Warning: Buying high growth bulls may threaten your profitability

Warning: Buying high growth bulls may threaten your profitability

Breeders and commercial producers keen to purchase high growth bulls should be aware they may cause future calving problems that may reduce your profitability.

But buying low growth bulls instead is not the answer either. It’s true that the progeny of low growth bulls may be more easily born, but these calves may show poor growth and struggle to meet market expectations.

Too much growth may mean calving problems; too little growth may disappoint at market.

Breeders and commercial producers need to balance birth weight and growth when it comes to selecting the sires that are most likely to help them achieve their business goals. But how? Rockley’s powerful Birth Weight EBVs can help you choose the right bulls for your herd.

It may be tempting to purchase high growth bulls, but the reality is they tend to produce higher birth weight calves, which lead to calving difficulties (dystocia) that are costly for your business. Calving difficulties result in reduced profitability from increased calf and heifer deaths, slower re-breeding performance and extra costs associated with vets and labour.

We want our clients to purchase the right bulls for their herd. This is why we are submitting calf birth weight measurements to BREEDPLAN to provide Birth Weight EBVs for the bulls we sell from our registered herd. As a result, our clients will be better equipped to buy bulls that will enhance their business.

How Birth Weight EBVs can benefit your business

Birth Weight EBVs are estimates, expressed in kilograms, of genetic differences between animals in calf birth weight. Small or moderate birth weight EBVs are more favourable. For example:

If you have a bull with a Birth Weight EBV of +1 kg, you would expect him to produce lighter calves at birth – reducing the risk of troublesome births – than a bull with a Birth Weight EBV of +5 kg.

In turn, you need to be mindful that lower Birth Weight EBVs animals will generally have lower overall growth potential. As we have always said, it important to take a balanced approach, in this case between birth weight and growth.

Birth weights and growth traits are highly heritable, and our clear objective here at Rockley is to pursue sires that have the genetics to provide low birth weight progeny that show fast early growth and taper off in their mature weight. Known as ‘curve benders’, such calves are easier to maintain while also meeting, if not exceeding, market standards.

We ourselves have purchased sires whose progeny have caused calving difficulties and we have experienced first-hand the frustration of losing of high value stud animals as a result. I have spoken with many producers about the possibility of recording birth weights and the general perception is that it’s too difficult or time-consuming. But at Rockley we like a challenge, particularly when our extra effort will benefit our clients.

We are confident that the Birth Weight EBVs that result from our recording of birth weight information will become a powerful tool in preventing avoidable losses and thereby helping our clients achieve their business goals.

To talk further about how you can use Birth Weight EBVs please contact me (Ashley) on 0408 780 810.

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