Maine Futures

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red

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Jbarl- I'm going to try this topic again because I think there were some good discussions going.

Do I see a future as a Maine breeder? Yes, I think that the AMMA has set-up to the plate as much as possible. Since the test is fairly new, we're still a testing phase. We know most of the lines that carry the defects, so if you're wanting clean genetics, you need to be aware of those bloodlines. The AMMA has taken a stance w/ the Denver sale that no carriers will be sold. Do I think they'll ban carrier cattle from shows? I doubt it's going to be in the present. We might see it down the road when less carrier cattle are available.
If I was breeder of another breed- of course I'd tell people about PHA/TH. Don't you always play up the qualities of your own breed & discount the others? How often do we mention certain breeds having large birth weights, make poor mothers or have disposition problems? It's human nature. I just hope that they also make clear that w/ the test buyers can make sure they are buying a clean bull or cow.
Bottom line is buy always from a reputable seller or sale. Do your homework & make sure any breed is right for you. All breeds carry some potential problems/defects. Who knows what the next one that might come down the line?
Will I be a Maine breeder? Yes, I love my good natured Maine cows. I like both the red & blacks ones. Love their mothering ability. The way they look in a show & how they cross w/ other breeds. I'll be a Maine breeder defects or no defects.

Red
 

knabe

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missed out on the first attempt.  i know i don't count as a breeder, but here's my comments.  i see a future because there is so much diversity in the maine breed that has practical application.  there are lines that are both fb and pb that address bw, growth, carcass, mothering, fertility, source of hybrid vigor, bone, foot, etc.  like anything, it is always harder to change course rather than go along.  such will be the case for commercial operators to purchase maine bulls.  i asked just this question to 3 old timers out here who raise commercial cattle, one a retained ownership feeder.  they remember the giant course boned maines of 25-30 years ago.  they have no opportunity to see mains today in california except at shows their kids participate in inthe AOB category, and some are usually black and white.  they said they don't want those, rather have solid blacks, concerned about soundness, as cows in CA are getting pushed to the hills and having too much milk for the environment and worry about breed backs.  they are worried about size as it cost money to ship corn to CA.  asked whether they would just try a maine they said they needed to see some proof, either on the rail, or being able to survive in the hills.  sounds like an add for major's money man to me. one guy feeds 50% holsteins, says he can get them cheap and they mysteriously marble more consistently than other cattle he can get for the same price.  another guy purchases cow culls from dairies and feeds those, as he said they usually fatten up pretty quickly and they can sell them to all those high quality end markets.  i'm going to place two heifers in a commercial herd for just this purpose, not that i'm looking to expand, just for curiosity and an outlet to sell more meat without the purebred cost.
 

chambero

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From a Texas Perspective:

I assume what we're really talking about here is the commercial world since that is where the real dollars are.  There's lots of PR about your high selling purebred and show cattle, but sales of those animals in any breed are dwarfed by the volume of commercial sales. 

In the grand scheme of things, there aren't that many Maines down here relative to other breeds.  Regardless of trends, there has always been and most likely always will be a strong commercial market for black, heavy muscled cattle, that will grade.  Maine's fit that niche so there is good demand for them when they can be found.

Commercial breeders down here raising black cattle deal with lots of brahman-influenced animals, some Limis and Simis, and some Maines to a lesser extent.  For your average rancher, the visible "warts" that people put up with (i.e. extreme wildness, calving trouble, etc) in Brahman and Limi cattle aren't enough to scare them off of those.  So, the perceived stigma associated with a recessive gene doesn't get their attention too much.  I still don't know of anyone outside the show industry that has had a PHA calf.  So in reality, its a non-issue to 99% of the marketplace down here.  Lots of breeds have had their defects of the years and this isn't regarded any differently.  All large breeders lose some cows and calves every year during calving for a variety of reasons so PHA and TH really are not on the radar screen at all.

That being said, it wouldn't take too many instances of PHA calves to send someone running away.  Any unhappy customer, in any business, on average tell about a dozen people about their experience.  Chis still have a pretty good stigma with the commercial breeder down here because of the ridiculously wild ones that were around in the 70s and 80s. 

Luckily, the PHA issue started being addressed before it was too common in the "outside" world.  Most breeders are always worried about inbreeding so they are buying cattle from lots of different places anyway.  This practice in itself dramatically limited the potential for spread of the problem.  If most PHA affected calves are actually aborted as suspected, that also limited the visibility of the problem.  There again, a certain percentage of cows are going to slough calves anyway.

