How do you make your AI bull choices?

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red

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Since bulls seem to be a hot topic, what factors go into making your bull decsions? Why do you use a certain bull but not another? Why won't you use certain bulls?
I like to use several sources before I make my bull line-up. I read the semen catlogs, look through sale catalogs to see their offspring & also try to see as many as Ii can, view the bulls in person if possible & look at ads & the internet. I also use EPD's, refferals & other breeder's feedback.
Some of the things I look for in a bull are:
Birth weight- very important for me because we tend to have big calves
maternal ability- I like to see his dam & any sibs
disposition
reputation of breeder
I'm also trying to use clean bulls that are not carriers of TH or PHA although I have used them. I'm getting more aware of the testing so it is easier to eliminate those bulls.
I try not to go with fads or gimicks when buying semen. Another thing & this might be silly, but if the bull has name I find ofensive or just goes againist my beliefs I won't use him. I don't like bulls that are named after sexual situations or signify death. I might be old fashioned in my thinking but that's me. ;)
What do you look for when buying your bull semen?
Red
 

Show Heifer

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First , I look at a bunch of cows/calves every year, so I ask about bloodlines, etc. Then I actually take notes (my memory is not good - can't even remember display bulls at Denver). I then go through the sire directories to get their numbers and use them AS A GUIDE.
I don't buy into hype, even I can take a good picture if glamed up a bit!!  :)
I then use my gut. I have used bulls no one else has "just because it felt right." I know, pathetic. But honest!

 

ruhtram

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I was reading some old post from Red..Thought I would see what some other peoples thoughts are on picking bulls
 

leanbeef

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Choosing bulls for our own program at home, it's hard for me to consider any bull that isn't both homozygous black and homozygous polled. We sell a few commercial bulls, and our cow herd is almost entirely homozygous black with a high percentage of them being homozygous polled. Our bull customers expect uniform calves, and it just makes em worth more to fit that criteria. And there are enough homozygous black & polled Simmental bulls out there that it just makes things easier.

We do pay a lot of attention to EPDs and pedigree. If a bull has plain numbers, it would be tough for him to make the list. I like to see bulls in person if possible...photos & videos have to suffice more often than not. And I also look at calves any chance I get and talk to other breeders about what they've seen that works and doesn't work.

If I'm choosing bulls to be used in another program besides our own, I might consider different criteria depending on that program's goals & priorities. Sometimes that gives me a chance to sample a bull I really want to try that just might not work in our breeding or marketing scheme. And none of this criteria is necessarily more important than another piece...a bull has to seem pretty complete to us in order to end up on the list. If I was forced to rank priorities, then yes...I would do that. But I don't because I don't feel like we have to make sacrifices. There are a lotta bulls out there! I try to balance some more proven, higher accuracy & more predictable bulls along with one or two new prospects we think has a lot of potential.
 

ZNT

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leanbeef

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U make some valid points in ur blog entries, ZNT. I tend to think a lot of us in the cattle business are very informal at best when it comes to program goals. I wonder how many of us have actually taken the time to write down our goals and priorities? For me, it isn't as much about having them written out as the time I spent THINKING about them in order to get them on paper. The process forces us to consider what we're doing & where we want to go, and is what we're doing going to get us there? Most of us wouldn't dare set out on a vacation for a week with no idea where we were going, so why are we not more deliberate when it comes to our livelihood or our family business? We did this for the first time a few years ago when we were planning our first production sale. I wanted to introduce our program to prospective buyers and give them a good idea of what our program was about, and I happened to notice that other programs I respected a great deal had done the same thing. Maybe that's not the main reason those programs have been so successful, but I sure don't think it hurts!

Since we've established some goals and priorities, a lot of decisions we make have gotten easier. Yes...we might make an exception to our "policy" but there are a lot of decisions we don't even have to think about because they just don't fit the program. If we look at how a lot of cattlemen conduct their business, I think a lot of us must pull out of our driveways for that family vacation, and the answer I would expect if we asked where we're going is, "We'll know when we get there!"
 

willow

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BTW Leanbeef I have always loved the cattle in your profile picture.  Ok, so we are so much smaller scale than most of the people on here, but I still feel like selection is important wether you have ten cattle or a thousand.  In the beginning we always looked at pedigree and numbers more than we looked at phenotype.  Well eventually we found that we may have been having cool calves on paper, but they were darn hard to look at.  So now we go with a more balanced approach.  We look at EPD's, genetics and phenotype.  There are some traits we are not willing to budge on and we go into "selection" knowing that and choose accordingly.  By doing that one thing differently we have made a noticeable change in our cattle in a few short years.  I still think we could use the fresh eye of a trusted cattleman every now and then to give some advice, but we are making progress.   
 

leanbeef

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Thanks, Willow! That was a cool calf...I wish Ol' Blueberry would have mema heifer like him! She's my ONE cow I get to play with, and she just has steers, year after year!

I agree...you have to have a balanced approach to selection in order to make real genetic progress. There are so many bulls to choose from nowadays, but if you have a focused program and you use multi-trait selection, the list of possibilities gets narrowed down pretty quickly! Matings is one of my favorite jobs...there's SO much potential at that point! 
 

willow

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leanbeef said:
Thanks, Willow! That was a cool calf...I wish Ol' Blueberry would have mema heifer like him! She's my ONE cow I get to play with, and she just has steers, year after year!

I agree...you have to have a balanced approach to selection in order to make real genetic progress. There are so many bulls to choose from nowadays, but if you have a focused program and you use multi-trait selection, the list of possibilities gets narrowed down pretty quickly! Matings is one of my favorite jobs...there's SO much potential at that point! 

:)
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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Very Carefully! ;)

Seriously though, we are talking about it all year long! We have smaller herds, so each mating is so important, wether it is an AI or natural service. When it gets close to breeding season (2 or 3 months out), we put out clip boards with each female's info on it, and everyone puts down their ideas. We consider phenotype, EPDs, previous offspring, current marketability, etc. When it comes time to breed, the family member that actually owns the animal makes the final call, even my 14 year old sister is the final decision on her cattle ( a good learning experience).
 
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