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Bob H



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Location : SW Idaho

PostSubject: Natural selection   Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:58 pm

I would like to start a new post and get input of how to use natural selection to improve inbred lines of cattle. In nature with buffalo, elk and deer there has to be allot of inbreeding go on and would like to use the mind's of this site to help me better understand what we as individuls can and cannot do. Thanks Bob
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Dylan Biggs



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:12 am

Bob H, I was just thinking today about the wild herd of cattle on the Aleutian Island of Chirikof. There for more then a 100 years, no fences, no feeding, no castrating, you name it, virtually no human intervention. A population that consists of 50% intact males. Breeding apparently can be a fatal affair with young heifers being mobed by virtually a herd of bulls. Total numbers of somewhere around 1000 animals, if I recall correctly. Had a visit with a gal about 3 years ago that had what at that time was current video and photos of the cattle from the people she knew personally that were slaughtering some of the cattle in a small abattoir on the island. Very interesting.

This situation is probably as close to natural selection as you are going to get, ven though some cattle over the years have been removed from the population.

Relative to this "wild" standard I am not sure there is anything people can "do" that would not be an adulteration of this "natural" system. Just a fence, or removal of one animal, may be unnatural.

So to me the first step is to set a standard, or come up with a definition for "natural" selection.
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Mean Spirit



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:08 am

I'd guess the closest to "natural selection" would be favoring the ones that are most fertile and who best thrive in the environment. It sez here that doing this necessarily means selecting the least homozygous , on average, animals as keepers. Strictly applied, I'd expect you'd be regularly culling your most inbred animals if you practice natural selection. So if there is a goal of maintaining some level of inbreeding in the herd, I'd think you might have to adjust somewhat.
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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:57 am

This is a subject that keeps me looking over my shoulder at nature to see if I'm making any big mistakes breeding cattle. Nature to me is balance. Not too much, but not too little either. Nature doesn't have to pay bills so it makes easier but we sometimes make it harder than it has to be so we can pay more bills.

Here is how I look at animals in general but especially cattle for this discussion. Every animal is born from nature with 10 pots of gold in them. Nature has put 10 pieces of gold into each pot. Maybe a few more in the maternal and structure pots than in the growth and carcass pots but pretty evenly split and they are split for one purpose, survival. No matter what we do as breeders, we can't increase the number of gold coins from 100, all we do is move them around. As we try to put more into say the growth or carcass pots, we have to take those coins from some other pot and as we do those other pots or traits suffer. Most aggrandizing breeders would have producers believe that they have figured out a way to make more coins and they have been able to add to certain pots without stealing from any other pots. I believe time and time again they have been proved wrong. Way back in the depths of that animals genes there is a voice of nature saying I will not allow any more coins, some day your survival will depend on it. With our management improvements we are able to move coins into the growth and carcass pots without seeing a big hit on the survival pots but at what cost? If those animals were forced to survive on their own, nature would redistribute those coins pretty fast and pretty ruthlessly too.

I know this is simple and it works in my mind.

As far as inbreeding goes I think it was RobertMac that said this winter in on of these discussions that he thinks a wild population will inbreed to a certain point of regression until a more heterozigous animal moves in from out of the area and easily takes over from the regressed inbred animal there by keeping inbred regression to a certain level. I hope I got that right. Anyway it made sense to me.
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Mean Spirit



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:40 am

Mean Spirit wrote:
I'd guess the closest to "natural selection" would be favoring the ones that are most fertile and who best thrive in the environment. It sez here that doing this necessarily means selecting the least homozygous , on average, animals as keepers. Strictly applied, I'd expect you'd be regularly culling your most inbred animals if you practice natural selection. So if there is a goal of maintaining some level of inbreeding in the herd, I'd think you might have to adjust somewhat.

I guess I should clarify. Obviously, if the herd is closed and already either inbred or set up for inbreeding ( ie, all cattle are fairly close pedigree relatives), then you obviously won't lose some degree of inbreeding over time. But I think the most inbred on average will fall out if subjected to a strict cull based on close to "natural" constraints- the most inbred will be the least fit for survival, and least fertile.

Might be a really good way to make the most inbred sustainable population. But you'd be fighting evolution to try to get cattle that are all very inbred. The tendency would be toward heterozygotes.

Some smart guy who knows about stuff like effective population size and hardy Weinberg and stuff like that might be able to help out here. Just how inbred is a healthy and genetically sustainable closed herd of bison?
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Bob H



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:50 am

Thank you Mean Spirit that is what I am interested in also. The cattle on the Aluetiion Island are also of interest to me I wonder if they calve on 12 month intervals to make them sustainalble in today's world.
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Mean Spirit



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:00 am

I'd bet that the aleutian cows have little respect for a 12 month calving interval. Just talking out my ass (again!!!), but I'd think a good enough cow in the aleutian herd is one who manages to replace herself in her lifetime. That might mean one fertile female of breeding age returned to the herd before she dies. I don't think you have to be a diamond dam of distinction or a pathfinder to meet nature's standard for good. Of course, BobH and Mrs BobH and family are going to get real hungry with a herd of such cows!
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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:38 pm

Jack, you are in dangerous territory using me as a reference!

