Current Edition

current edition

2018 Midland

Nearly 40 American Aberdeens were represented at Midland Bull Test in lots 1000 through 1039.

The breed has been split into two classes. Class 1 is represented by full-blood American Aberdeens and Class 2 is Moderators. 

The bulls sell at the end of the day on April 5, following the Simmental bulls. 

Class 1 ADG leaders

Muddy Creek Ranch of Wilsall, Mont. consigned the top four-placing bulls in the Class 1 category for ADG. The top four bulls were sired by MCR Making Money. 

Lots 1005 and 1007 tied for first and second place with a final ADG of 2.01 and ADG ratio of 120. 

Lot 1005 has a WDA of 2.06 and EPDs of RFI -0.71, Eff 106 and MBT 109, and lot 1007 has a WDA of 2.09, as well as EPDs of RFI -0.35, Eff 109 and MBT 110. 

In third, lot 1008 has a final ADG of 1.96 and ADG ratio of 117. He has a WDA of 2.12 and EPDs of RFI 1.79, Eff 90 and MBT 104.

Next, lot 1016 posted a final ADG of 1.88 and ADG ratio of 112, along with a WDA of 2.06 and EPDs of RFI -0.122, Eff 103 and MBT 106. 

The fifth-high bull for Class 1 ADG was lot 1036, consigned by Avalon Farms in Savannah, Mo., has a final ADG of 1.74 and ADG ratio of 104. The son of Colombo Park Zeffirelli has a WDA of 1.95 and EPDs of RFI -0.24, Eff 97 and MBT 101.

Class 2 ADG leaders

Lot 1033 led Class 2 for ADG with a final ADG of 2.63 and ADG ratio of 130. The Topline Aberdeen Cattle consignment from Monroe, Wash. was sired by LeRoy Brown SH Bull, had a WDA of 2.62 and EPDs of RFI 0.57, Eff 110 and MBT 113. 

Muddy Creek Ranch of Wilsall, Mont. consigned the bull with the second high ADG, lot 1022. With a final ADG of 2.59 and ADG ratio of 128, he also has a WDA of 2.55 and EPDs of RFI 2.51, Eff 99 and MBT 109. Lot 1022 was sired by MCR Crown Royal.

Lot 1039, an ICR Ranch consignment from Wilsall, Mont., was sired by MCR and has a final ADG of 2.25 and ADG ratio of 112. The bull also posted a WDA of 2.72 and EPDs of RFI 0.46, Eff 103 and MBT 108.

Another Muddy Creek Ranch consignment from Wilsall, Mont. was lot 1018, with a final ADG of 2.23 and ADG ratio of 111. The son of MCR Runaway Train has a WDA of 2.65 and EPDs of RFI -1.23, Eff 109 and MBT 108. 

Rounding out the top five was lot 1035, consigned by 4D Land and Cattle Company of Athol, Idaho with a final ADG of 2.21 and ADG ratio of 110. The son of TL Julius has a WDA of 2.2 and EPDs of RFI 1.81, Eff 97 and MBT 104. 

Class 1 WDA leaders

In Class 1 for WDA, four consignments from Muddy Creek Ranch in Wilsall, Mont., all sired by MCR Making Money, lots 1008, 1007, 1005 and 1016. 

Lot 1008 came in first with a WDA of 2.12. He also had a final ADG of 1.96, ADG ratio of 117 and EPDs of RFI 1.79, Eff 90 and MBT 104. 

Lot 1007 had a WDA of 2.09, a final ADG of 2.01 and ADG ratio of 120, as well as EPDs of RFI -0.35, Eff 109 and MBT 110. 

Lots 1005 and 1016 both had a WDA of 2.06. Lot 1005 has a final ADG of 2.01 and ADG ratio of 120, in addition to EPDs of RFI -0.71, Eff  106 and MBT 109. Lot 1016 has a final ADG of 1.88 and an ADG ratio of 112. He also has EPDs of RFI -0.22, Eff 103 and MBT 106. 

