As technology integrates its way into the cattle industry we are able to make faster changes in our management of livestock. A question that has been asked is are we putting too much emphasis on what we are learning from technology? As a breeder we need technology. However I do feel that if technology is not used correctly it could create more problems then resolve. I by no means am against technology, however it takes time to generate a reliable data base for new programs. We have spent years using performance ratios to help improve our in herd data and EPD’s. This method has time and time again proven to be one of the most reliable ways to improve ones own herd. Or identify the elite of the herd.
I do still use EPD’s in our new herd sire selection. However I feel that technology is pushing these numbers faster than the actual animal is performing. There are many things that are creating this problem. Fast turn over on young unproven herd sires, falsified data entry, and manipulating contemporary groups. All in an effort to create the “ Right Numbers” for marketing. Because of this, I am reluctant to put much emphasis on today's EPD’s.
In our program, we do our best to pay attention to the THINGS THAT MATTER. Functionality, consistency, reliability, and performance. In order to achieve this we run our cattle in the same conditions as our customers. When running our cattle in this type of harsh environment we have learned that many of today's EPD’s are unapplicable. Instead we use actual in the field data such as birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight and the ratios generated from these key numbers.
One area we felt was important to implement into our program is testing for high altitude disease. After visiting with Dr Tim Holt we felt we would be able to achieve a better more accurate data base of PAP by testing our females. He recommended that the animal should be around 18 months of age when tested. As well as the animal needs to be at an altitude of no less than 6500 ft for the test to give a solid accurate reading. Although we were only able to test a limited number of our females this year all of our herd sires have been tested. We feel that over time we will be able to start to identify key bloodline to use in lessening one's risk in High altitude disease.
Hopefully this letter sheds some light on our thoughts and insight to our program. We look forward seeing those of you who will be attending our annual bull sale.
David Van Dyke
Wheeler Mountain Ranch