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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Mon May 16, 2011 9:09 pm

RobertMac wrote:
outsidethebox wrote:
To my knowledge, the seven generations of females, behind this calf that I have known in my lifetime, have always calved at the beginning of the crop, have always weaned near the top of the crop and have never lost a calf or come up open. Do I keep drawing from this well and only use bulls from this line back onto the herd? What defines "progress" here?
When is 'good' good enough?
The only way I see to make "progress" on that line of cows, is to make more of them!

Is a bull that gains 6 lbs/day "superior" or a mutation?

Do we need to make 'good' better?
Or do we need to make 'good' repeatable?


Robert,
For me , this is root question that must be answered before you attempt to breed cattle...and I would add...must good be all encompassing, or complimentary to a superior whole?
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Tue May 17, 2011 6:27 am

quote from Gavin's newsletter

During the period of the Elite herd we made a great deal of progress and also identified an outliner bull, Waigroup 1/80, being totally Pinebank bred. This bull proved to be outstanding internationally.

We still have some semen which we keep, and use occasionally to check the progress of the programme. This bull, I think was never beaten internationally ( America refuse to make the data available to me) but he did come out in the top 2% for carcase analysis' in America.



My question is if Waigroup 1/80 is an elite bull why not breed him to some of the current top cows and use his sons to further the program. Does the bull pass on these good traits onto his sons and daughters or is he a non repeatable outlier? Can the goodness of this bull be kept in the herd while eliminating the undesired thru controlled linebreeding?
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Tue May 17, 2011 8:20 am

I had some free time so I am asking/commenting to show my ignorance and to get some discussions and answers. I'm assuming that the Pinebank cattle are a "do-all" concept rather than a pure maternal selection. How would these genetics fit into a US herd: cow makers or performace? No slant or negativity meant or implied even though this is the site of Mean People.

Quote :
the first decade using 2 year bulls selecting for growth . …I had a lot of trouble with calving problems

Same learning curve as most folks looking for cattle profits.

Quote :
change to dam traits, as the most expensive part of the beef production cycle ( grass to cow to milk to calf).

This got confusing as I read on down the article because the performance of the calves and bulls were markers of progress. What are "dam traits" other than the same old performance measures?

Quote :
The Elite herd consisted of the top 10% of cows from each herd for weaning weight. Cows had to have calved from 2 year olds and calved every year and had a minimum of 3 calves.

Same as AAA pathfinders?

Quote :
Every herd is different and recording schemes are of necessity.


Environmental?

Quote :
of errors creeping in. You struggle to correct them mostly without success.


If home records are erred, what good will the data do. Put it in a national data base where everybody has their own errors and I assume you increase the errors. So, what does it tell the guy back home standing in the pasture?

Quote :
The job of the Elite herd was to produce the sires for the 4 base group cows .
The resulting bulls would be progeny tested and the winning bulls then returned to sire the next generation of Elite bulls. A very sophisticated breeding programme.

Performance testing bulls for "dam traits"?

Quote :
Again I was responsible for allocating the top Elite bulls that were allocated to each property. These had nothing to do with farms of origin but were balanced on performance. This was done to make progeny tests as accurate as possible


All from one source, so I understand the level playing field and accuracy. How do you know that the use of them in other environments will then be assured success?

Quote :
During the period of the Elite herd we made a great deal of progress and also identified an outliner bull, Waigroup 1/80, being totally Pinebank bred. This bull proved to be outstanding internationally.
We still have some semen which we keep, and use occasionally to check the progress of the programme. This bull, I think was never beaten internationally ( America refuse to make the data available to me) but he did come out in the top 2% for carcase analysis' in America.


Again, a searching for "dam traits" and a superior outlier for carcass?

Quote :
The Elite herd continued for some 10 years during which time we greatly improved weaning weights.

Performance again.

Quote :
the Elite was very expensive to run we had to abandon it and so all the cows were returned to their owners.


Like the widespread university bull test stations of yesteryear?

Quote :
We returned to each herd selecting its best yearling bulls and using them for one year and then selling them but keeping the best on progeny test and rerunning them if really good, using once more and then keeping them for semen collection.

This would only be possible (I'm asking) because of a closed herd yet they were combining 4 herds. Can any one son, based on individual performance, be a sure bet to surpass the sire?

Quote :
I decided to put no conformational restrictions on the type of animal we were breeding, but would use the best, as long as they were structurally and temperamentally sound.

