Angus VNR: A Focus on the Cow and the Carcass Can Coexist
A live calf is priority number one. But a live calf that stands out for excellence for all of its life and legacy? That’s the pinnacle.
“If they don't get bred, it doesn't matter how good their EPD for any one trait is. And so that tells me that it's a no brainer that anytime that we can collect data for a trait that drives profit, we need to do it,” says Matt Perrier, Dalebanks Angus Ranch.
For decades, Perrier has sent in breeding records to the American Angus Association to inform fertility tools that predict heifer pregnancy and other maternal traits.
“That data has value. Yes, reproductive efficiencies and lowly heritable traits, but with enough data we have proven through the years, in the Angus breed, that we can amass large amounts of good solid data. And even on low to moderate heritability types of traits like fertility, we can move the needle. And it takes all environments, and it takes all producers that we can get, to send that data in to make the most value for those EPDs and those genetic predictions from that data,” Perrier says.
That does not mean his Dalebanks Angus Ranch ignores marbling in its quest to have a maternal program.
“But that's one thing we've tried to do, is put selection pressure on both of those. Calf fertility, early breed back, low nutrition amounts and acceptable performance in those cattle, and yet still have above average marbling, above average rib eye area and above average performance,” Perrier continues.
It takes work. Focus. And a study of the numbers.
“It's not easy to make sustained progress in multiple traits regardless. So I don't subscribe to the theory that you either got to have high carcass value cattle that are poor maternal or high maternal cattle that don't grow and don't grade. I think we can have acceptable, if not above average levels of both. But I do think that if you just pick one of those, maternal or carcass value, and don't pay attention to the other there's no doubt you will have one without the other,” he says.
Each year, he looks at market signals, data from his herd and his customers and then starts selecting sires. Monitoring all economically important traits equally keeps Dalebanks Angus moving in the right direction.