standards apply to bull calves as well. After weaning, bottom-end
calves are taken off, and Jack moves the remaining group, earmarked
for sale, into a 140-day feed test through yearling. Bulls are then
semen tested, and poor performers or injured bulls are removed. "I
don't want anything in the sale that I don't think can do somebody
some good," said Jack. "Each bull better have something
to contribute and show individual performance or the best thing for
him to do is be a steer."
one to three top bulls each year
for their own use. Primary sources for outside genetics include
Coopers and Miles City. Though Jack likes to retain his top individual
when possible, which calf he keeps is determined by how much of
any particular pedigree is needed to maintain genetic progress.
Bulls are only
used for three seasons in order to prevent the herd from becoming
too tightly bred. "We figure in three years a bull should raise
a son better than himself. We want to turn the generations and keep
the progress moving." says Jack.
Though not his
primary consideration, Jack said EPDs have developed into a very
important tool in helping them to increase milk and performance
while maintaining birthweigh, especially on proven bulls that have
developed some accuracy. "Most commercial cattlemen have
figured out what a great tool EPDs are, so producing bulls with
good EPDs makes our cattle easier to market." he says.
Jack uses semen
marketing as a tool to improve EPD accuracies. "people who
buy semen are going to buy it, regardless, so you might as well
get your market share, and selling semen allows a bull to work in
different environments which helps his EPDs," he says.
For all the genetics Holdens supply to registered breeders, commercial
customers are the cornerstone of their business, accounting for
66% of annual sales. "Without the commercial buyers, it doesn't
make any difference how many high selling bulls are sold, if the
rest are left over, you didn't have a very good sale," Jack