What is "conformation" if you have already selected for performance, structure and temperment?

Quote :
We also put fertility demands on the cows in that every cow must calve as a two year old and subsequently each year. Research has shown that the only satisfactory way to improve fertility is to cull any cow that does not get in calf no matter what age. This quickly develops a cow that can handle the environment and demands of the particular farmer.

Does culling alone "quickly" fix the problem? And we are bouncing back to fertility while selecting for performance.

Quote :
Fertility is the most important character in any breeding programme.


Yet they selected the cows of the elite herd and all the bulls based on performance?

Quote :
This speeded up the 'generation interval' by one year thus speeding up the programme but realising that selecting for dam traits was much slower because it was multifactor selection.


So, did it work to speed the interval?

Quote :
For every year that you use the same bull you remain on square one, you are not going anywhere.

Does proof not matter? Or does the removal of recessive problems early on give you a "full speed ahead". Why keep the semen back up several quotes prior on 2 YO bulls? Insurance? Reuse? Sale?

Quote :
So when you begin you are using the best bulls of each year. The next year you are using the best bull, who was by the best bull so you are beginning to collect the superior genes in your population and feed it back into your herd. This has been going on since the mid 1970's.

Isn't this the hope of every breeding program to "corral" the genes? Can we really do that as a sure bet or is it more of a random chance to get what gets combined in the unseen? Especially if "dam traits" are the goal and performance is the yardstick.

Quote :
Although this is a short time in breeding terms we are just beginning to get 'down the road' and things are beginning to happen in the herd. As concentration of superior genes comes together, the impact of these bulls when used outside our herd becomes more dramatic.

Do the cows not get any credit? What are "things" and "impact"? How are they measured?

Quote :
Some of the other group members have used outside bulls occasionally and this has made them fall further behind the Pinebank herd .
when a registered herd was having a dispersal sale, one of the group members would go a month ahead to pick out the very best performing cows in the herd.

What traits were measured to determine the "fall behind"? Males or females?

Quote :
Canadian Enterprise Pinebank has now a branch of the herd in Canada.
The herd has now been operating for 7 years and much to our surprise the Pinebank cattle have had no trouble adjusting to the Canadian climate.
Together we face the future with complete confidence as we set out to breed a branch of Angus that is ideally suited to Canadian demands. It will be interesting to see whether the Canadian environment changes the phenotype of the Pinebank angus cattle.

Can Canadian cattle come directly to other than the NW or the northern US and work? Does this indicate that these NZ cattle can or cannot work as a pure strain in the SE or the southern US?
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Tue May 17, 2011 10:14 am

Has any of the pinebank/waigroup cattle offspring in the US/Canada been profiled by igenity or Phizer test? The EPD's on the 3 waigroup bulls available reflect very little data has been turned in on their offspring in the AAA.
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Tue May 17, 2011 5:46 pm

I know more already about them than the current dna tests provide....why bother?
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: from LL   Sat May 21, 2011 7:40 am






Gavin wrote:

Larry If you could just scan the best of those photos from LeRoy that would be great and you can show the rest of the photos to whoever you wish
I am posting a dozen photos Leroy sent me from his trip to NZ in February, 2011....they are a cross section of about 70+ natural photos taken of the Waigroup cattle in the Glanworth herd. I hope they fairly represent the type of cattle that have evolved as the survivors of Waigroup's steadfast and comprehensive selection criteria as is explained in Gavin's Pinebank monthly newsletters.

I selected the first picture to illustrate the foot structure as well as the NZ type of terrain in the background. I thought the second picture of the young cow very much resembled a typical Scotch "Wye Angus" female that I first became endeared with during the 1970's, especially expressed in her head....whether born in NZ, USA or Scotland in any span of time.

Leroy also sent me several pictures of young bulls and I thought the last picture of the bull typified the general type......thank you Leroy for sharing your trip with all of us, and thank you Gavin for your honest and dedicated approach to sustainable breed improvement. One of your most admiring statements to me was when you told me "It has cost you alot in all ways, but that you would do it all over again".
Larry
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PostSubject: june 2011 from Pinebank   Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:25 am

June 2011

Winter has "officially" arrived but we are having the best Autumn growth we have had for years . However due to the previous droughts we are well down on our yearly amount of dry matter that the farm can produce.

