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Selecting Sires for Horns and More

By Russell Hooks



In an earlier article we discussed selecting for more than just horn in Longhorn females. Now let’s talk about Longhorn bulls. Some breeders think the tape measure is the answer to selecting the best bull. Once again that is not the case. There are numerous bulls in the industry that are in the 70” horn club; they are the “hot sires” of the day.  These young bulls have tons of horn and you cannot open up a Longhorn magazine without seeing an ad about one of these “great sires”.  But what actually makes a great sire?  PRODUCTION!  CONSISTENCY!  PREDICTABLE GENETICS!  Most of these hot ticket sires are so young that their only offspring are still babies.  Before I load my program (and the programs I consult for) down with these “popular and highly promoted genetics” I want to see some mature offspring.  Will some of these “hot sires” of today make a lasting positive mark on the industry?  Yes they will, but history has shown us that the percentage is very small.  I have seen too many “fad bulls” come and go in this industry during my thirty years in Longhorns.  As breeders, we need to develop a breeding plan that utilizes proven genetics instead of chasing fads.  If you chase the fads you will more than likely always find yourself one step behind.  Think about it, bull X is the bull of the moment – the one everyone is talking about. You AI your cows to him, it takes about 1-2 months to AI the cows, then nine months for the calves to hit the ground and they turn out pretty nice.  Now six to seven months later the calves are weaning age; you could sell some of them now but we all know that weanlings do not sell as well as two year olds.  So you hold these calves until they are twenty four months old.  The time frame is a total of approximately 35 months and the chances are good that by then there is another “hot ticket” bull. You have missed that small window of market opportunity.  I have observed that most of the “fad” bulls are only able to ride that popularity trailer for about 3-4 years and then they start to lose traction.  This is usually about the time their offspring are reaching maturity and they can now be fully evaluated on traits such as long term horn growth, fertility and milking ability.  I have seen “super sires” that have put offspring on the ground that show rapid early horn growth, but when they reach three to four years of age it slows dramatically and other sires’ calves that where showing less horn growth at a young age have caught up with the “super” sires’ calves.  In some cases the “super” sire is inconsistent in his offspring, some have great horn and some are average or even below average.  Now the “super” sire’s offspring are no different than any other good sire. When you are searching for a sire always ask yourself “how will his genetics benefit my herd, is it just his popularity I am interested in or can he help improve the overall quality of my herd over the long term”.  Click Here for complete article 

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