here are a couple,
1.Does the mating of 2 extremes give you a reliable  breeding animal that will produce offspring in the middle especially when one of the parents pedigrees is very much mainstream to a large part of the breeding population.
2.How do we define the breed,Terminal or Maternal? If maternal, as our calling card has been in the past should the breed have need of calving ease lines for heifers or have to go outside the breed as many have to get a heifer safe bull to breed their purebred Shorthorn heifers?
 
If the purpose is
I flushed one of my biggest and thicker made donors to Leader 21st in an attempt to develop a calving ease sire that was basically a complete outcross to most of today's bloodlines
then, its seems like the complete outcross was the primary I intention, rather than a predictable calving ease sire. Probably any lasting CED effect would take more work.

To the second question, I see this as the Shorthorn crossroads.
Are we going to sacrifice the built in CEM of true Shorthorn cows for transient CED? My thought is the Shorthorn cow should produce a bull that will work on his own daughters, heifers or mature cows, because the CEM is bred in.
Rather than chase calving ease numbers, I would propose chasing a different Shorthorn cow type.
These two cows, separated by a century, seem similar to me, although one is dairy and one is beef. Both are probably 1600 lbs. I'd like to see more cows like this bred to bring down size to 1300 or 1400 lbs, without loss of that long hip and deep body. Wouldn't this be a way to achieve lighter birthweights, just by gradually reducing frame size?

And, I'd like to hear more about the Weston herd.
Here is a 2 year old daughter of the top cow. First photo is just when she calved unassisted an 82 lb red heifer calf by Eionmor Piper 23Z on February 28, 2015. 45A is almost 23 months old in the first photo! The second photo is early fall. The 2 year old weighed 1197 lbs. on Sept. 15 and the heifer calf 564 lbs. BW would have been about 6.8% of the heifer's weight. I have added another photo of Diamond Anna Y2K.
I don't think downsizing cow size will solve calving ease because if everything goes down proportionately what have you accomplished. I think the MCE is the number to watch while selecting for reasonable birth weights, unassisted calving and pelvic size. There are a few light birth weight calving sires with disturbingly low MCE which could be a recipe for disaster in a couple of generations.
Although I use line breeding I think that some bulls from out cross pedigrees are very capable of breeding consistently. A bull we used in our program that I regret not having semen on was Deer Tail Private Eye. This bull was a combination of beef, irish and milking shorthorn and was a totally consistent breeding bull on assorted bloodlines. When one linebreeds you can actually lose some of the genetics that made the original animal good. I am not saying that patient sorting and linebreeding will not pay off only that a bull can be a genetic powerhouse and still be from an out cross mating.
I also saw the Weston herd when we selected Weston Ablo back in 1978. Weston Shamrock, Weston Adventure, Weston Fortune  were all there and incredibly impressive. The cow herd was impressive and had excellent udders. I still remember the light roan Mayflower Comment cow as being exceptional.
 
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 04:00:10 PM by Okotoks »

Offline r.n.reed

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #49 on: November 07, 2015, 06:08:59 PM »
 Dan I would say the pedigree of Private eye is an example of a more balanced approach of adding an outcross.The center 1/2 of the pedigree is similar in phenotype and breeding and there is actually some line breeding going on there.The top 1/4 is Irish which also has some dual influence and the bottom 1/4th is the beef breeding.
 I also agree with you that establishing a calving ease herd is more than just lowering birth weights.
Gary Kaper

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #50 on: November 08, 2015, 09:15:00 AM »
I have believed for a long time, that all breeds need to be addressing calving ease more than just birth weights. Ease of calving is not just determined by the birth weight, however birth weight is an obvious factor involved. Dr. Martin Nold told me once that if you add an inch to the middle of an 1100 lb finished steer, you would add 80 lbs to it's overall weight. He said that if you took two identical animals, with the only difference being one was 1 inch longer bodied, the longer one would, on average be 80 lbs heavier. We used to talk a lot about calving ease, and he always said if we just wanted to select lower birth weights, the fastest way to do it was to select for shorter made cattle. He said that if everyone did this, we would not necessarily reduce calving ease even though we had lower birth weights.
I made many many trips to see the Weston herd, and it was an amazing herd. We would sometimes drive through the herd in his truck but there were a few times that we would saddle some horses and ride through the pastures. Martin Nold is a very intelligent veterinarian and cattle breeder. He was far ahead of many breeders in his thinking, that some considered him to be a radical. In some ways, he was a often "outside the box" and some of his methods of advancing his herd and his vet practice got him in some hot water occasionally. I mentioned in a previous post awhile ago, about a bull named Sandy Creek Ivor that we purchased in Denver. I sent him to Nold's to be export tested rather than send him back to Illinois, as Nolds was only about a 7 hour drive for me. I remember asking Martin if he had some place he could quarantine Ivor while he was being tested and he said that would be no problem. The following spring he asked me if I would sign 21 registration applications as owner of the bull. He obviously had "quarantined" the bull with a pasture of cows. Some of his " unconventional" ways of doing things eventually resulted in all the registration papers of this herd being pulled by the ASA. The same thing happened in his veterinarian practice when his vet license was pulled on occasion. He told me once that the only way he could get a load of Hereford heifers to all pass their export tests was to pull all the blood samples from one cow.

