From the Fall 2007 issue of the Isa Informer

Data maps road to success

Lorenzo Lasater serves on the BBU Board of Directors and sits on the Breed Improvement and Commercial Marketing Committees. The following article, written by Lorenzo, appeared in the July 2007 edition of the Beefmaster Cowman.

The BBU Performance Committee is pleased to introduce a new series called “Performance Matters.” We plan to bring to you a variety of topics relating to the many facets of using performance to improve your cattle, strengthen our breed and add to your bottom line. These articles will be written by industry experts as well as your fellow breeders in various parts of the country who are engaged in the Beefmaster business in many different ways.

So why does Performance Matter?

  • To compete with other breeds, we must demonstrate Beefmasters’ excellence through performance data.
  • As seedstock producers, we each have a responsibility to examine the relative genetic merit of the cattle we raise.
  • This is a business, and we will receive more income, both in the near and far terms, for cattle with performance behind them.
  • We can only make good breeding decisions if we know where we’ve been and where we hope to go.

Performance in cattle can mean many things: It could be an animal’s ability to gain weight, a cow’s skill at raising a good calf and rebreeding in a 365-day period, or the type of growth traits a semen bull will bring to your herd. Basically, we are looking for ways to measure the genetic potential of cattle to excel in many different traits, and collecting performance data on our cattle allows us to measure where we’ve been and plan for where we’d like to go.

The old saying goes “We cannot change what we cannot measure.” This is absolutely true in cattle breeding. BBU’s Weights and Measures program provides a critical tool in measuring the performance of our own cattle and the breed as a whole. One of the important goals of your Breed Improvement Committee is to increase our members’ use of W&M. As of today, only 12% of our members participate in W&M. There is good news though—57% of all cattle registered have a weaning weight turned in. This means we need to do a better job of educating and including our members with fewer cattle.

If you don’t already have one, call BBU today and ask for a Weights and Measures handbook. It has all the background information to help you be successful with your in-herd performance program. If you have a handbook, but haven’t read it in a while, please do so. It really is helpful.

There are some important changes coming in the way BBU handles its performance data, which will improve the ease-of-use of our performance tools and also enhance the quality of our breed-wide database. We plan to use this space to provide detailed explanations of how to use these new innovations to improve your cattle and your business. An important thing to keep in mind is that all of these programs are voluntary. They are there to help you improve your cattle and the breed as a whole. It is up to you to participate and the breed needs your help!

The Six Essentials provides Beefmaster breeders the perfect roadmap by which to raise productive, beautiful, profitable and high-performing cattle. Selection for different traits allows us to push our herd in the direction we wish, but we must always strive for balance. It is critically important that we never get caught up in the trap of single-trait selection.

The Breed Improvement Committee appreciates your taking the time to read this column, and we look forward to bringing you articles about performance that will be interesting and useful to your business. If we work together we can continually improve the quality of Beefmaster cattle and the breed’s stature in the cattle industry. Now, get out there and weigh some calves!

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