Bovine Engineering and Consulting
Gerald Fry 193 Fry Rd. -  Rose Bud, AR   72137

Breeding   Up   Program   or   Renovation   Project

The procedures of breeding livestock within itself not a complicated management practice. The primary reason for breeding livestock is to turn grass into a nutritious red-meat protein for human consumption and health.  This can be achieved through grass-based genetics.  This process is far more complex than simply putting a male out with females to replicate the same kind or species. Our Creator gave specific genetics in each species of livestock that provides for both their health and ours.  Included in the animal’s makeup are genetics that are detailed and defined to each breed and are individualized taste, tenderness, texture and palatability for human consumption and enjoyment.

We as breeders and managers are to recognize and know each individual animal for its genetic potential and trait possesses, with the most emphasis being in the male. The females possess the ability to respond genetically to the male that she mates with. However, if the male is genetically inferior he will create sons with his own set of inferior traits thus causing a genetic regression to takes place.  It is important for the male to be homogeneous in quality and performance traits.

The daughters are, in most instances, comparable to their mother (through cytoplasmic inheritance). Without this female genetic characteristic the livestock industry in America would be in much worse condition than it is now. The anonymous secret lies within the male’s genetic strength of prepotency and ability to dominate the genetic makeup of the progeny he creates. The male has only one X chromosome and he must dominate with the one over the female genetically. Bloodlines are stabilized and shaped (good or of inferior quality) by the male; therefore the female is the “helpmate.”  Do the math below and find out for yourself if you can concentrate female genetics in bloodlines in a few generations as you do with males. Remember the importance of the male genetics!


On a recent trip to Rock Springs Texas Bob Walker (customer) and I discussed the growing trend for grass fed beef. We discussed the various theories on how to produce high quality red meat for the family, grocery and restaurant trade on grass. Since theories are of no value unless you can see some tangible results, we decided to change Bob’s Gelbvieh and Murray Grey seed stock herds into direct marketing grass-finished herds. With this goal in mind, our starting point had to be with proven bulls of grass based genetics. In June of 2002 we traveled to New Zealand and Australia looking for moderately framed cattle that would be easy keepers and finish graded choice or better on grass by age 16 to 18 months.

During this trip we studied all of the major British and Continental breeds. We chose two breeds noted for their abilities to perform on grass, their marbling qualities, ease of fleshing and quality of meat.  They were the North Devon and Murray Grey.  We were only able to find one Murray Grey named “Thumbs Up” that fit our requirements.  Since Bobs Murray Grey’s was capable of finishing on grass, it was decided to use Thumbs Up on the entire Murray herd until additional bulls could be found.  The real test will be the conversion of the Gelbvieh herd.

We were fortunate to find four Devon bulls from one herd that was genetically and phenotypically very similar with each other. These bulls have been bred pure for 100 years and have been found to be very prepotent and will therefore reproduce a similar type animal which will be homozygous for the traits we desire a high percentage of the time.

The cows that are currently in the herd will be linear measured and ultrasounded for back fat, loin shape, I.M.F., tenderness and percentage of retail product. Only those that pass the minimum standards will be used as foundation cows. The four Devon bulls (688, 663, 667, 752) will be used according to the table Bob developed for purity shown below. The table illustrates the increasing strength of the bull as well as the diminishing influence of the base cows.

Sire   Dam   Calf#   Calf Genetic Makeup

688  Cow A    1    50%-688, 50% cow-a
667  Calf 1     2    50%-667, 25%-688, 25%-co- a
663  Calf 2     3    50%-663, 25%-667, 12.5%-668, 12.5%-cow-a
752  Calf 3     4    50%-752, 25%-663, 12.5%-667. 6.25%-688, 6.5%-cow-a
688  Calf 4     5    53.125%-688, 25%-752, 12.5%-663, 6.25%-667, 3.125%-cow-a
667  Calf 5     6    53.125%-667, 26.5625%-688, 12.5%-752, 6.25%-663, 1.5625%-cow-a
663  Calf 6     7    53.125%-663, 26.5625%-667, 13.28125%-688, 6.25%-752, .78125%-cow-a
752  Calf 7     8    53.125%-752, 26.5625%-663, 13.125%-667, 6.640625%-688, .390625%-cow-a
The numbers can go on to total purity as all breeds have in the past.
14 generations is considered pure, however .0061035 % still remains of cow A.
30 generations are required for complete removal of cow A.

The table is for illustrative purposes only to show the relative strength of the bulls compared to the base cow regardless of the breed. Due to the phenotype and genotype similarity of the bulls, it is hoped that the calves will be very uniform in performance, conformation and be homozygous for tenderness, marbling, and texture of meat with a high retail product. The heifers will be mated to bulls that improve and correct any weakness such as underdeveloped heart girth, shallow chest, narrow shoulders, too narrow a rump, insufficiency of maternal expression, femininity, incorrect feet and legs at 12 months of age,

To insure that the herd progresses the following criteria will be used. All females kept for seedstock will have to be cycling by 10 months of age, preferably earlier.  They must have a calf by 2 years of age breed back on time.  Her calves will have to fit into the linear measuring standards and be favorable to ultrasound for tenderness, grade to choice or better, have loin to carcass ratio of 1.4 with proper loin shape and a minimum retail product score of 4.3. The best will be kept and the rest sold as grass fed beef or sold as commercial cows. Only exceptional bulls will be considered for sale as herd bulls, all others will be steered and sold as grass fed beef if they meet the marbling and tenderness requirements for quality.

While this plan is not perfect or fool proof we believe that it will produce the cattle we desire in the shortest possible time. Finding 4 bulls on one farm with the same genotype and phenotype is within itself a very rare nugget and the cows were compatible with the bulls (lots of genetic strength). Carefully mating each bull to the other bull’s offspring for desired characteristics will improve the herd with each succeeding mating while at the same time creating a heritage and future for our children and grandchildren.

The goal is to produce cattle of proper color (red to dun, no black) and phenotype that will thrive in Arkansas’s heat and humidity with its relativity poor forages of fescue & bermuda grass.  They should produce a healthy restaurant quality beef without sacrificing acceptable growth rates or utilization of forages. With Bob’s cattle and my knowledge of linear measuring, ultrasound, genetics and the cattle industry as a whole, we can hit our target—only time will tell! With the first calves are due this fall stay tuned for



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