Next up in our EPD Blog series is Simmental cattle. We asked Hofmann Simmental Farms for their perspective on EPDs, what they look for, and for some more information on their operation. Our goal is to begin a discussion because we know that there is SO much information out there on EPDs and a lot of people can get lost. With this blog series we aim to bring different perspectives and spark conversation, let us know your thoughts!
From Hofmann Simmental Farms:
1. What do you feel Simmental cattlemen typically search for when analyzing EPD’s?
In our area, many of our customers select largely for calving ease, and many others select for growth traits. We feel like our long term/repeat customers do a great job of selecting for the optimums in the traits they need to change in order to accomplish their goals. While some cattlemen still only use an animal’s individual performance data and phenotype instead of EPDs, we see that most folks are eager to use all the tools available to them in order to make the best selection decisions possible.
2. What EPDs do you feel Simmental excel in?
As far as the traits that EPDs measure, we would say that the Simmental breed is docile, highly maternal – (calving, milk and weaning) with acceptable carcass traits and good growth.
As for the EPDs that the Simmental Association publishes that are the most helpful, we would say that the API (All Purpose Index) and TI (Terminal Index) have been great. In an oversimplified nutshell, API is the one number to use if you are selecting cattle to raise replacements, TI is the one number to use if you are selecting cattle only for terminal purposes. While they aren’t EPDs, the most recent additions of within breed EPD percentile rankings and percent change (which is just another way to look at accuracy) to the online search engine are also excellent tools. That information has always been available, but now it’s very easy to find and use.
3. What does your operation tend to focus on and why?
We have always focused on the maternal side of things because if you don’t have a productive, efficient cow, everything else is irrelevant. We have also selected for calving ease and moderate frame because many older cattlemen still remember the days of “elephant cattle” so it’s a false, preconceived notion that we still must overcome to some extent. We certainly don’t want to go back to the days of big and dumb cattle either. Since we use AI and ET exclusively, we select proven sires with high accuracy – or at least sires that come from high accuracy pedigrees. Because the Simmental breed has adequate milk built in, we don’t select heavily for or against it. We pay attention to carcass traits, but we feel that placing too much emphasis on carcass merit can be dangerous. Which can be said for single trait selection of any kind. Docility is a big deal to us as well. We AI in pastures with some primitive catch pens, so we must be able to handle our cattle without stress and drama. And our customers appreciate calm cattle too. Although we raise both blacks and reds, demand for the red cattle keeps growing here and we are more than happy to fill that niche.
4. Where do you think the Simmental EPDs could improve?
We feel the Simmental Assn. has the most relevant and meaningful EPDs covered. The incorporation of the multi-breed genetic evaluation, powered by BOLT, into our EPD system was a bit of a challenge from a marketing standpoint at first. At the same time, it’s great that we have the largest database in the world behind it. Knowledge is power. We feel it’s not unlike what the industry went through with the original implementation of EBV’s. No one likes to try to market cattle with less than desirable EPDs, but it all comes down to the fact that EPDs should be a selection tool instead of a marketing tool. The use of genomics will only continue to increase so it will be exciting to see where that takes us in the future.
5. What kind of traits can we expect to see from your operation at your upcoming sale?
Sound, calm, functional females that are expected to live and excel in a true beef production environment. We have a large offering of open heifers this year and while we’re confident there won’t be any Denver grand champions in the pens, we do feel that many young people could find a great start for a cow herd project here. Our fall pairs have been well received because there are more and more fall calving herds here and the work is already done.
The most abundant trait you can expect from us and our sale partners is a sincere, enthusiastic welcome to the sale!
Be sure to check back for more information on their upcoming sale, October 14, 2019
Special thanks to Hofmann Simmental for taking the time to answer our questions for our readers!
To visit their website here!