Do you have your breeding objectives sorted?
Central Tablelands LLS Livestock Officer, Brett Littler
With this bull buying season coming to a conclusion it is very interesting to see how some people approach their selection and purchase of the 'right bull' for their breeding situation. Going around sales and listening and talking to some producers regarding their criteria for getting the "right bull" has led me to ask what their breeding objective is, what their goals are and what market are they targeting. All up the responses I have received have been quite varied and some are saying that they did not really have a goal for their cattle/bull, quite a scary thing when you consider that a bull will have a direct impact for the next 10 years (see picture below) and major impact on your breeding herd for the next 15 to 20 years.
Sire selection generally dominates genetic direction of a herd
So, how do you set out some clearly defined breeding objectives which you implement a deliver a successful breeding program?
Below is a summary of the key steps in planning and implementing a successful breeding program. These steps are no different from those used for any other investment decision in your beef enterprise.
A stepwise approach to planning and implementing a successful breeding program
Step 1: List the traits of economic importance
Step 2: List your future customers' requirements
Step 3: List your future herd production targets
Step 4: List your herd's current performance
Step 5: List your breeding goals
Step 6: Choose an appropriate breeding system to achieve your goals
Step 7: List your criteria for selecting replacement bulls
Step 8: Prioritise the selection criteria
Step 9: Apply patience and consistency in implementing your breeding program
In most beef breeding enterprises, significant opportunities exist for using improved breeding programs to enhance long-term profitability. The beef industry is equipped with the knowledge and tools to make faster genetic progress than at any other time in history. Unfortunately, most beef producers will fail to obtain the full potential benefits from genetic improvement because of inadequate planning of their breeding objectives, inadequate use of available information to help in their breeding decisions, and lack of patience and consistency in implementing their breeding programs.
To fully benefit from genetic improvement it is essential to carefully plan the appropriate direction for your breeding program, and to persist with a long-term strategy to pursue this direction in the face of short- and medium-term challenges to your enterprise.