I believe regression is not a factor in nature. The only game in nature is survival to propagate to survive and propagate. The alternative is extinction. The Aleutian Island cattle have been through the cycle for over 100 years with no new genetics for heterozygosis. Wouldn't it be logical that they have 'used up' all their "regression" and they are what they are? And what did they regress from and does that matter to nature?
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Bob H



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:03 pm

What I would like is the opinion's from this forum if we start with 300 females from linebed parentage and 16 bulls of the same parentage. Use a calving minimum of 14 months, no less than 20% of medium for weight at weaning. Sell all open females and any bulls that are deemed unfit to breed. Use the average of their enviroment as the means for the input with supplementation if if the mean fall's 25%. Use this project for 20 years where do you folks think that this would end up with this criteria placed with natural selection.
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Tom



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:40 pm

Has anyone heard of this http://www.alaskameat.com/. Apparently they harvest wild cattle off Sitkinak island that have been there since 1937. They have some cattle photos. The pictured ones look better than I would expect.
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Grassfarmer



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Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:10 pm

Tom wrote:
Has anyone heard of this http://www.alaskameat.com/. Apparently they harvest wild cattle off Sitkinak island that have been there since 1937. They have some cattle photos. The pictured ones look better than I would expect.

Are these the cattle that Pharo was showing in his literature to illustrate the fact that his cattle had the same phenotype? Maybe if these guys on Sitkinak became co-operators they could "harvest" the open females too and sell them at inflated prices like the Pharo cull cows Idea
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:44 am

Quote :
What I would like is the opinion's from this forum if we start with 300 females from linebed parentage and 16 bulls of the same parentage. Use a calving minimum of 14 months, no less than 20% of medium for weight at weaning. Sell all open females and any bulls that are deemed unfit to breed. Use the average of their enviroment as the means for the input with supplementation if if the mean fall's 25%. Use this project for 20 years where do you folks think that this would end up with this criteria placed with natural selection.

Bob, I'll take a guess. I'd guess that you herd at the end of 20 years will be based on 30 of the original cows and 2 or 3 of the bulls. The herd would look about like the original cows if the environment is the same. If you let the -20% of medium hold for the period there would be the same mature weights, unless regression was an big issue, and allowing the below average WW to be included you would have avoided just selecting for extra fat calves at weaning age so that condition scores would be like the foundation animals.
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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:24 am

Bob H wrote:
What I would like is the opinion's from this forum if we start with 300 females from linebed parentage and 16 bulls of the same parentage. Use a calving minimum of 14 months, no less than 20% of medium for weight at weaning. Sell all open females and any bulls that are deemed unfit to breed. Use the average of their enviroment as the means for the input with supplementation if if the mean fall's 25%. Use this project for 20 years where do you folks think that this would end up with this criteria placed with natural selection.

Bob, have you ever talked to Dale Lasater? The Beefmaster Foundation herd has been run similar to what you are talking about for over 70 years.
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Bob H



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:15 pm

I have not talked to Dale Lasater but understand that they never began with linebred cattle.
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Dylan Biggs



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:28 am

RobertMac wrote:
Jack, you are in dangerous territory using me as a reference!

I believe regression is not a factor in nature. The only game in nature is survival to propagate to survive and propagate. The alternative is extinction. The Aleutian Island cattle have been through the cycle for over 100 years with no new genetics for heterozygosis. Wouldn't it be logical that they have 'used up' all their "regression" and they are what they are? And what did they regress from and does that matter to nature?

Over the years I believe there has been Hereford, Red Angus, Charolais, Simmental. The cattle I saw were in the videos and the photos were a lot of white cattle, and red cattle. Seemed color wise like a very heterozygous herd.

For sure the only game is suvival, the cattle looked in good condition.
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:04 pm

Dylan Biggs wrote:
RobertMac wrote:
Jack, you are in dangerous territory using me as a reference!

I believe regression is not a factor in nature. The only game in nature is survival to propagate to survive and propagate. The alternative is extinction. The Aleutian Island cattle have been through the cycle for over 100 years with no new genetics for heterozygosis. Wouldn't it be logical that they have 'used up' all their "regression" and they are what they are? And what did they regress from and does that matter to nature?

Over the years I believe there has been Hereford, Red Angus, Charolais, Simmental. The cattle I saw were in the videos and the photos were a lot of white cattle, and red cattle. Seemed color wise like a very heterozygous herd.

For sure the only game is suvival, the cattle looked in good condition.

That must be the foundation herd of the Red Angus breed then?? Laughing Laughing
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Dylan Biggs



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:18 pm

GF, I am going out on a limb here but if the gal that showed me the photos was correct and if my memory serves me correctly the last intro of genetics was the Charolais in the mid 80's. The first I believe were the Herefords.

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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:52 pm

Dylan Biggs wrote:
GF, I am going out on a limb here but if the gal that showed me the photos was correct and if my memory serves me correctly the last intro of genetics was the Charolais in the mid 80's. The first I believe were the Herefords.


Ah, so they've been there for over 100 years but it's by no means a closed population. I thought you meant there had been no new genetics introduced in 100 years.
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Dylan Biggs



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:37 pm

Thats what I meant, thanks for getting me to clarify.

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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:50 pm

That piece of information rather negates most of the discussion regarding these cattle. A "natural" selection process can't really demonstrate the effects of inbreeding or regression if you keep adding new different bloodlines to it.
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Dylan Biggs



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:36 pm

GF, understood, the context of the Aluetian cattle was with regards to defining "natural selection" and the Aluetian cattle as potentially as close as possible to an example of selection under natural circumstances as there may be.

Regardless of inbred status a discussion of natural selection needs a definition to work with.

By virtue of the fact that cattle are domesticated it may be impossible to divorce human influence.

If one is going to settle for a definition that accepts management (human influence) in it's many forms, either passive, intentional deprivation, benign neglect, or some form of intervention that is fine, but regardless a definition would be helpful.

JMO

Smile
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Mean Spirit



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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:57 pm

Didn't I read somewhere that they started as Ayrshires back in Russian times?
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PostSubject: Re: Natural selection   Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:05 pm

Sounds like every every true performance herd to me, sort of, the old let the females sort themselves, bring in a new bull, stir-repeat-rinse.
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