Rounding out the top five for WDA was lot 1036 from Avalon Farms in Savannah, Mo. with a WDA of 1.95. He showed a final ADG of 1.74 and ADG ratio of 104. His EPDs were RFI -0.24, Eff 97 and MBT 101. 

Class 2 WDA leaders

Lot 1039 had a WDA of 2.72, placing him at the top of Class 2 for WDA. ICU Ranch of Wilsall, Mont. consigned the bull, who also had a final ADG of 2.25 and ADG ratio of 112. Sired by MCR, he also has EPDs of RFI 0.46, Eff 103 and MBT 108.

Next, lot 1018 from Muddy Creek Ranch in Wilsall, Mont. had a WDA of 2.65, final ADG of 2.23 and ADG ratio of 111. He also has EPDs of RFI -1.23, Eff 109 and MBT 108. He was sired by MCR Runaway Train.

In third, lot 1033 from Topline Aberdeen Cattle in Monroe, Wash. has a WDA of 2.62, as well as a final ADG of 2.63 and ADG ratio of 130. The son of LeRoy Brown SH Bull and has EPDs of RFI 0.57, Eff 110 and MBT 113. 

Two bulls consigned by Muddy Creek Ranch in Wilsall, Mont., lots 1004 and 1006, came in fourth and fifth for the category with WDAs of 2.6 and 2.56, respectively. Both bulls were also consigned by MCR Runaway Train. 

Lot 1004 also has a final ADG of 1.96 and ADG ratio of 97, as well as EPDs of RFI -1.68, Eff 113 and MBT 105. 

Finally, lot 1006 posted EPDs of RFI -0.62, Eff 108 and MBT 105, as well as a final ADG of 2.03 and ADG ratio of 101. 

The American Aberdeens can be found in the Midland Bull Test Catalog on pages 124-126. Visit midlandbulltest.com for final test results. 

Crossbreeding with breeds that complement each other can help create a ranching operation the next generation can profit from, according to an animal scientist Extension specialist from the University of Nebraska. 

Passing on a viable ranching operation to the next generation is the goal for most ranchers, but passing on a ranch with just a love for cows is not the same thing, Matt Spangler tells producers. 

Complementarity

One way to create profit is by focusing on breed complementarity by crossbreeding. 

“True breed complementarity is a combination or merger of a breed that is strong in terminal strengths, like growth and carcass merit, with a breed or combination of breeds that are strong in maternal characteristics. The goal is to combine the terminal and maternal breeding systems,” he says. 

The majority of cow/calf producers sell some calves at weaning and keep some back for replacement heifers. 

“The problem with that is, we are leaving money on the table. The pervasive thought is one breed can do it all, and that is simply not true. There is not one breed out there that excels in all areas of profitability,” he says.

“It is also false to say one bull can do it all,” Spangler continues. “What if I said forget about maternal strengths and focus on terminal strengths or vice versa?” 

“The more traits we focus on, the less progress we make,” he explains.

Terminal traits

If a producer sells terminal calves at weaning and those calves excel in the same traits as the producer’s bull battery, then that producer is not maximizing profit, Spangler suggests. 

“Some would counter that is the way we have always done it, but that is not a valid argument,” he adds.

Terminal traits of importance are calf survival, male fertility, disease susceptibility, calving ease direct, growth rate, feed efficiency, carcass quality and composition. 

“If a producer selects bulls with a lower birthweight EPD for calving ease or selects bulls that have higher calving ease direct EPDs and they keep replacement heifers out of these bulls, there is a slight antagonism between calving ease direct and calving ease maternal,” Spangler explains.

He continues, “If they select for maternal calving ease over and over and over, there is a chance those daughters they keep back will have a harder time giving birth as a first calf heifer.”

On the other hand, if all the calves are terminal, meaning they were selected for terminal traits like hot carcass weight, yield grade and marbling, other negative effects can be seen, Spangler says. 