In regards to the question of whether the Shorthorn breed is a maternal or terminal, I think this breed is first and foremost a maternal breed. That said, I do also believe that this breed also has animals that do more than one thing very well, and we do have some lines that can go against the norm and do many things very well. We have always been taught that muscling and maternal traits such a milking ability are antagonistic to each other. In most cases this is very much the case, however, I have seen some Shorthorn genetics that can do both very well. This is a huge topic and I doubt if we can every cover it all adequately on here without writing a virtual book on it.
Secondly, for the most part, mating two extremes is not the preferred method of designing a reliable breeding animal, but again, I have seen cases where it has worked well. I have also said that this breed should have no reason to go outside to another breed to get a heifer safe bull to use on heifers. Unfortunately, calving issues are usually placed on the sire, but I maintain that some of the calving issues we are seeing in our heifers are " man made". By this I maintain that our breeders have created some of these problems by designing females with a certain look that goes against the way Mother Nature intended a female to look like. I remember asking Jim Williams of V8 ranch in Texas, if they had calving ease bulls in the Brahman breed. He said the beauty of the Brahman cow was that she could be bred to an elephant and still have no calving issues. He said if you study the shape of the Brahman breed, you would see why. They are designed with a lower pin bone setting than most other breeds, much similar to other animals in nature, such as a deer, elk or moose. I have often wondered if our pursuit of the big square hip on our females, especially in the show ring, has ended up in our designing a female that is not equipped to calve as easily unassisted. I also think we need to spend far more time working on gestation length in our cattle. When we imported our first Irish cattle, I noticed that my cows bred to IDS Duke of Dublin calved much later than those bred to Highfield Irish Mist. I started to document gestation length between the two bulls and found that there was, on average 11 or 12 days difference on calving dates between them. While we never had calving issues from either bull, the Duke calves were definitely bigger at birth. The easiest calving bull I have ever used on my heifers, was a full Irish bull I bred named HC Mist's Return 13R. I used him for 5 years on my heifers and usually had 15-25 calves each year sired by him from heifers. In 5 calf crops, I only assisted two heifers calve. One was a malpresentation and the other was a " convenience pull" as I had a meeting to go to. Mist's Return has the shortest gestation length I have ever found in a Shorthorn bull. As he was used in a pasture breeding situation, I did not get breeding dates on every heifer, but I kept track of as any I saw him with, and I learned I better be ready for some births at least 12 days before the normal predicted calving date in most calving books. I still use him on some heifers every year. This is much the same for Ready Go, a bull bred by Martin Nold, that we purchased 41 years ago. Even though, it is now 41 years since we purchased him, we still are selling semen from him. Our semen supply is getting down, but we were fortunate in that a few thousand doses of semen were collected at no cost to us, by the stud to market in South America. After they never got paid for the first 600 doses that went down there, they ended up just giving me the semen if I paid the storage on it.  He is the only bull I have owned that I have continued to sell semen from every year since we bought him. Some breeders have told me that he is the best bull they have ever used for using on their heifers and one breeder has used him now for at least 25 years to breed some heifers to.

Getting back to the discussion on sires suitable to use on heifers, I think we could have found a lot of solutions to this issue if we are breeders could simply track gestation length more accurately and identify sires that have a short gestation length. I think we would be able to produce so called "heifer bulls" in quantity if we only did this.
I will try to get back to give some thoughts on the other questions brought up, but right now, I have to tend to some critters.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 03:05:41 PM by justintime »
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Offline librarian

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #51 on: November 08, 2015, 03:28:15 PM »
I'm trying to say we should not breed out the capacity of the commercial Shorthorn cow to have larger calves as heifers than their commercial Angus counterparts.
If Angus painted themselves into a calving ease corner we dont have to follow their example.