Still it is a big help and better than we have faced the Winter with for some years and will allow the cows to lay down some fat before the coming calving.

The cows came out of the Summer in light condition but still conceived at the usual conception rate. This is due to our constant pressure on fertilit.y

The saying for this month is 'Every animal is genetically coded to reach a given weight at a given age and that weight can be achieved at any time'

This saying is particular relevant to the bulls, as you are aiming for the maximum weight at sale time. Every animal is unique and so grows at a different time according to its genetic code. Once it has its code at the moment of conception there is nothing that you can do about it. While it is growing it is putting down muscle and bone. If you push it past its code it will begin to lay down fat. As it takes four times the amount of feed to lay on one lb of fat as it does one lb of growth this can be expensive, Unfortunately buyers, through ignorance, prefer that their bulls are fat fat .. Fat can conceal conformational faults so a fat animal's true conformation is more difficult to judge. This is of course why breeders fatten their bulls up to their maximum for
the show ring.

Fat used in its correct place has advantages because it is a source of reserve energy. And it is important that cows get the opportunity to lay down fat every year if possible before calving, as a reserve of nutriments that they can use after calving. Lactation demands much more from an animal than gestation. If you observe animals after birth you will find that they spend their whole time either eating or sleeping. This is natures way of keeping up with nutritional requirements during this critical time.

Breeders who are involved in breeding dam trait bulls aim to have their maximum growth period ,if they can, before sale. This demonstrates the bulls ability to grow during this period, which is important as not only does it demonstrate the early fattening potential of the drylot steer but also it can be a factor in early maturity of its female progeny allowing it to conceive as a yearling if the rancher requires. This makes for more efficient beef production.

As I have explained a bull's growth is controlled by its genetic code and once set it can not be altered. The skill is, how do you breed bulls that grow at the best time to suit your grassland production cycle?

If in the past you have been graining your cattle then there is no problem as you can keep piling on the fat. The problem then remains as to where the animals put the fat on as it is also controlled by its genes.
Show animals are especially selected and bred for their ability to put on fat smoothly. Most show animals have little to add to productive beef production. The champion Angus bull in England in 1956 when I was there, I was told was infertile yet he went on to win many championships.

How do you change growth patterns.? There are four ways, and each way depends on whether you sell your bulls as yearlings or two year olds.

1) If you have a closed herd and are selecting your best bulls as sires then they will fit the growth pattern because they have grown faster than the other bulls during the critical period

2) If you are using purchased sires then you must enquire from your breeder which of his bulls was the top weight at yearling. And if he cannot tell you, go to some breeder who can!

3) The third way is to find progeny tested old sires whose yearling weight show superiority

4) The longest but the most sure way to change all your bulls genetic code is to select for it. You must be
careful to retain variation because if global warming or some other phenomena causes changes in climate, then it may be necessary to changeyour bulls growth period
.

I got a kick out of Gavin`s number 4...do we have to worry about variation, or will nature provide variation for us?
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:22 pm

Starting to feel like global warming here today and is supposed to go to 100 next week. Can't stand any wooly buger bulls or Englishmen in this inferno. Neutral
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Double B

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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:02 am

EddieM wrote:
Starting to feel like global warming here today and is supposed to go to 100 next week. Can't stand any wooly buger bulls or Englishmen in this inferno. Neutral

It was 108 today and it's been awhile since the high was under 100,but they say it's a dry heat.
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:29 am

I must admit I'm still perplexed by the Pinebank program and the apparent selection importance given to rate of gain which seems to contradict the theories of many posters here who identify a slower growing, later maturing bull as being more likely to breed predictable, acceptable replacement females.

Not much global warming here, perhaps some climate change going on though? Another desperately cold, late spring on the prairies. I think we have made it to 70f twice thus far this year and soon the "nights will be drawing in" as we say in Scotland. Several days of low 50s recently and now a good soaking of cold, wet rain. Convincing me more than ever that I live in an area suited to growing grass not grain and that my wooly mamoths are well adapted to the conditions.
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:33 am

I also wonder about the selection process, none the less, I believe I could live with most of the cows pictured, not that pictures mean too much to me, I just like them. At least they have a program, and they are not just using the bull of the month. I may not be like most here, my personal taste is grow quick, mature early, than stop growing.

Only been a few 70's here, been raining calling for more. At what point do you say enough to rain.


