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 pinebank newsletter feb 2013

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PatB



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Age : 53
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PostSubject: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:48 am



We are experiencing the hottest driest Summer for some time. The drought has returned and water is becoming short. NZ usually has plenty of water because we have large rivers running from the mountains to the sea.
We may be running out of water but our dollar defies gravity and keeps on rising pushing our exports lower and lower. Our politicians seem to think this is good as all our imports are cheaper but they do not appear to have realised that their tax will be much lower this year.

All improvement comes from the bull. The number of cows the bull covers, will control the value that he has in that herd. If you have a small herd and only one bull then that one bull controls whether the herd makes any progress or goes backward. He is responsible for a total generation. With all bulls it is important you know as much about them as possible. Your future and your herd’s future depends on it. For every year you use the same bull you remain on square one. You are contributing the same genes into your herd each year so you are making no progress, good or bad.

All herd efficiency comes from the cow. She is responsible for conceiving every year and rearing a good calf.
To my mind it was when I began tagging and weighing at birth that I really began to get a grip on raising the efficiency of the cows.

Our cows are very quiet and we select to keep them that way. I began identifying at birth because the American scientists told me that what I was doing would lead straight to calving problems. They thought I was selecting only for growth. They also told me I would not be able to tag and weigh during calving. I began tagging and weighing at birth to see if our birth weights were rising. Now it has become an important part of the breeding programme. Important but too dangerous to try if your cows are likely to attack you. You are too vulnerable while you are dealing to the calf and can get seriously injured. I do not recommend it.

There are a number of advantages in tagging at birth. The first being the positive identification of calf to cow, you see it born. You wait until the cow and calf have bonded which it takes about five minutes while she licks and nuzzles the new born calf. then go in and tag and weigh the calf. I consider that I had about 10 minutes in which time I appeared to be safe.

An interesting side bit to this was that New Zealand became involved in dealing with a recessive gene many years ago and one of our scientists developed a test to identify the carriers of this recessive. When scientists came to DNA test the herds for carriers they found that the only herd whose pedigrees were accurate were Pinebank because of the tagging at birth. This is many years ago. So they asked me if I would run a research mob of identified carriers of the recessive This I did and the scientists collected a mob of cows known to be carrying the recessive Every calf born in the research herd was bled at birth and any calf that was born dead was rushed through to the Veterinarian University for Post Mortem. It worked out a perfect mathematical model. 25% were clinical so carried two copies of the gene 25% skipped the gene so were clear and 50% remained carriers of the gene with a single copy of the gene I cannot remember how big the research herd was it is so long ago.

I found other advantages that came from the tagging and weighing at birth. I had the biggest cow culling that the herd had ever had after that first year was complete.
Because being around the calving herd all the time and watching most of the cows calve I learnt a lot. Very rarely cows will attack their calves just after they are on the ground. My impulse was to rush in to prevent what appeared to be damage to the calf, but in letting a cow complete its roaring and rolling the calf around I discovered that it was the cows method of stimulating the calf to begin its breathing.

Next I found calves lying in the rushes that appeared to have had little or no milk. I took the calf, found the mother took her down to the yards and found that the cow had mammitious or bad milk,another reason for culling. Then I found that cows that had been recorded as having calved, appeared at mating to have a bag and was being suckled, was remated but turned out not to have a calf at foot. Upon checking back on the records, she had been doing this for some years, so she was in the next lot for culling. The last lot to go were those that failed to mother satisfactorily, the calf was doing badly because the mother had little milk or was reluctant to let the calf feed.

Our herd is derived from the old Scottish angus. Many of those herds were very small herds living inside all winter and were constantly in close contact with humans I imagine ,that temperamental cattle were not tolerated. I culled any cow that showed any signs of attack right from the beginning and we still do.

The other method I used in my day was that all calves were taught to tie up . Mobs of cows and calves were bought in three days in a row. Calves drafted off, caught and tided up with a leather halter. The staff and I would handle them until they stopped pulling back. After they had stopped pulling then we would let them go and return them too their mothers. We did this three days in a row if possible and notes would be taken on their behaviour. This had a number of advantages. You could catch a calf in the paddock and deal to it if it was injured, also the cows or the bulls never forgot and could be tied up if it became necessary.
The cattle are not now taught to tie up economics, labour, and time are the reason.

Today any or all animals can be DNA tested to positively identify parentage and all semen collected must be DNA tested.