So, I don't think irreparable damage was done to the Maine breed by PHA from a commercial standpoint.  We raise Maine-cross cattle and have feedlots competing with one another for our cattle.  Club calf lines reportedly don't make good commercial cattle.  I haven't observed that either in practice, at least not in our animals.

This issue will go away by the painless approach of ceasing to use carrier bulls.  Nothing drastic including culling cow herds is necessary from my point of view. 
 

DL

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OK - I confess - I pulled the previous thread - for this I have been both heralded and vilified - proving once again that Abe Lincoln was a very smart man.

We as planet dwellers usually do a good job of policing ourselves - in this case I believe we failed and I would place the primary blame with the moderators. While the different opinions on PHA in Maines and the industry were interesting (and as always very different) the thread deteriorated and became snide and personal - most of us left other places because of the snide and personal.

For all of you who wrote thoughtful comments in response to JbarL about PHA I apologize for removing the thread - I know that I am way on the left of center in the PHA controversy - and I also admit that I have the luxury of being in that place. Since I am not in the shoes of those of you who have carrier females I can't walk in those shoes  and I can't tell you what I would do. I know that we all struggled with what to do and it isn't the same for any of us - one has to consider not only what is best for the breed, but what is best for a particular operation - financially, emotionally, etc

I would like to reiterate that I know we all struggled with our decisions and the reason I pulled the thread had NOTHING to do with various opinions or options or decisions regarding carrier animals - the reason I pulled the thread was that it degenerated in to a snotty little place reminiscent of days past - hopefully all of us, especially the moderators, can do a better job of being kind and civil in the future - I sure as heck will try! ;D
 

red

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DL- please stop it. you are really better than this. I just started the thread again for a good discussion.
Please, let it go.

Red
 

Show Heifer

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Chambero: My experience has been completely different. But of course, I am surrounded by maine breeders. Big ones at that.  And they DO NOT reveal carriers. I know several commercial cattleman that bought bulls which turned out to be carriers (before the test) then saved heifers, and bought another maine bull (again before test) and guess what? Had some PHA calves.  Yes, I told them what it was, what caused it, and was also the first to tell them when a test came out (not sure why, I'm not a maine breeder - but I sure like my neighbors!!! And some of the vets here didn't know about it yet.). But like I said before, many maine breeders around here either don't test, or dump their really nice "maine cross"  carriers animals at a special sale (not a sanctioned sale - but like a commercial salebarn special) where cattleman are looking to buy 10-50 head of females, not one show heifer.  These guys got burnt once, and I can promise you, they won't get burnt again. One switched to angus (didn't buy one from me) another to red angus (again not from me) yet another to Hereford (way, not from me). What will it get to switch them back? Don't know. Test didn't seem to help, maybe time.  That has been the experience HERE. Can't speak for anywhere else. Heck, maybe it is a regional thing.

That is what the limi's lived through. Went from the "God awful, high headed, rip snorting, through the fence" cattle, to those "really nice lean, long lasting cows that are great milkers."  Yes, it took YEARS, but it happened, and the breed survived. A lot of really nice, fancy, pretty, growthy cattle got their heads cut off due to their attitude. That's what it took to rid the limis of their reputation, so that is what SOME of the limi breeders did (for the most part - I am sure not ALL of them did it)

I will not take away the fact that maines are nice looking, have great gainablility, have good carcasses and are good mommas, but right now, I think that is being overshadowed right now.

But like someone said earlier (sorry forgot who said it) dead calves don't have a very good weaning weight. And that is all my commercial neighbors remember.

So, to the orginal question: Maines have a future, although (IMVVVHO) it is a bit dim right now. But with dedication, good breeding choices they will raise again. Have no doubt about that.

Smiles all around!!! :) :) :)  Lets go to my ice cream thread!!! (dog) (dog)
 

DL

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In regards to Maines and the commercial cattle industry I believe we have a long way to go.

Correct me if I am wrong, but according to the recent NCBA data none of the top ten (by numbers) seedstock producers in the US raise Maines (last year I think there was one) and none or only one of the top 25 commercial operations uses Maines.

When you look at the exotics that arrives in the 60s and 70s (limmies, Simmies, Charolais, Gelbvieh, chis etc) several of those breeds have flourished in the commercial cattle segment, and I believeit in in part due to excellent marketing and also responding to demand.

