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Optimizing sire selection for beef producers

Optimizing sire selection for beef producers

By Scout Nelson

In a recent episode of the Cattle Chat podcast, experts from the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University discussed the intricacies of selecting sires for beef production. The focus was on choosing bulls that are well-suited as sires for mating with first-calf heifers, with an emphasis on retaining female calves as replacement heifers in the herd.

Bob Weaber, a beef cattle geneticist and head of K-State's Eastern Kansas Research Extension program, emphasized the significance of using comprehensive data in the selection process.

"When it comes to heifer matings, it is important to look at the potential sires’ calving ease direct EPD (Expected Progeny Difference), but I also recommend using a selection index as part of the sire selection process," Weaber said.

He explained that selection indexes, which are composed of multiple data inputs, provide a broader perspective than single-trait data points like EPD.

The discussion also highlighted the practical benefits of using these selection indexes. "Many producers are looking to manage mature cow size and lactation potential to control maintenance and production costs and that is where using selection indexes can help," noted Weaber.

This approach helps balance growth and performance pressures with cost considerations, making it a crucial strategy for economic efficiency.

K-State veterinarian Bob Larson concurred, noting the accessibility of this data. He pointed out that beef breed associations and artificial insemination bull studs provide the necessary data for producers engaged in the sire selection process. Larson emphasized the importance of choosing a bull with a high maternal index for creating replacement heifers.

Weaber also described his method for utilizing this data effectively. "Start the search to find the index for the best-performing animals to meet the marketing endpoint and then sort that sub-group for the single trait that you are most concerned about," he advised. By prioritizing the maternal index and then calving ease direct, producers can focus on the most economically important traits for their operations.

This guidance from K-State experts underscores the importance of strategic sire selection in enhancing the productivity and sustainability of beef herds.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-pamwalker68

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Categories: Kansas, Livestock, Beef Cattle

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