When discussing Cattle and genetics inevitably you will hear people point towards their registered stock and the EPD's. These are very important advances in genetic technology but they exist in a vacuum. The Nature vs Nurture debate could not be more pronounced than in current times. We are all scurrying around trying to find the ultimate set of genetics to create the perfect Bull or Cow but somehow these genes have to come from somewhere.
If you look at incredibly successful people for instance you see that sometimes kids carry the traits of their parents. Sometimes as parents we feel that they only carry the traits we don’t really like in ourselves. Look at Tiger Woods the famous golfer his father was never better than slightly above average as a golfer, Michael Jordan's dad never played college basketball. Bill Gates parents are not tech titans of industry. This not only applies to athletes and business people but every other area of possible "successful" breeding. Genetics are more random and have many outcomes to create what you see every day. We also have to be careful in playing god and removing certain genes from the DNA to attempt to create a superior being of any sort. Humans have proven to be especially meddlesome when it comes to genetics in plants and animals in recent years. This has spurred another debate in increasing the production of corn and what the unintended consequences are. Does the genetically modified corn ingested by the animal alter their phenotype or genetic code for production. This is highly debatable and will not be solved anytime soon. Nature generally wins this approach in the long term since it will be here after we are gone and was here before us.
The whole notion of registered stock and breed standards was brought about in the middle ages to allow non royalty to have something that they could hold onto as their claim to perfection. This is when specific breeds of animals were "created" within subsets of existing animal populations. Dogs became Spaniels, Terriers, and Hounds. Cows became Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Red Devon, South Polls, Charolais, Bahama and so on. This also allows a group of people to sit around collect fees and judge what perfect is. The move towards specific breeds was also a way to differentiate between different hide colors, size and other factors. Most of the breeds that people get so giddy about were heavily line bred in order to create that fantastic predictability. This also creates and reveals many genetic disorders in every breed of animal. Genetics are a hot topic and always will be because there is substantial money to be made by owning the superior "breed standard". There is a great deal of money involved in creating great seedstock and all of these producers will tell you that they have to cull just like everyone else. No animal will ever be perfect in every way because what is perfect today will not be tomorrow. What is going to be popular in the future? Red Hides, Black, White, Mottled, Short and fat, tall and leggy, White faces, Longer ears, shorter tails, White udders, High Fat, Low Fat, Corn Fed, Grass Fed, Barley fed, Seaweed, Apple Cider Vinegar. Who knows really but one thing is for certain and that the only constant in life is change. And the popular genetics today will be different sooner than later. But as long as people keep eating beef we can continue to argue about what creates the best beef.
So that takes us right into the heart of the argument for either side of this debate. You can decide which you would like to believe. We take the greatest Bull of all time that someone pays a million dollars for because he is the exactly perfect model of what every rancher wants currently. We buy his straws of semen and AI our cows with it and some of the offspring are great, some are average, and some are culls just like any other quality bull. Nature has a way of putting the brakes on genetic superiority. Sometimes what looks great on paper and in pictures is the best you will ever see of that animal. To us at Ivy Croft we operate under the premise that our cattle have to perform on the pasture. If you buy a bull that can only maintain body condition when pumped full of feed and medicine how are the offspring ever supposed to reach their full genetic potential. If you continue to breed a cow that has to have her calf pulled every year are you going to keep her heifers and build a herd around her. Bulls do have heritable traits they pass on to future generations and genetics do play a role. But just because you have a beautiful herd on paper does not mean you have a functioning and productive herd on pasture. One of the greatest lessons you can ever learn in business is sunk costs never matter, So if you have a non performing unit in your herd pull them out immediately and take it table regardless of cost to purchase. This is a hard lesson to learn but ultimately one of the best when attempting to be successful at anything. Do not let the emotion of past purchase price cloud the future decision making process.
Genetics YouTube lessons are below. These are very important tools for selecting animals for your particular environment. You should always look to purchase replacement and breeding stock from those producers who have a similar environment to what you have. Your own cattle on your farm or ranch will become more suited to your own individual management style and environment. So if you are looking for battle tested cattle who thrive on pasture consider purchasing cattle from Ivy Croft. Check our IC Cattle for sale page or contact us directly and we would be more than happy to help you on your journey to creating your own herd of cattle.