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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #52 on: November 08, 2015, 07:05:03 PM »
 Jim Williams comment to you JIT about the lower pin bones being a major contributor to calving ease makes sense.Anyone know if he selects for that in the show ring when he is judging Shorthorns?
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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #53 on: November 09, 2015, 01:56:45 PM »
Kenmar Max 21Y was one of the bulls that I remember from an old magazine that I really liked and would sure use him today if I could find semen.  Very balanced, clean made, deep, and heavy muscled.   He was in advertisements from Valley View in Nebraska and Shallmar in Montana, I believe.  Valley View also had a photo of Pheasant Creek Leader 4th in their ad.  Max 21y was sired by Pleasant Dawn Seal 2nd.  If you find semen, let me know!
Kenmar Max 21Y is a pretty impressive looking bull in the ad! (I labeled the photo with the wrong name)
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 02:19:53 PM by Okotoks »

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #54 on: November 09, 2015, 02:45:02 PM »
Thanks for posting the photo of Max 21y.  That bull has impressed me for a long time.  Now find semen for me!  There was a Kenmar Leader 21A that was used in Iowa by Ralph Stirm, I think.  He was pretty deep and thick, there is a little semen around on him.  I have semen on Kenmar Leader 13B that I may use someday. 

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #55 on: November 09, 2015, 06:34:32 PM »
I have always thought that Kenmar Max 21Y may have been the best bull ever to come out of Kenmar. He was purchased by Vergeronts at Polson, Montana and used in their herd for a few years before he was sold to Valley View. I think the Vergeronts dispersed there Shorthorn herd around the same time, or maybe 1 or 2 years later. I remember talking to Chip Vergeront in Denver about the bull and he said they were very impressed with his first set of calves. He said they did have some semen on him but none of what they had was exportable to Canada and he said if they ever got exportable semen he would let me know.
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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #56 on: November 10, 2015, 11:16:01 AM »
Okotoks, I stand corrected. I wish the picture showed her udder. I'd drive to Canada just to look at that catalog! I can't find a picture of Bogan Yalta, but that's really interesting that Remittal was outcrossing line bred Leader 21 cattle to Australian bulls.

Beebe- I actually have some Royal Oak. I have been so tempted to put it on the best black Galloways I can find to lay the foundation for a blue grey group, but my conscience won't let me use it for a cross. If I used it on the daughters of my own bull I might get a White Cloud type result. My bull throws a lot of white, but similar type.

Should we just go to Australia for marbling?
Here is a photo of Bogan Yalta and his pedigree. You will see that he has a lot of the same breeding on his top side as Meriwong Royal Grant and Dandaloo Royal Duke, USA imports to Australia. As JIT says he did not have a lot influence but I think that is possibly because the quest for size and height was so great in the 70's / 80's that new bloodlines were being introduced at a rapid rate. As well he was probably used on a lot of smaller cattle in hopes of increasing size and that often takes more than one cross.
I also added Meriwong Royal Grant and his pedigree.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 11:43:22 AM by Okotoks »

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #57 on: November 10, 2015, 12:29:15 PM »
While we are looking at older Australian Polled Shorthorn pedigrees here are the two bulls Louada used. I think some of the incentive for bringing in these bulls was to change a horned herd to polled using imported genetics. Louada had long been a source of imported Scotch shorthorn genetics.

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #58 on: November 10, 2015, 01:12:46 PM »
Here are the ABS Australian bulls offered in North America in 1973. The next is their offering of Australian bred bulls in Australia from their 2015/2016 catalogue. I wish these two were available in North America!

http://issuu.com/absglobalinc/docs/2015_lo_res_cat_complete
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 01:15:41 PM by Okotoks »

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Re: ET Weston Ablo daughter
« Reply #59 on: November 20, 2015, 05:52:53 AM »
I have believed for a long time, that all breeds need to be addressing calving ease more than just birth weights. Ease of calving is not just determined by the birth weight, however birth weight is an obvious factor involved. Dr. Martin Nold told me once that if you add an inch to the middle of an 1100 lb finished steer, you would add 80 lbs to it's overall weight. He said that if you took two identical animals, with the only difference being one was 1 inch longer bodied, the longer one would, on average be 80 lbs heavier. We used to talk a lot about calving ease, and he always said if we just wanted to select lower birth weights, the fastest way to do it was to select for shorter made cattle. He said that if everyone did this, we would not necessarily reduce calving ease even though we had lower birth weights.
I made many many trips to see the Weston herd, and it was an amazing herd. We would sometimes drive through the herd in his truck but there were a few times that we would saddle some horses and ride through the pastures. Martin Nold is a very intelligent veterinarian and cattle breeder. He was far ahead of many breeders in his thinking, that some considered him to be a radical. In some ways, he was a often "outside the box" and some of his methods of advancing his herd and his vet practice got him in some hot water occasionally. I mentioned in a previous post awhile ago, about a bull named Sandy Creek Ivor that we purchased in Denver. I sent him to Nold's to be export tested rather than send him back to Illinois, as Nolds was only about a 7 hour drive for me. I remember asking Martin if he had some place he could quarantine Ivor while he was being tested and he said that would be no problem. The following spring he asked me if I would sign 21 registration applications as owner of the bull. He obviously had "quarantined" the bull with a pasture of cows. Some of his " unconventional" ways of doing things eventually resulted in all the registration papers of this herd being pulled by the ASA. The same thing happened in his veterinarian practice when his vet license was pulled on occasion. He told me once that the only way he could get a load of Hereford heifers to all pass their export tests was to pull all the blood samples from one cow.

