A three-year study on three Northern California ranches says a bull that breeds a lot of cows and sires a lot of calves will produce more value than a bull that doesn't ... period.

This is regardless of genetics for carcass merit, weaning weight or method of marketing.

"Prolificacy was the main driver of total income per sire, irrespective of whether the calves were marketed as feeder or retained ownership," say the researchers.
Bulls in this study sired an average of 20 calves per season, although some bulls averaged 40 calves per season for several seasons. Some sired no calves and never improved. Some began to sire more in successive seasons. Parentage was determined using DNA tests.

Where bulls are concerned, genetic merit is a distant second to reproductively sound and sexually potent.

Typically, every breeding season produced a range of zero to more than 40 calves per bull, yet all the bulls had equal opportunity with a ratio of about 25 cows per bull.

Further, as has been the case in Missouri and Nebraska research more focused on cows, calving earliness made profit. In this study, calving was divided into four, 21-day periods. Calves from the first 21 days of calving returned about 40% of the total feeder calf or retained ownership value to the ranch, and those from the first two periods combined accounted for about 72% of the total income.

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