All these things can be done without tagging at birth of course, but I have just mentioned them to show what I learnt when I became closely involved with the calving cows. A dramatic improvement in efficiency occurred. Calving is the most vital time of the year and the whole season must be aimed at it.



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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:54 pm

Quote :
All improvement comes from the bull.

All herd efficiency comes from the cow.

It is amazing that the sperm and unfertilized egg know to do it this way.
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jhudson



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PostSubject: Pinebank   Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:32 pm

What constitutes "improvement" and how is "herd efficiency" determined? Jim
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:25 pm

jhudson wrote:
What constitutes "improvement" and how is "herd efficiency" determined? Jim

Jim, "improvement" in bulls is often an unreachable goal and makes new paragraphs in each year's sale catalog. "Herd efficiency" in a cow herd is generally an attempt to change the average size of the cows in the herd or the average milking level of the cow. I appreciate what has been written on this site about stablizing what the current cattle can do and being satisified to tell folks that they are cattle that fit where they are found.
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:32 am

The Pinebank herd is one of my "proofs" that a closed herd reaches a point where it must use the outlier just to maintain the "average" performance...
what is "cowherd performance"? After you have consumed all the feed {grass/hay} you grew on a given alotment, isn`t it the pounds of calf you produced from that grass, not how many lbs you produced per cow?
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:30 pm

april 2013 newsletter

Drizzling gentle spasmodic rain is trying unsuccessfully to break the drought. New Zealand dollar keeps rising. Sheep and beef farmers income keeps dropping. Dairy prices keep on rising which Government takes as meaning that farmers are having no problems. Once the Minister of agriculture was either Prime Minister or Second Minister, but now he is either on the backbenches or just above them. Once New Zealand’s income was derived by the production of high class food and we had the second highest standard of living in the world, now we are nuch lower largely through poor decisions and poor Government management.

This month I am going to talk about Phenotype verses Genotype. One is of no importance the other of vital importance

Phenotype.

This is what an animal looks like. There is no way this will tell you how an animal will perform Yet it is the most popular method of selecting sires for your herd.
Phenotype is largely produced by feeding and its main criteria is the ability of the animal to lay down fat evenly. Neither of these characteristics have anything to do with the ability of the bull to pass on economic characters to its offspring.
The main reason for the purchasing of the bull working on this principle is that ‘like tends to produce like’ .
It is important in any designed breeding program that the cattle herd is recorded, as it is just as easy to go downhill as it is to make progress. So constant checks must be kept to make sure that you are going in the right direction. I suspect that there has been very little improvement in the national herd in the last 40 years.
The only true way to find out, would be to bring back a number of very old bulls and float them through the existing herds to see how they compared today.
Probably little would be gained by such an experiment except to illustrate whether the present system of breeding was making progress. I suspect not!

Genotype

It is the code that we all get at the moment of conception. This is the genetic structure of the animal and this can be most easily seen by looking at his pedigree.
Gathering the high performance genes in your herd is the objective of any breeding program, and how successful you are can be seen in the pedigree.
Generation interval will quickly show whether progress is being made. I have explained how every animal has many high performing genes for every important economic characteristic in the many millions of genes in his genetic code.
The secret is to design a program to get at those high performing genes and build them into your herd.

It is interesting to note that after approx 50 years of selecting these genes all the many outstanding bulls that we have bred are beginning more and more to look like the bulls shown in the very old photos.
This indicates to me that in the beginning the selection of the early animals and the intense inbreeding while they establish colour and type was breeding a high performing animal it was only subsequently that we let that type, which I suggest was ideal for that environment, slip away.

In the modern rush for single trait selection we have distorted the animal.
The desire for greater growth changed the type from thickset to large framed narrow cattle with little muscle and fertility dropped right away. ‘Giving credit to the saying if you move an animal outside its environmental shape the first thing that happens is loss of fertility.’

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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:46 am

I sure don`t find much common ground or common sense in this particular newsletter...maybe Gavin wrote like I often read...just a skimming and just barely scratching the surface...
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:39 pm

PatB wrote:
april 2013 newsletter

Drizzling gentle spasmodic rain is trying unsuccessfully to break the drought. New Zealand dollar keeps rising. Sheep and beef farmers income keeps dropping. Dairy prices keep on rising which Government takes as meaning that farmers are having no problems. Once the Minister of agriculture was either Prime Minister or Second Minister, but now he is either on the backbenches or just above them. Once New Zealand’s income was derived by the production of high class food and we had the second highest standard of living in the world, now we are nuch lower largely through poor decisions and poor Government management.