In regards to the question of whether the Shorthorn breed is a maternal or terminal, I think this breed is first and foremost a maternal breed. That said, I do also believe that this breed also has animals that do more than one thing very well, and we do have some lines that can go against the norm and do many things very well. We have always been taught that muscling and maternal traits such a milking ability are antagonistic to each other. In most cases this is very much the case, however, I have seen some Shorthorn genetics that can do both very well. This is a huge topic and I doubt if we can every cover it all adequately on here without writing a virtual book on it.
Secondly, for the most part, mating two extremes is not the preferred method of designing a reliable breeding animal, but again, I have seen cases where it has worked well. I have also said that this breed should have no reason to go outside to another breed to get a heifer safe bull to use on heifers. Unfortunately, calving issues are usually placed on the sire, but I maintain that some of the calving issues we are seeing in our heifers are " man made". By this I maintain that our breeders have created some of these problems by designing females with a certain look that goes against the way Mother Nature intended a female to look like. I remember asking Jim Williams of V8 ranch in Texas, if they had calving ease bulls in the Brahman breed. He said the beauty of the Brahman cow was that she could be bred to an elephant and still have no calving issues. He said if you study the shape of the Brahman breed, you would see why. They are designed with a lower pin bone setting than most other breeds, much similar to other animals in nature, such as a deer, elk or moose. I have often wondered if our pursuit of the big square hip on our females, especially in the show ring, has ended up in our designing a female that is not equipped to calve as easily unassisted. I also think we need to spend far more time working on gestation length in our cattle. When we imported our first Irish cattle, I noticed that my cows bred to IDS Duke of Dublin calved much later than those bred to Highfield Irish Mist. I started to document gestation length between the two bulls and found that there was, on average 11 or 12 days difference on calving dates between them. While we never had calving issues from either bull, the Duke calves were definitely bigger at birth. The easiest calving bull I have ever used on my heifers, was a full Irish bull I bred named HC Mist's Return 13R. I used him for 5 years on my heifers and usually had 15-25 calves each year sired by him from heifers. In 5 calf crops, I only assisted two heifers calve. One was a malpresentation and the other was a " convenience pull" as I had a meeting to go to. Mist's Return has the shortest gestation length I have ever found in a Shorthorn bull. As he was used in a pasture breeding situation, I did not get breeding dates on every heifer, but I kept track of as any I saw him with, and I learned I better be ready for some births at least 12 days before the normal predicted calving date in most calving books. I still use him on some heifers every year. This is much the same for Ready Go, a bull bred by Martin Nold, that we purchased 41 years ago. Even though, it is now 41 years since we purchased him, we still are selling semen from him. Our semen supply is getting down, but we were fortunate in that a few thousand doses of semen were collected at no cost to us, by the stud to market in South America. After they never got paid for the first 600 doses that went down there, they ended up just giving me the semen if I paid the storage on it.  He is the only bull I have owned that I have continued to sell semen from every year since we bought him. Some breeders have told me that he is the best bull they have ever used for using on their heifers and one breeder has used him now for at least 25 years to breed some heifers to.

Getting back to the discussion on sires suitable to use on heifers, I think we could have found a lot of solutions to this issue if we are breeders could simply track gestation length more accurately and identify sires that have a short gestation length. I think we would be able to produce so called "heifer bulls" in quantity if we only did this.
I will try to get back to give some thoughts on the other questions brought up, but right now, I have to tend to some critters.


I came across pictures of the 2015 Louisville champions on the Shorthorn Facebook page.The first thing I noticed was the dramatic slope upward to the tailhead especially on the females.I wonder if this issue will be discussed in the showring relevancy to the beef industry segment of Impact 2015
Gary Kaper

 

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