Wednesday, December 7, 2016

1418 reporting for duty

Time for the bulls to go out, early Dec mating gives us an early Sep start to calving.
I've drifted off calving earlier, an extra month just gives that bit extra breathing space around the seasonal grass growth pattern. Having calves a month live-weight behind is a small price to pay for better herd well-being, and less stress on the Management.
The winter-saved calving paddocks, closed from Jun 1st till Sep 1st, give me time to finish a few more lambs beforehand, the block grows 5-6000 dm by Sep to put the cows on for calving. 
Meanwhile they've run out on the hills till end Jun, come off them before they do too much pug damage into the sidling wintering block, where they'll get balage if they need it, 2 months there, then into the calving block.

So here's 1418, home bred 2yo bull, introduced to his yearling consort. You'll see a flash of white on the heifers, that comes from a Hereford I used over 10 years ago, the odd white head and foot lingers. Apart from the Hereford, haven't used an outside blood bull in over 20 years.
The herd isn't on an official recording system, I keep my own records, and I think things are ticking along quite well.
Here's why.....
Nessa Carey's Junk DNA and The Epigenetics Revolution move one to the view that "what you see is what you get" performance, unadulterated by correction and heritability equations could in fact be the best thing for breeders to be chasing. That outlier corrected out of the hunt by BLUP, could in fact be the individual with the epigenetic modulation of RNA expression to take the flock or herd to the next level of production.
I've devised my own system of cow lifetime production measure, based on mean annual ratio of weight of calf weaned, with penalty of zero for barren, 0.5 for wet/dry, and 0.75 for calf died.
One thing sticks out like the proverbial....
If there's one selection criterion a commercial breeder can hang his hat on, I think its early calving. These cows inevitably have the heaviest calves, and will be the most likely to do it again next year.
I have a selection index for young stock that adds this dam performance to the mean weaning and yearling wt ratio.
Works great......
1418 was 124% for his wng/yrlg ratio, and his dam 114% lifetime calf prod, 238% index.