Heritability of phenotype.

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Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:41 pm

Well its bull buying season, and Im browsing the catalogs. The general rule of thumb is to buy a bull that looks awesome. Which I get. I think its also the traditional thought process. We would shop for looks cause thats all we had before we had "data". So I have often wondered how important is phenotype. I like to buy say the bottom end of a flush brother. Say 3 out of a flush. The top 2 might be $7-8000 then Ill buy the 3rd one will be $3K for example. So thats what Id buy. I do ai, but you can pick a good bull as easily as a bad one with ai.

So I had pasture this summer next to a kid who bought some bred heifers from his boss. They have AIed for years. Genetics come from the cow as much as the bull. They also spend good money on bulls, and he puts phenotype ahead of numbers. Ive bought heifers from him as well. They have good cattle. Well I watched this kids pairs across the fence when Id go to check my cows. Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side. Over the summer I had kinda convinced myself that I need to pay more attention to phenotype and maybe spend more on bulls.

One person told me that flush brothers are like your own siblings...DNA is all the same, but everyone looks different. Then I got to thinking about Final Answer 2. IMHO, IDK if Final Answer or N Bar EXT were a phenotypical stand outs. Yet their clones are so ugly, they cant post a picture of them in the catalog! So I guess my question is how heritable is phenotype? Yes, it transmits down. Yes, you need to buy more than just a pair to make a calf. How much of a premium do you spend on looks vs. numbers or carcass data? Ive never felt the need to compete against the neighbors for sexiest bull contest. Feed creates bucket muscle and inturpulates EPD's/carcass data.

I guess after watching my neighbors cattle and knowing it comes from the bull and the cow....I had kinda convinced myself that I need to be looking for a front end bull instead of trying to buy a sleeper thats a bargin but still respectable. After thinking about the previous paragraph, Im starting to question my logic.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Ebenezer » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:56 pm

One person told me that flush brothers are like your own siblings...DNA is all the same, but everyone looks different. Then I got to thinking about Final Answer 2. IMHO, IDK if Final Answer or N Bar EXT were a phenotypical stand outs. Yet their clones are so ugly, they cant post a picture of them in the catalog! So I guess my question is how heritable is phenotype?


You're mixing apples and watermelons in comparing full sibs from a flush and a clone. Can't do that. Not even close to one another in discussion.

Phenotype is more than a side profile picture. It includes environmental factors, environmental reaction and might be as much (or more) a case of gestational programming as genetics. If you "read" animal traits, like Bonsma did, external traits are valuable.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:11 pm

Yes, I realize full sibs would have the same mother vs flush having recips. Some recips better than others etc. Im also talking about the same contemporory group. Not different herds.

Guess at the end of the day...if I drop 10K on a bull thats a stud, what are the odds that he will transmit his studliness to his calves? I realize some sire groups are more consistant that others. I don't need to compete with the neighbors for the hottest looking bull.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Son of Butch » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:21 pm

Come on Amo... Have you ever spent $10,000 on a bull or just bragging?
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:27 pm

Son of Butch wrote:Come on Amo... Have you ever spent $10,000 on a bull or just bragging?


Lol, neither...sarcasim! I know quite a few that do though. The herd I was talking about come close to spending that. Back in say 2015 when everything was high this guy did spend that much on several bulls. Course they sell 20-40 head of heifers out of a 4-500 hd cow heard. So if he keeps 30 or so, he's being pretty picky on what he turns into a cow.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Boot Jack Bulls » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:04 pm

I personally think its highly heritable. We started with a pretty average herd of commercial and Limi cows years ago. They had growth/performance, but were nothing extra special to look at. We used what ever decent bull we could get our hands on and had decent looking calves. Then, I convinced my mother that it was time to invest in what I consider a "once or twice in a lifetime animal". We did diligent research and leg work, and came home with a NWSS Champion Carload bull that blew the socks off anything in our part of the world. We bred him to everything and the results were staggering. Our average herd produced a full set of replacements that we couldn't have hoped for in our wildest dreams. I'm talking heifers that won the state fair and every other show we could get to. Nearly every female, and several of my stud bulls, go back to that sire. They are to this day, the mainstay of our purebred program. Our only regret is not getting him collected before he died (after only one breeding season mind you).
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:15 pm

That's what has always scared me before about spending a lot is not lasting long. Better forms of insurance now. Still gotta live within my means though.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Boot Jack Bulls » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:26 pm

Amo wrote:That's what has always scared me before about spending a lot is not lasting long. Better forms of insurance now. Still gotta live within my means though.

