Monday, May 2, 2022

Clay says: Steps to remember as we prepare for calving season


Do you expect some early calves that may come when weather creates damp, cold conditions?  We can provide economical calf jackets to help a valuable calf retain body heat.

Are you prepared for that lunker bull calf trying to be born from your favorite show heifer? Check your tack box: if you need
calf pulling chains and handles  we have them in stock.

Need protection from calf respiratory issues?    We can provide
Enforce 3 (administer at birth) which offers a “state of the art” level of vaccine immunity building.

Have you provided pregnant cows with free choice vitamin/minerals (block or loose)?    If not, we can provide injectable
Vitamin E (with A and D added) to help them get off to a good start.

If your animals (of any age) are facing feed transitions, we stock
Conklin “Fastrack” as an oral paste, a dry feed topdress/additive, and as a “liquid dispersible” used on bottle calves.

As calves are falling, you may wish to check out the availability of both established and newer sires.     We receive shipment from “Cattle Visions” every two weeks, beginning in the calving season.    You can insure access to the higher demand sires with an early order.

Ordering your semen through us, pooling all your orders into full shippers, minimizes shipping costs per straw.     We then absorb the shipping costs so you only pay the semen price.

We now have access to the S T Beef program, which has favorable prices on gender selected semen (mostly focusing on purebred bulls from all the major breeds).    

For those utilizing seasonal storage of tanks and semen, just let us know the projected date for beginning your AI program in the spring:  we will match to our delivery schedules.    Any semen you wish ordered prior to bringing your tank, it will be placed in your tank directly from receipt, minimizing exposure to handling from UPS or Fed/Ex shipment.
    (We always add nitrogen into vapor shippers when they arrive, so straws are at the safest nitrogen temp. before transfer.)

Not certain your tank is still holding up to specifications?

Each year we have a couple customers lose their semen from semen tank failure.    If you doubt your tank, we can do a scale test here—there is still time to do this prior to the AI season.    Clay also will check semen samples for basic motility (we have a new microscope) if you wish, given enough lead time to fit that into his busy schedule.    Our goal is: one-stop
full service.

Genetics  vs  Heredity

 today is really more “mathematical” than biological.     “Population Genetics” is the collection and collation of “data”.    The range of data, within a single environment, from any measurement suggests whether the trait may be influenced in offspring by “genetic selection”.

Heredity  in a classic sense is more biological, ie, can we determine that a trait, a characteristic, or a behavior is based in the genotype?    If so, can we determine its causal genes, and assemble (or delete) those genes from ancestry so as to maintain or eliminate them?

From year to year, you may observe differences within or across your cow herd and the calves produced.    Is their success or failure genetic?     There is a simple “rule of thumb”:

For example,
If ALL your calves are getting pneumonia, that is an environmental issue (requires a manager intervention).      If only SOME calves are getting pneumonia, while the majority of calves stay healthy, that could be a “genetic” difference (check to see who sired the calves with pneumonia, as well as which cows birthed them).

“Genetic” differences occur in two ways:  the sire or dam is defective in that trait, OR, it is a mating effect (tendencies the sire and dam hold in common, brought forth from the mating).

The size of the “genetic” difference (as measured) can still be affected by “management” as a result of inputs added or choices made.    For example:

provides creep feed to calves still nursing cows.    “Joe” does not.    “John” ends up with heavier weaning weights than “Joe”.     The differences in weaning weight, once sorted by sires of the calves, within each herd, enter into the indexes for weaning weights for each sire.    The differences between creep-fed and non-creep-fed calves may increase the range of weaning weights for John’s calves, but not for Joe’s calves; thus sires used by John may get a bigger kick in their indexes (which are a summary of deviations between calves and herdmates same age).

Genetics assume those differences between sires John uses will replicate themselves when Joe uses them as well.    If they do not, they blame it on an Epigenetic effect (how genes alter their behavior according to environment differences or sudden changes).    

The current practice of Genomic testing is to assign “genetic” (trait) values based on marker genes identified within the breed genotype as associated with traits already measured over a period of generations.    Thus “values” can be assigned prior to measured performance.   This is currently in vogue with the major breeds, but its lack of consideration for either mating effects or epigene response makes many cow-calf breeders question how much they can rely on them.

Pedigree ancestry for obvious reasons remains the basis of all “genetic” evaluation methods, even DNA mapping.    We judge a bull by the performance of his offspring…

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