In the second blog in our EPD series, we want to get more breed-specific because of the upcoming Montana Hereford Tour and Angus Tours. This week we are going to talk about Herefords. Herefords are known for numerous traits, but in order to do this right, we decided to bring in one of our clients, Hepworth Cattle in Auburn, Wyoming. Tyson Hepworth gives us his thoughts on a few questions I had for him, and we are grateful for him taking the time to explain his thoughts on Hereford traits.
Question 1: What do you feel Hereford cattlemen typically search for when analyzing EPD’s?
So, we raise Hereford cattle and that has transitioned from Angus cattle. In that transition, we have seen that ranchers, despite the breed they are analyzing, tend to fall into a couple different categories.
They don’t look at any EPD’s, they don’t fully understand them, and that might make them worry about actual measures, so they tend to stay away from them.
They look at performance group EPD’s like BW, WW, YW, and Milk typically. I think a fair amount of ranchers fall into this category.
There are a few producers that take that to the extreme, where they pay so much attention to the numbers, they don’t analyze the animal standing in front of them.
In my opinion, there are major issues with that third method of selection.
Question 2: What EPDs do you feel Herefords excel in?
I think Hereford cattle excel in a good variety of traits depending on how they are being used, which makes them a very adaptive breed. As a breed, they tend to compliment many other breeds to enhance their value. As far as specific EPD traits, I feel Hereford cattle can have moderate birth weights but have enough power in their weaning and yearling weights to perform in the feedlots. It is important to me that they are not extreme in any of those traits. Because of that, the Hereford breed is known for maternal traits while some other breeds have often overlooked those traits in order to focus on terminal traits. This allows you to cross them with a lot of these types of cattle to get a very maternal type female. Hereford cattle also tend to have a good tender carcass as an end product but are improving in marbling and ribeye area.
Question 3: What does your operation tend to focus on and why?
Hepworth Cattle tends to focus on cattle that are well balanced in their EPD profile. We feel there is a very nice middle of the road approach to raising and selecting cattle. We are focused on raising low maintenance, easy going, maternal type cattle. As we select cattle to use, we want those calves to be moderate in birth weight. Problems arise from calving too big of calves just as much as calves that are too small. We also want to see a nice balance between weaning to yearling weight. Milk is one that really needs to be watched. Cattle that milk heavy for sure mean big bulky calves, but it’s usually at the expense of not breeding back the next year. We have to give that calf an adequate chance to grow, and it depends a lot on your nutrient supply and feed quality to understand what your cattle can and cannot handle. I think that the udder and teat scores that Herefords provide are going to be a great tool later on, but for now, I would rather see actual teats and udders to make sure we are going in the right direction.
Mature Weight is another EPD we keep a close eye on, and it can be deceptive. With this trait, I believe it needs to match the animal in its type and kind. We are looking for cattle that are moderate in frame and bold in muscle and rib shape, the type that command you to take a second look just to make sure you notice how feminine yet massive they are, and not the ones that have a tall and lanky body type.
In the carcass and terminal EPD’s, we’d like to see a good positive number on all the traits, but one in particular is Back Fat. In a maternal minded herd, back fat has a pretty important place, and I think it is often overlooked. If a female cannot store fat on her back, her ability to function as a low maintenance female is over. In order to be moderately framed, big ribbed, heavy muscled, and easy going low maintenance, they need to be able to keep fat on their backs.
Question 4: Where do you think the Hereford EPDs could improve?
One thing I have always told people that we have also seen in the Angus breed as well, is that Herefords just need a bigger base to pool the EPD results. As Hereford cattle are used more for their abilities, the EPD profiles become more stable.
Question 5: What kind of traits can we expect to see from your operation at your upcoming sale?
The traits that will be seen in our cattle are those balanced, modest type profiles. You are not going to see extreme numbers in any of the cattle that sell. Our cattle will be able to be used in a variety of ways, and I think that is what makes Herefords money making type cattle that work for you, not you work for them.
Thank you so much Tyson Hepworth of Hepworth Cattle, we appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us about Hereford EPDs!
The Hepworth Cattle Sale will be on October 19, 2019 in Auburn, Wyoming
To request a catalog when they come available, click here!