You definitely have to weigh cost vs benefit. And to be honest, in our case, the breeder did a ton to make it right, even though it was clearly not a situation where he had to. I have noticed a lot of breeders (Limi breeders anyway) who are guaranteeing the bull through the entire first breeding season, no questions asked. To me, it goes a long way to the quality of operation you are dealing with if they stand behind their stock to some extent. I think the person who takes time to do research and put on some miles is the one who can get a pretty good deal.

And yes, insurance may be a wise idea.You can select plans that cover pretty much any loss on a bull, but you will pay accordingly. I have any bull that is proven in the ring and pasture collected as soon as possible now. My thought is "if he's in the tank, nothing will happen to him". Knock on wood, my "insurance plan" has worked for almost a decade!
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Ebenezer » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:08 am

Yes, I realize full sibs would have the same mother vs flush having recips. Some recips better than others etc. Im also talking about the same contemporory group. Not different herds.


Still missing the point. Each full sib inherits a unique mix of genes from both parents. Recips can affect early things like BW, WW and such but to think that two full sibs are alike is not going to happen. The inheritance is not that highly linked, there are more genes involved than we can overcome, ... Low accuracy of any EPD in any unproven animal tells you that there is a wide range of potential in any offspring.

The best bull for $10,000 is a proven bull. Any unused son of XXX Great and such is just a bull with mathematical potential until his calves are proven, genomics or no genomics. They are not testing 100% of the genes and the baseline is not the full width of the breed that they use to enhance mathematical averages of the two parents. If this sounds old foggie; the top bulls of the Angus breed have 1000's of sons, yet folks will pay from $2500 to $250,000 for a son year in and year out. If the inheritance was even-stevens then every son would be worth something more average in $'s as there would be little difference in them. It has been this way for decades and folks do not look at the big picture. I think folks just like to spend money or hope that spending money makes money. That is why the average registered Angus breeder has a 7 year run; my opinion.

Sure bet: a linebred bull with the ancestor or ancestors of your focus being known sound cattle. The bull will stamp calves with traits desired and not for the first generational awe factor but for many generations to come.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby pdfangus » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:20 am

Well I just got a bull stud catalog in the mail this week...

I flipped thru it and there were sure a lot of ugly bulls in it....but they had great numbers....

i found a couple of beautiful bulls with more moderate numbers that rang my bell....

it is difficult to improve your herd if you are not using a bull that is superior to your herd...

But I have enough semen in the tank to breed my herd for the next five years....
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Lazy M » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:28 am

Amo wrote:
Son of Butch wrote:Come on Amo... Have you ever spent $10,000 on a bull or just bragging?


Lol, neither...sarcasim! I know quite a few that do though. The herd I was talking about come close to spending that. Back in say 2015 when everything was high this guy did spend that much on several bulls. Course they sell 20-40 head of heifers out of a 4-500 hd cow heard. So if he keeps 30 or so, he's being pretty picky on what he turns into a cow.

The most I've ever spent was 5200 on a bull. He broke his deal in the middle of his 2nd breeding season..never again.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:36 am

As mentioned above you can insure against Frost bite, broken legs, or simply not passing his BSE next year.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:33 pm

Flush mates may or may not look alike. Just because they have the same dam & sire does not mean they are equal.
To me, I start out with something that has the phenotype I like to look at, then look at the sire & dam. Do they have the same? The more generations of an animal looking like what you want, the more consistency you will get in his offspring.
Numbers are a tool. They come second to structure then looks.
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Boot Jack Bulls » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:36 pm

Aside from liquidating the herd you have and buying a whole new one, I think upgrading the quality of bull used is the quickest way to improve a herd. Probably the most cost effective in the long run too! :2cents:
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Re: Heritability of phenotype.

Postby Amo » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:06 pm

I agree with structure correctness, bags, etc. Guess I was more of less asking about thickness, muscle, etc.

I've usually shopped for numbers. The numbers have been created by hopefully by accurate data being turned in. If your actually increasing your weaning weight, your epd will go up. Ranchers sell by the pound, not the show ring. Which show cattle are pretty, and good looking calves sell well. Fleshy calves, in my area get docked. Guess feed does wonders. When you go shopping by looks, I have to sit there and wonder is this true muscle or bucket muscle? Course numbers are only as good as the accuracy that is reported.

Getting back to the original question of my post, and throwing out the whole full/flush/clone deal....on a different page and also visiting with someone from UNL most of these phenotypical traits 30% heritable or less, like 15%. I guess if you never try you never get anywhere. Yet it appears to me you can blow a lot of money chasing something that has small odds of recouping.
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