“If we use that index and keep back replacement heifers, we have just said we’re choosing bulls to breed females based on hot carcass weight, marbling and yield grade. Carcass characteristics are probably not the list we want to use to select females from,” he adds.

Trends

Genetic trends in the Angus breed, which means the average of the Angus breed, have made tremendous strides in yearling weight, hot carcass weight and carcass marbling, which are all terminal characteristics. 

“The way we think about breeds now has to be reflective of the breed averages we see today. A great example is mature cow weight. We used to think British breeds were conservative in size and continental breeds were large in mature size. Now, a lot of our British breeds have become a lot larger than the Continental breeds,” he says.

Replacements

Ideally, small ranches should keep their replacement heifers separate from the rest of the herd, like larger ranches do. 

“The challenge is, does it make sense to sort 10 to 20 heifers out of the herd and manage them as a group and have to calve at night for that small of a number? We should ask ourselves if our time could be better spent elsewhere,” he tells producers. 

“I would argue that completely eliminating calving heifers could make the ranch more profitable and certainly more enjoyable,” Spangler says. “However, these smaller herds represent a larger fraction of sale herds in the U.S. But, there is room for improvement.”

For some producers, the solution may be as simple as implementing a system where one producer produces maternal replacements and another produces terminal calves and outsources their maternal replacements from the first producer.

Challenges

Spangler sees breed means coming together, which hurts complementarity. 

“However, if we are a seedstock producer, there is nothing wrong with differentiating our cattle as maternal or terminal breeds,” he says. “Smaller cows may or may not be more efficient, but they can be more profitable bred to terminal sires.” 

“Trying to be all-purpose reduces efficiency and profitability. We can’t be all-purpose and maximize profitability. Selecting for fewer traits leads to faster progress in those traits we are selecting for,” he explains.

He referred to a quote from Burke Teichert, a cattle management consultant. 

“Let the imagination wander. What if smaller ranchers were to buy all their replacement heifers from a large ranch. The smaller ranch would never have to breed or calve a heifer, only cows. It would ensure cow size is small and allow breeding to a terminal sire to allow growth and carcass,” Spangler quoted. “All calves would then be sold with no replacements retained. The larger ranch is already breeding replacements and calving heifers, so why not breed a few more and sell some to the smaller ranch?”

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Twenty bulls from eight consignors represented the Hereford breed at Midland Bull Test in lots 970 through 990. Slated to sell on April 5 in Columbus, Mont., the bulls performed well, offering top scores for average daily gain (ADG) and weight per day of age (WDA). 

The top performing bulls are listed below. 

ADG leaders

Lot 986 from Next Generation Genetics in Endeavor, Wisc. brought the highest ADG, with a final ADG of 3.44 and ADG ratio of 125. The son of Ups Sensation 2296 ET also has a WDA of 2.89 and EPDs of BW 4.2, WW 66, YW 105, M 23, RFI -0.49, Eff 109 and MBT 111. 

Next, a Borkdale Angus consignment from Grand Marsh, Wisc. had a final ADG of 3.39 and ADG ratio of 123. Lot 994 also had a WDA of 2.65 and EPDs of BW 4.1, WW 67, YW 99, M 24, RFI 0.97, Eff 105 and MBT 107. 

In third place, lot 972, a McMurray Cattle consignment from Billings, Mont., was a son of H Victor 0136 and had a final ADG of 3.06. The son of H Victor 0136 and has EPDs of BW 3.4, WW 58, YW 95, M24, RFI -0.66, Eff 105 and MBT 101.

Next Generation Genetics of Endeavor, Wisc. also consigned the fourth-placing lot 983, with a final ADG of 2.95 and ADG ratio of 107. A son of SHF York 19H 200Z, he also had a WDA of 2.62 and EPDs of BW 2.5, WW 59, YW 87, M 17, RFI 0.15, Eff 98 and MBT 100. 

