July/August 2021 California Cattleman

Page 26

DEVELOPING BULLS for the

COMMERICAL CATTLEMAN by Managing Editor Stevie Ipsen Though often reserved and kept to themselves, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more educated than today’s rancher. Not only are they inquisitive students of the industry, they are often more aware of the environment than a meteorologist, as adept at animal health protocols as some veterinarians, and are as reliable at predicting the success of a mating as many genetic formulas. Like any specialist, experience in their field – coupled by a willingness to adapt – is what determines their level of proficiency. When it comes to raising breeding bulls, seedstock cattlemen are learned experts who don’t come by their knowledge easily. Unlike more ruthless industries, time and time again purebred beef producers share what they know to help other cattlemen and women prosper. For commercial cattlemen, their seedstock suppliers are one of the most important parts of their business. As bull sale season lies directly before us, seedstock producers across the state are gearing up for the finale event of a long list of preceding events. In fact, the most important aspects of a successful bull sale happen years, sometimes even decades before the culminating bull sale. From developing a reliable cowherd to learning the best way to feed high-performing herd bulls, the most intricate details of sale season are the parts no one ever sees. For commercial cowcalf producers looking to invest in genetics this spring, California’s seedstock 26 California Cattleman July • August 2021

producers have a great deal to offer and you need look no further than your backyard to find a seedstock operator who is not only willing to help you find what you are looking for, he has already been hard at work doing just that long before this year’s bull offering hit the ground. Bryce Borror of Tehama Angus Ranch in Gerber says it takes years of building a functional cow herd to produce bulls that will go to work in any environment. “It takes generation upon good generation of good mother cows mated to the right functional sires. Then you put those genetics to work in your environment,” Borror said. In addition he says it takes countless hours pouring over A.I. stud catalogs, making calls to other breeders who have used similar genetics or run cattle in similar environments. Getting feedback from past buyers and potential customers is also important in knowing what producers want in a bull is also a critical step, Borror says. He emphasizes there is also the never-ending list of herd health protocols and management steps that have to be met to get a bull calf all the way to being a sire prospect. This includes everything from pre-breeding cow vaccines all the way to the breeding soundess exam and everything in between, he says.

GOALS

A good bull development program has to include an attainable game plan. For some producers this may mean beginning by evaluating the resources they have available. Facilities, labor and land are just a few of the resources that have to be considered when it comes to raising and developing young bulls. A proper bull development program involves a lot of cost management and a welldesigned nutrition and herd health program – not to mention people who can be on hand to implement such a round-the-clock program. So capital is also a concern. In addition to the physical goals needed on the operation itself, seedstock producers also need to know what they are aiming for in terms of the bulls they are seeking to produce. Some questions they likely ask themselves on a routine basis are: Who am I raising bulls for? What are some consumer trends in the beef industry I need to be aware of ? What does the commercial cattleman need? What will it take for me to develop bulls for him or


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