DCC Ranch e-News #98, 2-3-2017
Secrets For Raising Great Bulls
by Darol Dickinson
Only 90 Texas Longhorn bulls, at the end of 2016, had reached the coveted measurement of over 80" T2T. With a history of hundreds of thousands of bulls bred and raised from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, it is still a total of just 90.
Make no mistake. Horn measurement is not the only value quality to consider. Each producer places their favorite virtue at the top of the list. There could be rate of gain, disposition, crazy color, show conformation, famous pedigrees or any number of historic values.
It has been the mystery of thousands of dedicated Texas Longhorn producers - why only such a few great bulls? Are they being raised and sold by accident as ropers? Were they slow developers and did not show early qualities? Did they take a fast trip to the local wholesale auction barn? Were the bulls incorrectly mated and just poor pedigrees -- wrong matings? Were the young bulls not fed well and failed to show adequate qualities? Did the owners not have skills to accurately pick them out of the calf crop? How do dozens of great bulls slide through the cracks and be genetically lost in the ozone every year? Are there numerous errors in evaluation or in genetics?
The methods used by 5000 Texas Longhorn breeders to select the next generation of great sires is unknown. Each producer knows what their business/genetic plan is. However, at Dickinson Cattle Co, LLC, right or wrong, we know how we are making these decisions. Here is the process:
- 450 cows are naturally bred to breed leading sires each Summer
- About 125 of these are AI bred to either unrelated sires or sires used at DCC successfully in the past.
- Adult cows are bred to 14 adult bulls. About 100 yearling heifers are bred to yearling bulls or AI bred. An average of 18 natural sires are used each year.
- At weaning time the bull calves are divided into groups.
- Calves not good enough for herd sires are banded and grown for freezer beef.
- Calves with special color or horn genetics are banded and retained for exhibition steers.
- The best 65 bull calves are watched, weighed, measured, tested for disposition, and given time to grow their expression of quality. They are all grown out exactly the same so evaluation data is easy to calculate. Each age group is penned separate.
On the item (c) bulls:
- Each month or so some will be removed from the evaluation group and demoted to the steer pasture - a sad day.
- DCC's top goal is to identify 3 to 6 bulls that will be genetic improvement sires for ranch use. These are not for sale... no way.... not now.
- Bulls with duplicate pedigrees that are too closely related to the DCC herd will be placed on the ranch inventory list for early sale. These may be economical or high value. Over a period of months these will be sold privately. DCC is honored to provide young bulls for many new and repeat producers.
Yesterday the bulls being tested in one pen, born from March 25, 2016 to April 15, were moved out of the testing barn. Their hay racks were filled and their pen was cleaned. Please take one minute to celebrate with the DCC young bulls the stampede back to their Winter barn and their joy of crunching down on new pasture hay. Just click the link.....