Bull Selection For The Beef Cattle Herd
Bull selection depends on the type of cows to be bred and the
objectives of the producer. The best bull for one herd will not necessarily be a good choice for another herd.
Following are three examples of how the herd situation can affect bull selection.
Beef Cattle Breeder #1 has a
small herd of crossbred cows. He works in town during the day and has a limited amount of time to spend with the
cattle. He has at best average pastures with limited facilities and needs to use the same bull on both heifers and
mature cows. For producer 1, calving ease would be of major importance, so low birth weight EPDs would be
necessary. This producer may have to accept somewhat lower weaning and yearling weight EPDs to find a low birth
weight bull. With his pasture situation, average milk to moderately low milk production would be acceptable.
Producer 1 would want to avoid extremes in frame. With limited facilities, disposition would also be a major
Beef Cattle Breeder #2 has an average size herd of medium frame crossbred
cattle that works well under his management situation. He has good pastures and needs a bull to breed to mature
cows in a rotational crossbreeding program. Producer 2 would balance moderate birth weight EPDs against higher
weaning and yearling EPDs. He would be willing to accept somewhat higher birth weight than Producer 1 in order to
get higher weaning and yearling EPDs. With good pastures, moderately high milk EPDs may be desirable. Since his
cows are working well in their environment, a bull of similar frame and muscle would be chosen.
Beef Cattle Breeder #3 has a large herd of medium frame cattle and plans
to breed some of his mature cows to a terminal sire. All of these calves will be placed in the feedlot. Producer 3
will want to maximize weaning and yearling weight EPDs. He will have a higher tolerance for birth weight than
either Producer 1 or 2, but he will still avoid bulls with extremely high birth weight EPDs. Since all heifers are
going into the feedlot, milk EPDs are not a factor. A larger framed bull may be desirable to produce a specific
carcass weight. A heavy muscled bull would also be desirable.
In the above examples, these producers with three different herds and
objectives would choose three different bulls. Setting goals and evaluating the cow herd are important first steps
in bull selection.