Rat tail defect

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aj

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Have the simmental guys ever got a handle on the rat tail deal. I think it was a black simmental issue at one time. I heard if you bred a red angus to the black simmental commercial cattle you wouldn't get a rat tail. The rat tails were discounted in salebarns. I think they were godd cattle except they couldn't fight flys quite as good. Please excuse my spelling and lack of knowledge. Was the rat tail a angus deal or was it just in a line of black angus. I think bob dickenson won a pen of five feedlot cattle test to prove a point that they were good cattle. (dog) (dog) (dog)
 

afhm

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I think it is more of a Charolais cross problem.  Is seems that most of the rat tails I see are out of either charolais  and charolais cross cows bred to maine/club claf sires and vice versa.  Most I have seen are either siver bullets or Heat Waves.
 

genes

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It comes from a cross between black (so often angus, but not necessarily) and red Simmental.  The journal article I have on it says it can happen with dark reds as well as the lighter ones, but I still think the diluted ones have it happen more.  It comes from a gene where when the animal is black, you get rat tail, but the red animals it doesn't show, just waits there to be passed on.  If a red animal had 2 copies of the gene, that is all they would be able to pass on, and therefore, all their "black" calves would be rat tailed.  If they have just one copy, it's 50/50 chance.  But if you have a black simmental that looks like a normal black, then it doesn't have the gene.    I'm not sure if the people breeding black Simmentals just take this as a chance when crossing black X red, and send the rat ones down the road when they get them.  I know we have them periodically (in a mixed commercial herd), and we could prevent it by breeding red. But we natural breed everything and the bulls are all black now, and for us, just not worth the expense and effort to have someone out to AI one very plain commercial cow.  You can get docked for the rat tails for sure, but they are still edible :p

The rat tail syndrome affects more than just the tail...most notably, the way the hair is made.  It's short, fine, sparse and curly (and apparently really messed up under a microscope).  So there goes protection, like you said from bugs, and then also from the cold.  Plus they are butt ugly and while it shouldn't matter,  cattle buyers are human.....  How bad it is, though, can really vary.  Some of ours didn't look so bad, and as such weren't so hard doing, but a few are really awful.


I think I posted a picture a while back....don't know if I want to again....like I said, kind of embarrassing looking things. 



afhm....I have never seen or heard of a Char rat tail.....do you have pictures or can you describe it.  Maybe we are thinking of slightly different things.
 

afhm

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I haven't seen a purebred Charolais  rat tail just the crossbred offspring.  They have no tail switch  and the hair on their tail is short and curly.  A lot of times all of their hair is course and has some kink to it.  I don't have a picture.  Never had any problems with them feeding out though or winning.
 

kanshow

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Has anyone ever noticed that they seem to express in varying degrees?  Some have all the characteristics and others aren't so obvious?  Wasn't there some talk several years ago about less performance and lower carcass quality? 

We get about 1 every other year or so in our commercial cow herd.  We use all black bulls - Simmental or SimAngus on mostly black & red cows, there are a few grays  but we don't get the rats from the gray cows.  I don't know if it makes a difference but most of our red cows go back to either Hereford, Gelbvieh, or Limousin originally.    Anyway, with no more than what we get, they end up in our freezer and do quite well there. 

   

 

genes

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Definitely varies....some just have that colour and are pretty curly.  Others you can look at their back and clearly see skin with barely any hair.  How much of a problem this is, is obviously going to be influenced by the environment you are in.

afhm...still can't say I've seen it in Char, but it sounds similar.  Maybe it's just not common with them.

Ok here's where I posted the pictures.  Promise not to laugh....they are by definition a bad example.  On the side view you can really see how messed up the coat is.
http://www.steerplanet.com/bb/index.php?topic=597.msg4354#msg4354

 

afhm

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It's the same thing.  It is real prevelant in Heat Wave x charolais steers.  Sold some About Time's out of a 1/2 char cow that were the same way.  I have seen more with charolais than with simmy in them.
 

justintime

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I fed cattle for about 25 years and when we started we tried to stay away from buying " rat tail " cattle as we were told that they we very poor feeders.
At almost every feeder sale I went too, there would be several of these grey rat tail steers. They were Charolais X Black Angus combinations and often times they were very thick made, attractive calves, except they had the rat tail, which was usually accompanied by short curly hair on the body.
One fall, I decided to feed one pen of 250 head of so called " zoo" cattle and compare the gains and economicsd against the so called " good feeding " cattle . We were feeding about 1500 head at the time, and the zoo pen was the most profitable pen by a long shot. We were selling all cattle on the rail so color was not an issue. Many of the rat tails were purchased for as much as a 40 cent discount, yet they gained almost as good as our very best feeder cattle. In my test the rat tails did .15 LB less per day than the so called good steers . I received the same price on the rail for all cattle if they graded and usually these second cut feeders made the grades. In this test, we made more profit from the 250 head of zoo cattle than we did the 1250 head of so-called " good feeders". From this point onwards, I was not afraid to buy rat tail calves, if they could be bought right.

Much of the profit was made in purchasing the cattle. I was told by a very experienced cattle feeder that you can make more money buying cattle than you ever will selling cattle, and this was certainly true in this case. It was almost criminal how discriminatory the cattle buyers were... and still are. I will always remember one steer in the zoo pen that I bought at a feeder sale for 8 cents a lb. He weighed 570 but was totally blind in one eye and at least partially blind in the other ( from having  pinkeye in both eyes). Once he was in the pen he learned real quick where the feed bunk was and where the water fountain was. He gained over 4.5 lb/ day and was sent to the packing plant on the first shipment out. He netted us a profit of over $550. 
 

cowz

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Yes, we had a discussion on here about rat tail calves a while back and Charolais x Angus or Charolais x Maine crosses are susceptible.  Here is an article that also has a picture of a rat tail.  I will try to find a better picture too.   

http://home.austin.rr.com/doublehelix/defects.html

This link has some very informative articles:    http://www.beefcowcalf.com/pubs/Topics/Breeding_and_Genetics/Congenital_Defects/
 

ELBEE

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Justintime, it makes me boilin mad to know how much those traders have made off the Simmy, Maine, and Shorty red & white marked cattle over the years. That profit is how they stayed in business feeding straight line angus! We've cut them out completely here, and go straight to the consumer. Wish I could corner the market on big fat cigars, and inflate the price 1000x's.
 

garybob

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I thought the rat tail effect wa sthe result of "blackXdiluter gene,regardless of breed". Big deal in Gelbviehs, too.
 
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