As we begin 2013, it is a good time to reflect on the successes of the year just past. It is also a great time to commit to plans for the New Year. If you’re a seedstock producer, those plans should include performance record collection. If you are a commercial cow-calf producer you should also collect some key performance records to use in management and bull battery evaluation. All too often in our busy schedules, performance record collection is viewed as a ‘chore’ and not a mission critical activity.
Complete documentation of your cattle’s performance should be your objective as a seedstock producer. Some early planning and scheduling will help to focus effort and commitment on the performance testing of your cattle. Listed below (Table 1) are the some of the traits you should collect.
Once you collect the data make sure you transcribe it to appropriate forms or software and report the information to your breed association(s). After all, data stored away in a file never becomes useful information. Some of the measures (i.e. body condition score) also serve useful management purposes in addition to use in computation of genetic predictors.
If you are a commercial cow-calf producer, align your data collection with your marketing endpoint to aid in evaluation of previous sire selection decisions. Additionally, focus data collection efforts on areas that are high impact and low cost. Traits like mature weight and body condition score not only provide important information about your cow’s genetics, these measures are also very helpful in monitoring current and future feed allocation.
It’s important to recognize and seize opportunities for data collection. For instance, individual calf weaning weights could easily be replaced by draft weights if you only need to compute total calf production for herd level data analysis. If you have a large number of cattle, draft weights will be much easier and less expensive to collect. If you happen to have a small herd, collection of individual weights may be very easy. So, go ahead and pull out that brand new 2013 calendar and schedule dates for performance data collection.
More information on standardized performance record collection procedures is available at: http://www.beefimprovement.org/PDFs/guidelines/Guidelines-9th-Edition.pdf.