Bull selection is a defining variable for profitability in the cattle industry, and while EPDs have turned bull buying from psychic to science, the sheer number of tools available to producers can lead to information overload. During the 2019 Ranch Gathering at Dalebanks Angus Ranch, the Perrier family joined bull buyers to pay homage to game-changing technology.
“There’s no right or wrong way to go about genetic selection,” Matt Perrier said. “But there is a profitable way to look at what you have and where you want to go and figure out how to use genetics to help you get there.”
The 2019 Ranch Gathering took producers through a series of selection exercises based on EPDs and phenotypic requirements with the intent to educate bull buyers on finding the right bull rather than the perfect bull. Perrier encouraged participants to narrow down their bull needs and to focus on adding profitability as well as performance.
Long-time ranchers and Dalebanks customers Ed Koger of Hashknife Ranch in Wilmore, Kansas, and Clint Huntington of Huntington Ranch in Eureka, Kansas, led a panel discussion focusing on their own personal bull-buying wish lists.
“For me, the secret to success in the cattle business has been not being afraid to spend money for good animals,” Koger said. “We keep all of our own replacement heifers that we raise ourselves and there’s just so much that can be done with the EPDs we have now.”
Koger said while buying the most expensive bulls isn’t his goal, he evaluates any additional over-budget costs he may be incurring over the life of the bull and his ability to add value to his progeny. The result may be going $1,000 over budget on a bull that could potentially recoup those costs over just a few calves.
In his experience, Koger said monitoring bull EPDs strongly tied to mature cow traits during the selection process makes a difference in the overall efficiency of his herd, especially when he is raising and selecting replacement heifers.
“I don’t need a big cow to make a profit,” Koger said. “The bigger the cow, the more feed you have to give her, and feed is always the highest cost a cowman has to deal with.”
Bull selection can be a profitability-defining process for any ranch and EPDs can both simplify and complicate bull-buying. For Perrier and Dalebanks Angus Ranch, EPDs are a welcome genetic advancement that can be used to simplify the genetic decision-making process both on their own ranch and for their customers.
“It’s interesting as we have characterized more and more traits in the Angus breed, and all breeds really,” Perrier said. “EPDs are all tools that can be used with phenotypic evaluation, with understanding of how breeders are developing those bulls, and that’s what goes into that buying decision.”