For nearly 2 decades, Legends Cattle Company has been on a quest to find the best bull genetics possible to move our cattle herd forward and continue proudly selling commercial bulls to our customers across Texas and beyond.
Early in our business, when it came time to add another bull to our own herd, we chose a registered animal with outstanding performance records, pedigree, and genotypes. Many professionals advised us to be cautious with these high-growth bulls as they did not always sire great cows. They were right; we bred them to our best cows but were not always happy with the results.
We felt the need to improve the management of these high-brow cattle, so we pursued more aggressive supplement and mineral programs, costly blue-ribbon vaccination protocols, and other tactics to achieve better results. Some cattle delivered consistent and exceptional results throughout the years in the various management programs, while others delivered inconsistent results at best.
We focused our efforts on those ‘Legendary’ cows with the consistent and exceptional results. We began an aggressive flushing program to get as many progenies from these cows as we could get mated to the highest confidence sires that we sourced from major seedstock producers and AI studs. Simultaneously, we took the top half of our herd and mated them AI to those nationally-recognized AI sires.
But still, we were not completely satisfied with the results. It seemed that sometimes we were breeding the cattle in the wrong direction; however, when we phenotype scored our yearlings, we saw the bull-bred animals were getting higher scores than the older AI bred calves.
Given the significant investment we had been making in AI and ET genetics, we decided we no longer needed to pay up to $10,000 for a top of the line clean-up sire as we had been using bulls raised for clean-up and yet were scoring their offspring higher than the “breed leaders”! Perhaps those that told us they didn’t make great cows were right after all.
The DNA Results Point to the Best Bull Genetics
After running DNA tests to compare the genotypes of our genetic base to the semen in our tank, we hoped this might tell us which of those AI sires to focus on, or perhaps even that our cattle were comparable to these ‘big time’ AI sires.
When the report arrived we anticipated it would reveal our next feature sire to build our herd around for the future and entered the information into our DNA database. After analyzing averages, highs, and lows, we were surprised to find there was no measurable difference between the bulls we tested and the major sires from AI studs. We did notice that our cattle tended to be more feed efficient. We surmised that it is because most of the major genetics are developed in areas where there are plentiful sources of low-cost feed such as distiller’s grains or soy hulls. However, in our area of the country there is only exceptionally high-cost feed, so we are forced to make our cows hustle their own grub in the pasture.
Years of selling open cull cows and keeping back those cattle that survived in our environment have paid off. So, we continue in our quest for the best genetics possible to move our cattle herd forward. Until proven wrong, we will use Legends Herd Sires in our ET program, AI program, and for clean-up sires. After all, our research shows us that these are the best bull genetics for making great females, and Legends Cattle Company wants to continue proudly selling the best commercial bulls to our customers.