Finally, Glade Haven Herefords of Penn Yan, N.Y. consigned lot 981, the fifth-high ADG leader. With a final ADG of 2.88 and ADG ratio of 105, he also showed a WDA of 2.76, as well as EPDs of BW 1.7, WW 64, YW 101, M 30, RFI 0.99, Eff 100 and MBT 100. The lot was sired by Churchill Red Bull 200Z. 

WDA leaders

Lot 975 posted the high WDA for the Herefords, with a WDA of 3.05. Sired by Wlb Winchester Powerball 27A, he also had a final ADG of 2.66 and ADG ratio of 97, as well as EPDs of BW 3.7, WW 59, YW 96, M 24, RFI 0.18, Eff 97 and MBT 102. 

Next, Glade Haven Hereford’s lot 982 from Penn Yan, N.Y. has a WDA of 2.97, as well as a final ADG of 2.84 and ADG ratio of 103. The son of R Leader 6964 has EPDs of BW 0.7, WW 61, YW 98, M 29, RFI -0.04, Eff 102 and MBT 106. 

The third-high WDA Hereford bull was lot 986, a consignment from New Generation Genetics in Endeavor, Wisc. with a WDA of 2.89. His final ADG is 3.44, and the Ups Sensation 2296 ET son has an ADG ratio of 125. His EPDs include BW 4.2, WW 66, YW 105, M 23, RFI -0.49, Eff 109 and MBT 111.

Lot 973 was next, with a WDA of 2.84, a final ADG 2.71 and ADG ratio of 98. Sired by GHC Breakthrough 10B, he has EPDs of BW 3.5, WW 61, YW 97, M 17, RFI 0.53, Eff 94 and MBT 98. 

Rounding out the top Herefords was lot 974, a consignment from Emmanuel Polled Herefords in Moses Lake, Wash., with a WDA of 2.82. He also has a final ADG of 2.68, ADG ratio of 97 and EPDs of BW 4.9, WW 59, YW 101, M 29, RFI -0.11, Eff 106 and MBT 102. 

The Hereford bulls can be found on pages 120-122 of the Midland Bull Test Catalog. View complete test results at midlandbulltest.com.

The challenges of the beef industry extend into a wide array of issues, but John Kastelic, a veterinarian at the University of Calgary explains cattle production has changed in the last several decades, which means production must change slightly. 

“There are a lot of challenges in the beef industry,” Kastelic said. “We better be willing to move ahead and do things somewhat differently to meet those challenges.”

A look back

Historically, Kastelic mentions that beef cows calved in May, and their sons were sold at two years of age. 

“That has radically changed today. We’ve got cows calving earlier and earlier in the year,” he says. 

Additionally, many bulls are sold as yearlings, and as production sales are scheduled earlier, buyers select their seedstock earlier in the year. 

“Once people buy bulls, they stop going to bull sales, so seedstock producers have to be ready to sell earlier,” he continues. “It becomes a real challenge to get bulls to pass a breeding soundness exam early in the year so they are able to get into those early sales.”

Bull requirements

Kastelic explains bulls are expected to do several things during their lives. 

“A bulls has to identify cows in estrus, be able to mount those cows, successfully breed cows and deliver a large number of normal, fertile sperm,” he says. “If any of these are deficient, he will not be a functional breeder.” 

For example, if a bull has top-quality sperm motility, if he has a sore back and is unable to mount cows, pregnancy rates will be very low. 

Physical elements

One of the important considerations for bulls is related to scrotal circumference. 

“In general, larger testes produce more and better sperm, up to a scrotal circumference of about 35 to 37 centimeters,” Kastelic says. “We want to feed the bulls to reach genetic potential for testes size.” 

As a result, several studies have been conducted to demonstrate the impact of feeding on early bull development. 

“When we talk about developing testes, we need to talk about early versus later feeding and what we should and should not do,” Kastelic comments. “We want our bulls to be functional breeders for many, many years, so developing them is important.”

