Farm Talk


March 6, 2012

Bulls with numbers becoming more common

Parsons, Kansas — Do the bulls you are using or plan to buy have numbers on them?

"Your bulls may not have numbers printed on their side, but hopefully their breeder has provided their numbers to you," said Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The Angus bull (pictured) has numbers that represent his genetic breeding potential expressed as expected progeny difference (EPD) on the top row. The young bull does not have progeny data yet so he's referred to as a non-parent bull.

EPDs do not predict actual performance such as weaning weights. However, they do a very effective job of comparing two or more bull's progeny difference when bred to a similar set of females and managed under a comparable system.

Those familiar with a breed and their EPD system, become comfortable understanding how that bull with a particular set of EPDs should move their herd.

"Commercial producers may use two, three or even more breeds in their bull buying process. For them, remembering the exact EPD for each breed becomes a challenge. Some breeds may have 20 EPDs to consider, others may only have 5 or so," said Cole.

EPD understanding may be simplified for some by using a percentile rank shown on the lower row of the pictured bull. The percentile rank indicates the relative rank within a breed for each EPD value.

The EPDs shown on the bull read from left to right: calving ease direct, weaning weight, yearling weight, milk, marbling and ribeye area. The 9 calving ease EPD puts him in the 15th percentile or near the top of the Angus, non-parent bulls for expected calving ease.

The 52 pounds refers to weaning weight EPD and the 30 below it ranks him in the top 30 percent. Different people understand things in different ways so this may help some of you understand EPD and percentile rank more clearly.

"Bull or semen shopping is made easier if you have objective data such as weights, carcass grades etc. available on your herd. That data should help you determine whether you need to invest in a bull from the top 25 percent of the breed or if one that's around 50 percent (average) will suffice. Not every herd needs the most extreme bull in the barn," said Cole.

A more detailed discussion on understanding EPDs may be found by checking out the web site for the breeds you are considering for a purchase. Most breeders have a good understanding of EPDs and should be able to help you as can University of Missouri Extension livestock specialists.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Text Only
  • Cattle markets likely topped for now

    Most of Oklahoma received rain in the past week with roughly half the state receiving one to over three inches and a few areas receiving even heavier rains that filled ponds which have been low or dry for many months.
    Forage growth, which had just begun to stall under summer heat, has picked back up.  Summer heat is forecast to return this week and, along with high humidity from recent rain, will lead to sweltering heat indices that will impact both cattle and the producers who care for them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Follow BQA guidelines when treating and selling cows

    Summer time often brings a few infectious ailments to beef cows.  Common problems include eye infections and foot rot.

    July 15, 2014

  • Mixed emotions in the beef industry

    The beef industry is experiencing a wide range of emotions at the current time.  The level of excitement is obvious as cattle and beef prices have pushed even beyond record levels of earlier this year.

    July 8, 2014

  • Heat impacts bull fertility

    Recently a producer asked about the impact that the heat of the summer of 2012 may have had on the reduced calf crop that was discovered the following spring.

    July 1, 2014

  • charolaisXheifer.jpg Summer cattle market conditions

    Summer officially started this past weekend and cattle markets so far have shown little of the seasonal pressure that has been expected.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Monitor medicated mineral intake

    Medicated minerals are available and frequently used to help prevent the blood-born disease, anaplasmosis. A consistent and appropriate intake of the mineral is critical to a successful anaplasmosis prevention program.

    June 17, 2014

  • Should cow/calf producers lock in fall calf prices?

     In recent article, I discussed record high feeder cattle prices as well as the lack of profits for current feedlot placements. While current price levels offer little or no profit opportunity for buyers of feeder cattle, those same prices could result in record or near record profits for cow-calf producers this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • Feeder cattle markets red hot

    Widespread rains over the Memorial weekend may have curtailed holiday activities but were enthusiastically welcomed by cattle producers in the Southern Plains.

    June 3, 2014

  • Is beef herd expansion underway?

    The effects of many years of cattle herd liquidation and the inevitable decreases in beef production have become glaringly obvious in 2014. Cattle slaughter is down 6.3 percent leading to a 5.7 percent decrease in beef production so far this year.

    May 28, 2014

  • cowshotwire.jpg Record feeder prices supported by latest data

    Last week, the Oklahoma combined auction price for 450-500 lb., Med/Large, No. 1 steers was $237.27/cwt., up 46 percent from one year ago.

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content