For example read any NCBA publication, any throw away beef journal and there is an ad for Simmie and Sim -Angus with data to support their contention that they have dealt with the birth weight/calving issues. MA ads are few and far between in national magazines, and the current ad IMHO has a show promotion look - is not geared toward the commercial cattleman.

I think the AMAA has attempted to promote Maine cattle to the commercial segment but it has only been marginally successful. Like chambero says temperament and mothering ability don't mean much when you start having PHA calves.

You all know my stand on selling PHA carrier bulls - I think it is bad for the breed and certainly not a good thing for the commercial cattleman.
 

Telos

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DL, I'm really glad you pulled my posts. The grammar was so bad it made me cringe. I seem to always have trouble with the adjectives and adverbs.

Seriously...I along with everyone else appreciate not only your knowledge but equally your wisdom. DL, you're the reason I'm on SteerPlanet if you can remember that far back. I would not be on here writing this without your motivation. Like you said, you're not in their shoes, but at the same time feel it's not too difficult to visualize what it might be like. You lucked out, I was broke during the Draft Pick frenzy(still am) but some like Gypsy and many others got caught in the middle of all this. I don't know what I would do if I had 5 cows and 2 were carriers other then try to figure a way to make them work for me. They would have been too expensive of an investment to just take them to town plus they would have maybe been good productive cows.

...and DL,you already know about my obsessive compulsive behavior. Last night being a bit emotional because some others seemed emotional... well I started to run some Maine pedigrees. Polled Pursuit, Hard Core, Midas, Moneyman, Paydirt and some others which I don't remember and saw they all had some Dalton genetics in their pedigree. As we all know now Dalton is is a PHAC. Now these are some of the most used and some of the best bulls the breed has to offer and though they are free of the PHA gene go back to a carrier. I counted 5 shots of Dalton in Moneyman's pedigree. A bull you like. To me, this proves carriers have potential merit. I don't think you can ship all or even a small portion of carriers to town. It just ain't going to happen. People are going to use them or sell them to someone else. That is just being realistic.

I've also said PHA is not so much about a genetic defect anymore. To me is more about people and trying to understand why some do what they do. It's about stepping back and trying to figure out all the how's, what's and why's. It's also about full disclosure and realizing what an evil sin it is to keep vital information hidden from innocent hard working people.

I hope you don't think I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth, but just trying to objective and perhaps becoming more realistic.
 

DL

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Hey Telos - hope you are having a good day! I remember well the pedigree frenzies when we were all looking feverishly at our pedigrees for the "culprit of the day!" - trying to figure out exactly what/who we should breed to - hoping that the gene would be found and the test developed - wishing some people with members of the "informed pedigree" would step up to the plate and provide samples to help in the gene hunt - if you remember I  even used (OH NO) an Angus bull - nice steer calf, although I believe he has his daddy's approach to life  ;D

I have pretty much stopped skulking thru pedigrees (ok maybe to keep up with the great chef I'll have to start again) but I do like Midas, and I do like Paydirt and since I have cows bred to Money Man I hope I like him too!

While I agree with you that there may have been merit to carriers way back when - I really haven't seen a carrier bull that I think is so very special that he needs to be propagated - and I believe the same can be said (by me) about flushing carrier cows - I also know that I am in the minority with that opinion and that is just the way it is.

Like you said I was lucky to dodge a bullet (some with my luck had run out  ;D) but I never got turned on to Draft Pick and I never was looking for the "great one" - so that helped a bit. I think it is sort of ironic that the only time I ever used a carrier bull (and of course we didn't know then) was as a last ditch effort to get 2 cows pregnant or else - and I was rewarded with 2 heifers - an excellent PHAF heifer bred now to Midas and a decent PHAC heifer who will forever be a recip. Like I said before I cannot in good conscience sell carrier heifers or bulls and I have the luxury of being able to make that decision. It was not an easy one but it was the only one I could make.

I do however have a great concern re the commercial angle of things - we as a breed made some strides with the birth weight/calving ease  issue - this could set us back if we are not  incredibly proactive. I appreciate those individuals who sell bulls to commercial cattlemen who took the step to sell only PHAF bulls - you can't legislate morality (or stupidity for that matter ;D) but the cattlemen who made the decision to sell only PHAF bulls showed to me that they really do care about the breed and the future of the breed --- good to talk to you as always!
 
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