Research 

Kastelic says numerous studies have been conducted on the effects of feeding dairy bulls, and most of it was done after weaning, with limited work done in the early stages of bull development, so Kastelic’s team did a number of experiments to fill the void. 

“In this experiment, we fed three groups of bulls from 10 weeks to 70 weeks,” he explains. “These were beef bulls that were weaned early. We had one group who was fed a medium diet, which was our control group.”

The three experimental groups were low and high nutrition diets. Group one was fed low nutrition from 10 weeks to 26 weeks, and after that, half went on to a high nutrition diet and half went to medium nutrition. The third group was fed a low nutrition diet and, after 26 weeks, went to a medium-nutrition diet. 

The medium nutrition diet met 100 percent of requirements for both energy and protein, while the high nutrition diet met 130 percent of energy and protein needs. The low nutrition diet was only 70 percent of energy and protein requirements.

“All bulls received all the minerals and vitamins they needed,” Kastelic adds.

Results

“Early on, we had a diversion in terms of scrotal circumference,” Kastelic says. “The bulls on low nutrition had testes that grew at a slower pace than were the bulls fed medium and high nutrition.” 

He continues, “The bulls that were initially fed on lower nutrition had a permanently lower scrotal circumference. Even the bulls that were put on high nutrition after 26 weeks, they never caught up to the other bulls.” 

Those bulls on a low plane of nutrition to 26 weeks, then fed a medium nutrition diet had the smallest testes throughout the study. 

“The bulls that were restricted early on had testes that were roughly 20 percent smaller,” Kastelic says. 

Follow-up

After the conclusion of the first study, a second study was conducted looking at one group of bulls fed a medium nutrition diet throughout the entirety of their lifespan, from 10 weeks through 74 weeks. 

“We had a second group, which we supplemented early on. They were fed a high nutrition diet from 10 weeks until 30 weeks, and then we had a medium nutrition after that,” Kastelic explains.

Again, in the second study, even though bulls were only supplemented to 30 weeks, high-nutrition bulls had larger testes across the board. 

“At slaughter, the supplemented, high nutrition bulls had testes about 20 percent larger, and perhaps more importantly, they had roughly 30 percent more daily sperm production,” he explains.

“By feeding bulls better early, we created bulls with larger testes that produced more sperm,” Kastelic summarized. “These effects remained, even though we went back to common nutrition after 30 weeks.”

Additionally, Kastelic noted that supplemented diets after 30 weeks had a limited effect on reproductive development, including a limited ability to overcome earlier deficits. 

“We need to feed our bulls really well prior to 30 weeks at the time when we can most influence them,” he says.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

David Smith, an epidemiologist at Mississippi State University, says he largely studies infection diseases of cattle with the idea of trying to understand how to manage cattle to prevent problems. 

“Recently, we’ve been studying pneumonia in calves prior to weaning,” Smith explains, noting several management practices can impact pneumonia in calves. “I’m talking about work that’s been done by a large number of people.”

“The tradition in veterinary medicine is to think about a host-agent interaction,” Smith says. “Sometimes we think about what’s going on in the environment, but we often think about the bug and then ask if there is an antibiotic to kill it or vaccine to prevent the infection.”

He continues, “For pneumonia, we have to think broadly, because there are much broader issues that sometimes affect disease ecology.”

Disease challenges

When a calf is born, Smith says there are many hazards the calf faces between the moment it hits the ground and weaning.

“In the first few weeks of life, the calf’s big risks are the weather, injury, predators and disease,” he says. “From three weeks of age until weaning, the leading cause of death in calves is pneumonia.” 

Smith focused on pneumonia, opting to look at what goes on outside the animal that influences the risk in the herd to have the disease.

Disease agents

Further, when looking at the cause of pneumonia, Smith says all bacterial pathogens that may be connected to pneumonia are found in calves, including Mannheimias, Pasturellas, Histophilus, et cetera can be found. 

“We’re confident this is not necessary just a bovine respiratory disease (BRD) problem,” he says. “It may be present in some cases, but it’s not in all cases.” 