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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:38 am

Grassfarmer wrote:
I must admit I'm still perplexed by the Pinebank program and the apparent selection importance given to rate of gain which seems to contradict the theories of many posters here who identify a slower growing, later maturing bull as being more likely to breed predictable, acceptable replacement females.

Not much global warming here, perhaps some climate change going on though? Another desperately cold, late spring on the prairies. I think we have made it to 70f twice thus far this year and soon the "nights will be drawing in" as we say in Scotland. Several days of low 50s recently and now a good soaking of cold, wet rain. Convincing me more than ever that I live in an area suited to growing grass not grain and that my wooly mamoths are well adapted to the conditions.
grassy, seems that each type has pluses and minuses...the important thing is to idenify a type or types you want, breed it til it breeds true...I`m sure glad the Pinebank cattle are out there, for when I want the attributes the cattle possess, I know where to go get them...
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:06 pm

Gus wrote:
I also wonder about the selection process, none the less, I believe I could live with most of the cows pictured, not that pictures mean too much to me, I just like them. At least they have a program, and they are not just using the bull of the month. I may not be like most here, my personal taste is grow quick, mature early, than stop growing.

Only been a few 70's here, been raining calling for more. At what point do you say enough to rain.




I used to say enough is enough before I moved to Oklahoma, but I don't think I will ever bitch about to much rain again. I'm going to have to start selling cows in a week or two or move them back to Ohio or I might do a little of each.
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PostSubject: reply from Gavin   Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:55 pm

MKeeney wrote:
June 2011

Winter has "officially" arrived but we are having the best Autumn growth we have had for years . However due to the previous droughts we are well down on our yearly amount of dry matter that the farm can produce.

Still it is a big help and better than we have faced the Winter with for some years and will allow the cows to lay down some fat before the coming calving.

The cows came out of the Summer in light condition but still conceived at the usual conception rate. This is due to our constant pressure on fertilit.y

The saying for this month is 'Every animal is genetically coded to reach a given weight at a given age and that weight can be achieved at any time'

This saying is particular relevant to the bulls, as you are aiming for the maximum weight at sale time. Every animal is unique and so grows at a different time according to its genetic code. Once it has its code at the moment of conception there is nothing that you can do about it. While it is growing it is putting down muscle and bone. If you push it past its code it will begin to lay down fat. As it takes four times the amount of feed to lay on one lb of fat as it does one lb of growth this can be expensive, Unfortunately buyers, through ignorance, prefer that their bulls are fat fat .. Fat can conceal conformational faults so a fat animal's true conformation is more difficult to judge. This is of course why breeders fatten their bulls up to their maximum for
the show ring.

Fat used in its correct place has advantages because it is a source of reserve energy. And it is important that cows get the opportunity to lay down fat every year if possible before calving, as a reserve of nutriments that they can use after calving. Lactation demands much more from an animal than gestation. If you observe animals after birth you will find that they spend their whole time either eating or sleeping. This is natures way of keeping up with nutritional requirements during this critical time.

Breeders who are involved in breeding dam trait bulls aim to have their maximum growth period ,if they can, before sale. This demonstrates the bulls ability to grow during this period, which is important as not only does it demonstrate the early fattening potential of the drylot steer but also it can be a factor in early maturity of its female progeny allowing it to conceive as a yearling if the rancher requires. This makes for more efficient beef production.

As I have explained a bull's growth is controlled by its genetic code and once set it can not be altered. The skill is, how do you breed bulls that grow at the best time to suit your grassland production cycle?

If in the past you have been graining your cattle then there is no problem as you can keep piling on the fat. The problem then remains as to where the animals put the fat on as it is also controlled by its genes.
Show animals are especially selected and bred for their ability to put on fat smoothly. Most show animals have little to add to productive beef production. The champion Angus bull in England in 1956 when I was there, I was told was infertile yet he went on to win many championships.

How do you change growth patterns.? There are four ways, and each way depends on whether you sell your bulls as yearlings or two year olds.

1) If you have a closed herd and are selecting your best bulls as sires then they will fit the growth pattern because they have grown faster than the other bulls during the critical period

2) If you are using purchased sires then you must enquire from your breeder which of his bulls was the top weight at yearling. And if he cannot tell you, go to some breeder who can!

3) The third way is to find progeny tested old sires whose yearling weight show superiority

4) The longest but the most sure way to change all your bulls genetic code is to select for it. You must be
careful to retain variation because if global warming or some other phenomena causes changes in climate, then it may be necessary to changeyour bulls growth period
.

