2016 Annual Conference

2015 winners in the Junior Judging Contest.  Photo by Linda

2015 winners in the Junior Judging Contest. Photo by Linda

 

Yes, the 2016 Annual Conference, Show, and Sale will be here before you know it.  The dates are September 8-10 with all activities in the Dubuque, Iowa area.  Go to the Red Devon USA website for more information.  The exact time schedule for all 3 days has now been posted on the website.  The facilities for the seminars, show and sale are at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds located in Dubuque and the hotel is the Holiday Inn located at 450 Main St., Dubuque, Iowa 52001.  The phone number for hotel registrations is 563-556-2000 and mention RDUSA conference to get the group rate.  The speakers will be Gabe Brown, Dr. Allen Williams, Blaine Hitzfeld and Steve Campbell.  Dr. Williams will also be judging the show and we will have more info on the speakers later.  Friday afternoon activities including the Annual Membership Meeting will be at Rolling Meadows Devons.  This farm is located at Bellevue, Iowa and is owned by Jaime Hostetler and family.

The Blog

In order to generate more interest in the blog I will attempt to have posts on a wider variety of subjects.  By request of some Red Devon breeders, I will start with a post on livestock breeding philosophies and follow up with 2 or 3 posts on the breeding programs of a few breeders of different breeds.  I apologize, but because my past experience until the last few years has been with Herefords much of the information will be about Hereford breeders.  I have greater access to information about those breeders, but the information is applicable to any breed.  We certainly welcome comments and hope this will generate articles from other Red Devon breeders.

Disclaimer No. 1

The information in these posts are not the official views of Red Devon USA and Red Devon USA accepts no responsibility for this information.

Disclaimer No. 2

The information in these posts is not being endorsed by the author.  It is simply an attempt to dispense information and allow the readers to decide for themselves if the information will be useful in their own breeding programs.  The author will note anytime he interjects his own opinions and viewpoints in the blog posts to prevent any confusion in that area.

Livestock Breeding 101 (Part A)

Most livestock-breeding experts agree that on the most basic level there are only two breeding philosophies that breeders follow. One is that function follows form and the other is that form follows function.There are of course many variations of these two philosophies when used in the real world, but first let me try to explain what each one is.

 

Function follows form means that a breeder is trying to find the bull and/or cow that comes the closest to his/her ideal animal. Once those animals are located the breeder will line breed them to reproduce that ideal form in the offspring on a consistent basis. With this philosophy the breeder then assumes that this ideal form will lead to all the proper functions and traits that the animals are expected to have. This would imply that the ideal animal will be adapted to its environment, will breed and calf regularly, produce quality calves with quality carcasses and have any other traits considered desirable. The line breeding can have different levels of intensity and some breeders will mate animals that are very close relatives and this can lead to animals with very high inbreeding coefficients. This philosophy requires the breeder to have a very clear image in their mind of what this foundation animal should look like and not waver from that image. An example of the function follows form philosophy is the breeding methods of Gerald Fry who is widely known in the Red Devon world.

 

With the form follows function philosophy, the breeder is looking for animals that can perform all the desirable functions (breeding and calving regularly, producing desirable calves and carcasses, etc.) in the environment they have been placed. The breeder will then accept the form of these animals as is. They are selecting animals for breeding based on the animal’s ability to perform in that environment and not selecting animals on a preconceived ideal form. Once a sufficient number of functional animals are identified the breeder can choose to do some form of line breeding if he/she so desires. An example of this philosophy is the breeding and selection methods of Tom Lasater, the founder of the Beefmaster breed.

 

Naturally, in the real world things are not always straight forward. Many breeders might combine principles from both philosophies, but one philosophy will usually dominate the selection process. There are also breeders who think that both philosophies will eventually lead to very similar types (form) of animal.

 

In future blogs I will discuss the breeding program of a few breeders from different breeds and offer some personal opinions from my experience with breeding cattle.

Submitted by Roy