"K.I.S.S." summarizes our theory on cattle---"Keep it simple, stupid!". The beef cow/calf business is not terribly complicated. It is our job to let these cows convert the abundance of inexpensive forage into a quality protein product for our eating pleasure while we maintain the quality of the environment, maintain the quality of our life, and profit from our endeavor.
We have to let the cows work for us---not we work for the cows.
To achieve this theory, we have to have cows that are as maintenance free as possible. Here is a list of items that dictate if a cow stays at Huth Cattle Co.:
- She has to be fertile, a calf every year is a must.
- She has to have the calf unassisted, be a good mother, and have enough milk to let the calf express its growth potential.
- She has to have a disposition that does not compromise the safety of those who work with her.
- Her udder has to be sound and not need any assistance in milking out at calving. Large teats and bad udder suspension will not be tolerated.
- She has to be sound structurally, with no feet or leg problems that inhibit her traveling with the herd.
- Her calf has to grow rapidly and have the genetic potential to produce a carcass that is acceptable to the consumer with adequate marbling and muscling potential.
- She has to do this all in a moderate size package to avoid excessive feed consumption and be feed efficient as possible.
- She has to do this all without any pampering and be happy with never going into a barn.
Whoa! We just complicated the cow business. We are breeding for a number of antagonistic traits---genetic traits that don't go together---such as easy calving, low birth weight vs. rapid growth, rapid growth vs. milk production, rapid growth vs. moderate size cow, easy doing vs. red meat yield. We have to balance the traits.
To attack our goals, we keep careful records on our cattle. On every animal in our herd, we record the birth date, birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, ultrasound or carcass information, breeding information, and calving information. We submit these records to the breed association which the animal is registered. They calculate various ratios for the various traits. The breed associations use this information from my herd and other herds to calculate E.P.D.'s for the various traits.
E.P.D.'s---expected progeny differences---is the best tool that the cattlemen have available in the selection of cattle---especially in the selection of cattle with antagonistic traits. I admit that E.P.D.'s are not perfect---sort of like working on a Corvette with an adjustable wrench---but E.P.D.'s are the best subjective measurement we have available or comparing cattle in herds and between herds. For a good explanation of E.P.D.'s, all breed associations handle this well in their own web site, so just go to the related links page and hook into their web sites. I am a firm believer that E.P.D.'s do work!