I got a kick out of Gavin`s number 4...do we have to worry about variation, or will nature provide variation for us?

Mike,
my latest computer upgrade they have stuffed up my mails and have only just come across your mail sent on the 18th. So here is the reply. ‘If’ you are Linebreeding or inbreeding you automatically lose variation, the closer you breed the more variation that you loose. That comes with depression. After a number of generations you can lock yourself into an environment or type of animal. If you are breeding for the long term in order to retain progress you must retain variation. Hope that this covers your question.

Nature retains maximum variation as a way to cope with the necessity of evolution. The constantly changing species

Regards

Gavin

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df



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:16 am

Is that maximum genetic variation, as opposed to phenotypic, and is that within the limits of the fitness of that animal within that environment? If so, man is able to create more variation than nature. Would you agree?
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CW



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:35 pm

Would that genetic variation still be confined to certain parameters within herd, otherwise changing the type? Is there multiple types within this closed herd that are being" maintained" so to speak, to allow a faster rate of change if the "enviroment" required it? Is this variation to prevent the need of outside genes if change was required in the future?
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:16 pm

Quote :
Would that genetic variation still be confined to certain parameters within herd, otherwise changing the type? Is there multiple types within this closed herd that are being" maintained" so to speak, to allow a faster rate of change if the "enviroment" required it?

I'm sure there must be multiple "somethings" but it is probably cow familes, paternal lines or some other measure of variation. The biggest part of this continued variation would be the size of the population and the number of breeding males in the population.

Quote :
Is this variation to prevent the need of outside genes if change was required in the future?

Change or recovery? Surely the type and environment are pretty well known after several decades.

Just building a mental picture: Are we talking about selection of Pinebank cows about the same ways to measure and retain as Pathfinders?
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:14 pm

df wrote:
Is that maximum genetic variation, as opposed to phenotypic, and is that within the limits of the fitness of that animal within that environment? If so, man is able to create more variation than nature. Would you agree?

YES,but which are "improved"????


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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:42 pm

EddieM wrote:
Quote :
Would that genetic variation still be confined to certain parameters within herd, otherwise changing the type? Is there multiple types within this closed herd that are being" maintained" so to speak, to allow a faster rate of change if the "enviroment" required it?

I'm sure there must be multiple "somethings" but it is probably cow familes, paternal lines or some other measure of variation. The biggest part of this continued variation would be the size of the population and the number of breeding males in the population.

Quote :
Is this variation to prevent the need of outside genes if change was required in the future?

Change or recovery? Surely the type and environment are pretty well known after several decades.

Just building a mental picture: Are we talking about selection of Pinebank cows about the same ways to measure and retain as Pathfinders?

wow...good stuff today...I will forward these questions to Gavin...
Eddie, I tend to think you are correct...
yelp, looks like man makes much more variation for his multiple NEEDS/WANTS than nature... nature only needs/wants survival..
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CW



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Thu Jun 23, 2011 7:55 pm

I agree with Eddie that the size of the population is the important factor for degree of variation. When I was thinking change, I was not thinking so much as to the environment as to the market. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if they don't sell bred females then feeders or fats must be their produce(besides the bull market). I know they have won some carcass competitions, so is this a direction of the variation to meet changing standards? I'm sure their program has muliple considerations and hope Mr. Falloon can expand on this. I need to learn to type so I can remember what I was trying to say scratch
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:48 am

craig wrote:
Would that genetic variation still be confined to certain parameters within herd, otherwise changing the type? Is there multiple types within this closed herd that are being" maintained" so to speak, to allow a faster rate of change if the "enviroment" required it? Is this variation to prevent the need of outside genes if change was required in the future?

from all the pictures I see, I do not believe multiple types are being maintained, other than the assortment nature gives ...in fact, I would believe that the selection objective is creating a more consistent type{conformation}, while attempting to get higher weaning/yearling weight from that type...
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:24 am

