Where can you find a superior bull that will make your herd stand out? I suggest you start by looking at the cows you have right now!

Dennis McDonald in Galt, Missouri has been selecting bulls from his own herd for the past 10 years. There is a high probability that, at this point, every cow and bull in his herd has a low level of kinship. In the process of mixing and matching, culling and selecting, Dennis has produced 3 bulls that are phenotypically better than he could possibly buy and all on grass without requiring any of the feed supplements that mask the real animal.

The breakthrough occurred five years ago when Dennis segregated 32 of his best cows in one herd and put them with his best bull, the one with extreme masculinity, deep wide chest and wide rump. Every cow calved in the first 28 days of the breeding season. All of the calves were superior in growth; all have good glandular function and a greater volume of meat (retail product) than their peers in the rest of his herd.

Dennis bred the heifers from those matings to a half brother and began the next level of genetic concentration and selection. The secret to Dennis’ success is his ability to select. He is now at the point that culling is easier. He has developed a standard for his herd. There is no way Dennis could go outside and buy bull genetics that are synchronized or predictable and consistent with his cows. Beyond that, he is putting his bulls back on his cows for about $500 a year.

Dennis is concentrating the genetic makeup of his cows and bulls to perform on his grass and environment. He has been collecting data such as loin size and shape, tenderness and intramuscular fat and back fat by the use of ultrasound. Each animal is also measured and assessed for width and depth and heart girth, for the volume of saleable retail product, glandular function and structure. Only animals that meat the selection points critical to producing high quality meat are permitted back into the herd.

If you are a cattleman with a smaller herd and you aspire to create your own bulls you may need to do a little AI breeding from a superior bull for 3-4 generations to create a concentration of your own gene pool from your own cow herd. Should you choose to begin such a project do your homework.

Every cattleman knows his best cows. They are the ones that put the best calves with the most meat on the carcass and do the best on your pasture and in your environment. You select a superior bull that has a brother or very close relative that is superior so breeding the heifers back will yield the desired type and the genetic makeup will stay constant in the building process. Do not outcross.

After you have established the desired genetic make-up of the herd, you can switch back and forth between the two bulls as time requires. Before long other sons will evolve from the breeding program. If at some point after the paternal sire line has been established, you need some type of change in conformation or performance you should find an outside female and introduce her to the sire and bring about change through establishing a new blood line with the already established sires. Remember the female is a genetic helpmate.

The paternal sire is very obtainable in a herd of 20 cows. In every herd there are at least 10% of the cows which are superior. So if you have two superior cows and breed them to a superior bull you have begun a superior blood line. Record and watch what happens over a few generations. Selection of the cows and a great bull is the beginning point. Select, believe and seek wisdom and watch the changes come.

The larger cattle industry has gone in the opposite direction for the past 50 years and consider where we are now: hard-doing, inefficient, unhealthy cattle with low fertility and meat that tastes like cardboard. Will you help your herd break out of that box? It is time for a new set of leaders and a new set of rules in “our” industry. You and I are those leaders. Let us do it right!!