Build a Foundation for Great Show Steers
A breeder looking to raise show steers, or calves in general, should breed cows for quality and consistency. This can be achieved by taking into consideration your cowherd and traits you desire from the AI (artificial insemination) or herd bulls available. Using bulls with a proven breeding record of producing quality cattle, producers should also desire consistency in their animals whether the animal be for show or commercial purposes.
Trial and error will come into play at the start until a breeder finds which bulls click on his or her cows. Pedigree and desired traits definitely need to be considered, however, and also dominance of traits like homozygous polled, color, disposition & calving ease.
For years, a good Angus-based cowherd has been the standard for show steer and club calf production whether it was SimXAngus, Maine Angus, ChiX Angus or pure bred (PB) Angus. Now, regardless of mix, Angus breeding still needs to be the herd’s foundation mainly because of consistency: many of the popular AI bulls have an Angus base or a fairly high percent of Angus in them.
Mothering ability and ease of fleshing need to be a factor in your selection for a cow. Angus can fill the bill here.
Regardless of what breeding the cowherd is, bloodlines and phenotype should be considered most important when building quality. Consistency of the mating certainly comes into play. Finding a click or good genetic fit, in a mating means producing just as good if not better progeny than the sire and dam: a superior female bred to a superior sire to birth and raise even better offspring. Basically, if the mating works, keep using it; striving for perfection every time.
Nothing more confirms these facts than embryo transfer which is extremely popular with some breeders. You can get a lot of quality progeny out of one awesome mating. In embryo transfer, a donor cow is super ovulated to produce many eggs and then is AI’d to the sire that is proven to click on the fore mentioned cow. After the breeding takes place, embryos will begin developing in the cow whether it be one or multiple embryos. More emphasis on the later is ideal. The embryos will then be flushed, or transferred, from the donor cow to the recipient cows. You will need a recipient cow for every embryo to be transferred. The recipient cows need to be easy fleshing, good milking, well disposition, and endowed with a strong mothering instinct. Although her offspring will not have any of her physical traits, genes or otherwise, her disposition will be passed to the calf. A breeder should treat the recipient cows no differently then any other bred cow.
In addition, don’t be too caught up in or put too much importance on new bulls on the scene. First, go with what has worked and proven for the majority of your cows. Maybe experiment with one or two new bulls on a small number of cows to have an idea of how the newbies breed. Three-way crossbred sires are very popular for club calves. Nevertheless, breeders need to be careful in using crossbreds because consistency can be sacrificed if too much crossing is done. A two-way cross or a purebred sire can be more consistent in breeding.
Using these fundamentals, you will have a good foundation for raising quality show steers and cattle in general.