This month I am going to talk about Phenotype verses Genotype. One is of no importance the other of vital importance

Phenotype.

This is what an animal looks like. There is no way this will tell you how an animal will perform Yet it is the most popular method of selecting sires for your herd.

doesn't Gavin make first selections on phenotype as well?

Phenotype is largely produced by feeding and its main criteria is the ability of the animal to lay down fat evenly. Neither of these characteristics have anything to do with the ability of the bull to pass on economic characters to its offspring.
The main reason for the purchasing of the bull working on this principle is that ‘like tends to produce like’ .
It is important in any designed breeding program that the cattle herd is recorded,

data I assumed rather than pedigree?

as it is just as easy to go downhill as it is to make progress. So constant checks must be kept to make sure that you are going in the right direction. I suspect that there has been very little improvement in the national herd in the last 40 years.

well, we have been recording more data in the last 40 years than ever before, so what`s the problem?

The only true way to find out, would be to bring back a number of very old bulls and float them through the existing herds to see how they compared today.

what`s the selection criteria for improvement/ progress? growth?

Probably little would be gained by such an experiment except to illustrate whether the present system of breeding was making progress. I suspect not!

Genotype

It is the code that we all get at the moment of conception. This is the genetic structure of the animal and this can be most easily seen by looking at his pedigree.

nooooo wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Gathering the high performance genes in your herd is the objective of any breeding program, and how successful you are can be seen in the pedigree.

see above..no way


Generation interval will quickly show whether progress is being made. I have explained how every animal has many high performing genes for every important economic characteristic in the many millions of genes in his genetic code.
The secret is to design a program to get at those high performing genes and build them into your herd.
It is interesting to note that after approx 50 years of selecting these genes all the many outstanding bulls that we have bred are beginning more and more to look like the bulls shown in the very old photos.
This indicates to me that in the beginning the selection of the early animals and the intense inbreeding while they establish colour and type was breeding a high performing animal it was only subsequently that we let that type, which I suggest was ideal for that environment, slip away.

yes, but we changed environments...

In the modern rush for single trait selection we have distorted the animal.

we changed, some would say, distorted, the environment as well

The desire for greater growth changed the type from thickset to large framed narrow cattle with little muscle and fertility dropped right away.

desire for lower birth weight and marbling are greater influencing factors imo...Charolais have muscle and growth...and birth weight

‘Giving credit to the saying if you move an animal outside its environmental shape the first thing that happens is loss of fertility.’

isn`t inherent fertility and feed/adaptation two different factors that influence conception rate?


I`ll send to Gavin for reply...
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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:46 am

If you spend 50 years stabilizing a superior genotype (however superior is defined) and phenotype (whatever that ends up looking like), then you change the environment...does that mean you have to start over?
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:03 am

PatB wrote:
april 2013 newsletter

This month I am going to talk about Phenotype verses Genotype. One is of no importance the other of vital importance. Phenotype. This is what an animal looks like. There is no way this will tell you how an animal will perform.

...........It is interesting to note that after approx 50 years of selecting these genes all the many outstanding bulls that we have bred are beginning more and more to look like the bulls shown in the very old photos.
This indicates to me that in the beginning the selection of the early animals and the intense inbreeding while they establish colour and type was breeding a high performing animal it was only subsequently that we let that type, which I suggest was ideal for that environment, slip away.

These two quotes seem a bit contradictory. If there is no way to judge how an animal will perform from it's phenotype how can looking at old photos lead you to conclude that they were high performing animals?
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:25 pm

RobertMac wrote:
If you spend 50 years stabilizing a superior genotype (however superior is defined) and phenotype (whatever that ends up looking like), then you change the environment...does that mean you have to start over?

if the environment change is from grass to corn postweaning, I think so...even only one promoter dare proclaim his cows to be fat on grass, but the progeny stay lean on corn in the feedlot; while using the same type bulls to make both...the constant of why we need differing types that can be called breeds when they renew themselves consistently...
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat May 04, 2013 12:37 am

Reply from Gavin Falloon

Mike

Must say that I have been laughing for the last few days at you comment at the beginning and the end.. Here we go on the replies and I am going to reply in order and not write out each question

1) We use 4 bulls per 100 cows. We have approx. 300 cows so we use 12 bulls, We breed about 150 bulls per year. We go through all the bulls and pick out the top 20 bulls on their performance all factor included. We then test their temperament. Then their physical soundness.. we allow ourselves to bring one bull per year that we think has something to offer, he must be high up in general performance.