Further, Smith says they are suspicious about the role of bovine corona virus.

As antibodies are lost when the calf ages, Smith comments, “It doesn’t matter how high the antibody counts were, they’re gone by 90 days of age.”

While calves can also respond to disease after that point in time, prior to five to eight months of age, the immune response is slower, weaker and easy to overcome.

“There is a point in time when antibodies from colostrum are disappearing and the immune system hasn’t ramped up to full power,” Smith says. “That’s the time calves get sick.”

Risk factors

Smith explains his team looked for risk factors impacting sick calves, saying, “Those calves that got sick in the first 75 days were most likely to have a two-year-old dam for a mother. In fact, they were five times more likely to get sick if their dam was a two-year-old in the first 75 days.” 

Later illness was more likely to result in calves born to older cows. 

“We thought illness in calves before 75 days might have to do with lack of passive transfer in terms of colostrum in heifers,” he says. “Failure to receive colostrum puts calves at risk of pneumonia prior to 75 days of age.” 

  Rapid epidemics of sickness is often seen in calves that are between three and five months of age, Smith says, explaining, “These calves have lost their immunity all at the same time, leaving them more susceptible to disease.” 

“There are two patterns resulting from passive transfer of immunity, resulting in sporadic cases of disease in young calves and loss of immunity, resulting in larger outbreaks in calves that are 75 to 150 days of age,” he explains.

Environmental factors

Management practices, environmental conditions and more have implications on pneumonia in calves. 

“There was a positive association with the use of estrus cycle synchronization programs in cattle and pneumonia,” Smith says. “Producers who reported problems with pneumonia in calves also were more likely to say they use estrus cycle synchronization.”

Further, Smith adds, “They were also more likely to say they introduced calves from an outside source or that they offered supplemental feed to calves using creep feed.” 

Following the survey, Smith’s research team introduced a second study, randomly selecting control herds with less than half of one percent of calves affected by BRD and case herds, which treated more than five percent of calves treated for BRD.

Thirty control herds and 54 case herds were identified, and three factors were significantly associated with case herds, says Smith, including number of cows, whether intensive grazing was used and whether or not cows were synchronized for breeding. 

“The odds for a case herd increased with the size of the herd,” he says. “Herds that did intensive grazing were three times more likely to be a case herd, and the use of a synchronization program increased the odds that they had BRD was 4.5 times greater.” 

“We’re looking at pneumonia in calves prior to weaning as a childhood disease in cattle due to their age-related susceptibility because they’ve lost their colostrum and herd immunity,” Smith says. “Paradoxically, it seems to be associated with highly managed herds – larger herds following intensive grass and reproductive management.” 

Importance

To evaluate whether factors are important is determined by running calculations, which Smith’s team did. 

“In herds with 499 head with summer pneumonia, 71 percent of the risk is explained by herd size,” he says. 

Producer who do intensive grazing and have pneumonia can attribute 60 percent of the risk of the disease to intensive grazing. 

Finally, herds with BRD challenges that also utilize estrus synchronization can attribute 64 percent of their risk due to the synchronization strategy.

“Those are big numbers. They’re important,” Smith adds. “These three factors explain more than half of the occurrence of calf-hood BRD. Intensive management practices and larger herd size seem to be associated with BRD.” 

Explaining why

The reasons why intensive management and larger herds can lead to increased risk for BRD, according to Smith, is that the practices increase the opportunities for calves to be closer together.

“If we talk about a contagious pathogen, there are greater opportunities for one calf to share with another with these practices,” he explains. 

In particular, use of estrus synchronization can stress calves, also exposing them to dust and commingling them in pens for longer periods of time.

“As we tighten up the calving distribution and have more and more calves in a shorter period of time, they all become susceptible in a shorter window of time, leading to the sudden loss of herd immunity,” comments Smith. 

He continues, “The question for producers to ask themselves is, can we get the cost associated with summer pneumonia back by using estrus synchronization?”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..