MKeeney wrote:
wow...good stuff today...I will forward these questions to Gavin...
Eddie, I tend to think you are correct...
yelp, looks like man makes much more variation for his multiple NEEDS/WANTS than nature... nature only needs/wants survival..
...AND propagation...without it, there is no survival.
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:29 am

craig wrote:
I agree with Eddie that the size of the population is the important factor for degree of variation. When I was thinking change, I was not thinking so much as to the environment as to the market. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if they don't sell bred females then feeders or fats must be their produce(besides the bull market). I know they have won some carcass competitions, so is this a direction of the variation to meet changing standards? I'm sure their program has muliple considerations and hope Mr. Falloon can expand on this. I need to learn to type so I can remember what I was trying to say scratch
I find the carcass argument interesting. Increasing marbling is considered "improvement", but is it to customers that want LEAN beef? Remember, our check-off dollars are promoting lean beef.
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PostSubject: from Gavin   Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:51 pm

4) The longest but the most sure way to change all your bulls genetic code is to select for it. You must be
careful to retain variation because if global warming or some other phenomena causes changes in climate, then it may be necessary to changeyour bulls growth period.

I got a kick out of Gavin`s number 4...do we have to worry about variation, or will nature provide variation for us? mk





Mike

If you leave nature alone then she retains a high degree of variation . The old sire is replaced by a younger fitter sire. This happens half way through the season as the old sire tires anyway. But remember that nature demands that the sire fight for the right for the females so only the best get there. It is the strongest, fittest, healthiest, best suited to handle and cope with the environment in which they all live. Nature the master breeder of all time. All biological species are constantly changing and improving to make better use of there environment. It is only humans that make decisions and stuff the whole up.

Gavin

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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter   Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:52 am

July 2011

Winter is upon us but the season is much warmer than usual. Grass growth is slowing as the days grow shorter and colder. Grass produced at this time of the year does not deteriorate until Spring and although it may not have the minerals and proteins in it, it is still a great standbye for the Winter. Additives can always be fed in the form of hay. Although I have not been down to the farm for some time, I imagine it is the best that it has been for many years, going into the depths of Winter.

We have a saying in New Zealand, 'that as the days lengthen the cold strengthens'.

The saying for this month is :
‘Any animal showing superiority for any characteristic, carries with it its heritability for that trait (as estimated) regardless of the performance of its parents.

The reason for this is that in receiving its genetic code at the moment of conception it happened to pick up those genes that gave it superiority for the given characteristic. It can and does happen that even the worst cow in the herd can produce an outstanding calf. This of course is the chance part of the sampling of the parent’s genes. This bull will produce as good a calf as a bull produced from parents with a background of high performance characters. The saying above also cuts across the present Beefplan breeding programme with its historic data.

It is my contention that there is no place for historical data in highly heritable traits, which we are dealing with here. It only creates distortions. The ideal would be that each herd would have its own programme adjusted to its requirements and to its environment.

For instance I believe that true records can only be obtained by weighing at birth. Estimated weights are, the beginning of errors and can and do throw out progeny tests.

Unfortunately some cows should not be approached at calving and it is clear that many herds are in this position. I do not believe that all herds can be safely weighed at birth as it is far too dangerous.

I have mention before that we produced a calf one year that was 100 kilos ahead of any other calf at 200 days. The calf was out of one of the lower performing cows by an average bull. Because of his historical data, breedplan wrote him out the backdoor! We disregarded the figures and used the bull with great success. He was so successful that we tried to recover him but he had died in an accident. A big loss.

The saying also demonstrates the value of variation and the fact that genes are picked up purely at random, meaning that top animals can come from anywhere. Obviously the more high performing genes you build into your population, your average rises and the more chance you have of high performing animals appearing.

It is our holistic approach of selecting for all the important economic genes that is important. It is little use producing an outstanding animal for growth if its females have little fertility. So on we go very slowly making progress.

Back to weaning weight, the most expensive part of the beef production cycle is ‘grass to cow to milk to calf.' This was considered in the beginning of my cattle breeding to be a ‘dam trait’ and a big part of it was milk production. At the beginning to avoid the disaster of purchased bulls I began using AI bulls. After weaning I would carefully analysis the data. One of my AI bulls came out 3 kilos on average ahead of any other bull that season in weaning weight. How can that be I thought to myself, if it is a dam trait? Does the bull dominate the genetic input for weaning? Upon thinking about it I realised that the ability of a calf to grow during this first 200 days was the important feature. It would be 15 to 20 years before Trangie came out with, 80% of weaning weight is the ability of a calf to grow during this period and only 20% was milk. It is a very poor cow that cannot produce enough milk to rear a calf.

There are a number of them around. Regrettably.



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