2 )I decided right at the beginning, not to put any type restrictions on the animals, as the geneticist told me that he had no idea what sort on animal would appear. As far as he was concerned it had never been done before, all he knew was that it worked in improving animals and he suspected that the existing system did not work.


3) When you have been recording for many years the data is on each animal as it is selected. But it has nothing to do with the fact it is out of Blackbird or anything else.

Remembering that every animal is unique and its variation is because of the randomized genetic code that it happens to get. Any animal showing supervisory for any characteristic carries with it the heritability for that characteristic regardless of the performance of its parents.



4) First thing that you select for is fertility ,then comes longevity ,then comes ability to cope with your environment ,then comes temperament, and so on.. Rarely if ever are any of these characteristics combined in the same cluster of genes on the chromosomes



5) Environment can and is often controlled by the breeder, Our environment is as near as we can get it to the commercial producer. Although climate changes this selection pressure puts pressure on the animal to cope. In todays some animals are moved outside of the environment so the breeder supplements the environment to compensate.



6) Some characters are related but not connected. William has succeeded in moving our cows forward to conceiving under a lower body weight than I would have believed possible. Many time I have seen the cows when the bulls are going out and I have commented that the cows are too light to conceive. Every year I have been proved wrong and conception rates have remained the same. Live calves remain at around 98% which we consider to be adequate and the last 2% will always occur with natural hazards of creeks and underrunners act.



If you have one cow in your herd that calves early every year, weans a good calf and is easy to handle then that is the potential of that herd to lift it too the level that that is the average of the cows in that herd..



I wonder if this makes it any clearer. I suspect not but then it is not any clearer to me either
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: pinebank newsletter feb 2013   Sat May 18, 2013 3:24 pm

May 2013

The drought has broken and we are having good grass growth. How long it continues will be the question and whether it lasts long enough to build a base of grass for winter feed. At the moment it looks promising Stock in our area is looking remarkably well considering the short amount of feed that has been available. Long may it last. Rain has not been evenly spread over New Zealand and some of the country remains in the drought. Mainly the centre of the north island which is unusual because it is high and often the first place to get rain.

The topic of this month is ‘Outliner Bulls’, where they come from, and how best to use them.

The randomisation of genes that every animal gets at the moment of conception tends to be average for that population. There are some animals who will receive good genes and some who will receive poor genes. This is of course the normal spread. As I have explained the bigger this spread the faster the progress in improving your herd. Because the poorer genes make the bottom worse and can be culled, the better genes are farther out the top so the selected sires are farther ahead.

If you are setting out to begin a programme such as ours then the base cattle should be as diverse as possible. Something our herd most certainly was not, but a big effort was made to diversify it in the beginning. This is necessary because as the years progress, if the programme is still running there is a risk of inbreeding. Something you wish to avoid as long as possible.

As you begin to feed the high performing genes into your population by selecting your top performing bulls, and changing them each year., the concentration will begin to produce these outliner bulls. We produced our first ‘outliner’1021/69 nine years after the programme began. He was the first progeny tested bull produced in Australasia. His progeny proved superior to half-bred charolais for growth and carcase analysis in a dry lot. He became reference bull for the beginning of the Australasian Recording Scheme, and remained at the top for ten years.

Outliner bulls do not come regularly and neither do you expect them too. Sometimes there will be a period of three or four years before you get a new one, but each one must be superior to the last. Of course these bulls are used in the stud and go through the normal progeny test system. It is not until this has been completed that we can evaluate how good the bull is.

Sometimes the bull is bought back for a second mating but he has to have demonstrated his high superiority, then he is kept for the A.I team. All bulls in our A.I. team have been outliner’s in their year. It is expected that as the programme progresses, we will get better and better bulls, the cows will be dropping behind although the bottom performer will be dropped off.

With bulls you only take the very top, with cows you take the total drop, and they must calve a number of years before their worth can be realised. That is why the cows’ keeps dropping behind and the bulls keep forging ahead.

This does not mean that I do not have the greatest respect for the cow. She has to work for the whole year. Firstly she must never miss a calving and then she must bring a live calf in at weaning. She must also cope with the vagaries of the feed and weather and keep her calf alive. Our cows run under standard commercial conditions, so no hard feed in the winter. Perhaps it could be argued that they are under just as much selection pressure as the bulls . The respect that we have for our cows is manifest in the fact that we do not sell cows or embryos because we consider them to be unique. It is easy enough to change selection direction with the bulls but almost impossible with the cows.

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