Focusing on five traits within the Red Angus breed - birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, marbling score and rib-eye area - the Dickinson Research Extension Center has set a goal that the average value for herd sire expected progeny differences (EPDs) should meet or exceed the Red Angus breed average EPD values.
As of Feb. 5, the Red Angus breed average within proven and opportunity sires for birth weight is minus 1.6 pounds, weaning weight is 55 pounds, yearling weight is 86 pounds, marbling score is 0.45 and the rib-eye area is 0.12 square inch.
The center's bulls that were born in 2008 and 2009 did meet the goals. The sire's average birth weight was minus 1.5 pounds, weaning weight was 57 pounds, yearling weight was 91 pounds, marbling score was 0.52 and rib-eye area was 0.33 square inch. As these bulls grew older, the replacements also are expected to meet or exceed the Red Angus breed average.
The center's bulls that were born in 2010 and 2011 averaged a minus 0.5 pound birth weight, weaning weight of 61 pounds, yearling weight of 104 pounds, marbling score of 0.43 and a rib- eye area of 0.38 square inches. These current sires are reflective of a desire to meet the center's goals and also think about the reality of buying bulls.
A review of the EPD values reveals that the center has decreased birth weight slightly but increased weaning and yearling weight. Along with the increased growth in the current sires, marbling decreased and rib-eye area increased.
Three traits moved in the right direction but two did not.
Although the center still is above the breed average for all the Red Angus growth and carcass traits of interest, the birth weight slipped below breed average. Although the center does not need to buy a Red Angus herd sire, the opportunity for artificial insemination (AI) certainly is a viable option to help adjust or further refine the center's Red Angus genetics.
A disclaimer is in order. Beef producers initially select a breed or type of bull they like and then develop working relationships with the various breeders, breeding companies and ultimately the breed organization that supports the chosen type of cattle. The Dickinson Research Extension Center utilizes several breeds and/or types of cattle and then develops relationships within each type or breed.
For today, I am going to highlight one of those relationships. It is not because one is better than another, but I simply want to show the center's process in selecting bulls. The point is to apply the process, not the actual bulls the center uses to develop one's own breeding program.