Guidelines When Purchasing Breeding Sires

Beef breeding is a long term investment and genetic improvement is difficult and slow. There are, however, so called advisors who present quick solutions to this involved scientific process. To be successful in breeding it is essential that all scientifically proven selection aids be used.

There are three basic principles which are essential in the choice of a breeding sire, namely:

  1. The visual appearance of the bull
  2. His own performance
  3. The visual appearance and performance of his siblings, especially his parents.

These three principles can be compared to the legs of a three-legged pot. The pot can only remain upright if all three legs are present. Any system, not based on all three these principles, has little chance of success in generating a profit in the long term.

Furthermore you must set an accurate breeding goal and then choose the correct bull according to your cow herd on the farm, to achieve that goal as soon as possible. Remember that early maturing and medium maturing type of animals round-off easier on the veld than late maturing types. What is your goal: veld or feedlot rounding off?

  1. Visual appearance
    • Choose functional efficient bulls. Such a mature bull should serve 35 cows within two months under veld conditions.
    • This requires the following:
    • Libido (masculinity)
    • Mounting ability (normal conformation)
    • Conception ability (normal and healthy reproduction system and semen production).
  2.  Own Performance and visual appearance
    By choosing bulls with the correct performance and visual appearance and of which the performance and visual appearance of siblings is also correct, progeny can be produced with similar traits for each succeeding generation.

What Is The Performance Goal Of The Progeny Of Such A Possible Herd Sire?

a) Bull Calves

    • 30 – 40 kg birth weight
    • Fast growth until wean (above average wean index – reflects the mother’s milk production)
    • Fast growth on veld or in the feedlot after wean.
    • Medium to early maturing (round-off early)
    • Good carcass, conformation and grading.
    • High slaughter percentage
    • Good meat quality

b) Heifers

    • 30 – 40 kg birth weight
    • Fast growth to wean (good wean index = good milk production)
    • Fast growth on veld after wean (320 – 350 kg at 18 months = good adaptability).
    • Must conceive within 2 months in mating season
    • Must calve easily
    • Must have good mothering ability (enough milk, good udder and rear calf well until wean).
    • Must reconceive before her calf is 4 months old
    • Hereafter she must keep up this performance each year, but then reconceive before her calf is 3 months old.
Remember that the bulls reflect the vision which the farmer has for his herd for the following ±8 years.

By studying a bull’s performance figures the performance of his progeny can to a large extent be predicted, since only heritable traits of economic value are taken into consideration, for example:

  • Birth weight   –  40% heritable
  • Wean mass   –  30% heritable

(Determining milk production ability of daughters)

  • Growth on veld   –  30% heritable
  • Growth in feedlot   –  55% heritable

Insist on records and official performance figures. It is important that these tests are done by a reputable organisation. In South Africa only the National Beef Performance Testing Scheme possess the necessary technology to do involved calculations such as estimated breeding values. Any breeder worth his salt, will have them available at all times. Soon all larger breed societies will be supplied with estimated breeding values for their animals, which will minimize the guesswork in the commercial industry. It is only available from official performance data and where sire and dam are known. Furthermore, this organisation can be objective since its officials are financially uninvolved in the industry itself.

Because time is precious in genetic improvement, a breeder cannot afford to use doubtful bulls with the object of obtaining better bulls later. In the long run it will cost him dearly economically. By the time a breeder realizes that a mistake was made in the choice of bull (that is when his daughters wean their first calves), his progeny already make up a substantial percentage of the herd. After three generations 80% or more of the genetic composition of the herd comes from the bulls.

Such reliable performance selected bulls are readily available. To calculate the value of a good bull within the economic limits of your own herd you can estimate it at the slaughter value of 4 – 5 slaughter cows from your herd.

To produce outstanding breeding stock requires patience and dedication. It will be shortsighted and to your own detriment not to put this small premium on such an animal. Just think for example about the high premium that farmers pay for seed from excellent plant cultivars. No successful farmer will consider anything else. There is a saying: “Cheap bulls cost money and expensive bulls make money”. Buy the right bull to achieve the goal that you have set.

The Mission of the Bonsmara Cattle Breeders’ Society:

In total dependency of our Creator the Bonsmara Cattle Breeders’ Society endeavours to be the leader in the beef cattle industry and to serve producers in South Africa and all parts of the world.

  • acting at all times with credibility and integrity
  • promoting scientific biological economic efficiency
  • promoting practical efficient production methods
  • supplying market orientated superior breeding material to the industry
  • supplying quality affordable beef to all consumers

The Bonsmara Cattle Breeders’ Society hereby endeavours to make a positive contribution to the enhancement of a balanced environment friendly beef cattle industry that will benefit all peoples and will support its members to engage in a viable undertaking.

In total dependency of our Creator the Bonsmara Cattle Breeders’ Society endeavours to be the leader in the beef cattle industry and to serve producers in South Africa and all parts of the world.

Should you not also consider enjoying the advantages that the Bonsmara provides by using Bonsmara bulls with complete records? Remember that advice from trained Senior Bonsmara Selectors is always at your disposal!