Brangus provides new selection tools to commercial cattlemen
SAN ANTONIO, Texas– The International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) continues to stay on the cutting edge of the latest technology by providing tools for commercial cattlemen to assist in comparing the expected performance of Brangus sired offspring to that of other breeds. These most advanced tools are Calving Ease EPDs, including Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Maternal, which take into consideration the weight and shape of the calf, gestation length and breed of the sire.
“In the past we have only had birth weight EPDs which is extremely important when comparing two or more bulls’ calves within a herd or across herds from the stand point of expected birth weight,” said Joseph Massey, Ph.D., IBBA’s Executive Vice President. “But since birth weight is positively correlated with growth, there has been a tendency for producers to believe that bulls with growth potential will also produce heavier calves, therefore increasing calving difficulty.”
Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Maternal clearly help to identify sires that produce calves with growth potential and expected calving ease. While the Brangus breed has always been known as an easy calving breed, the Brangus breed has also become a performance-oriented breed, which has caused some producers to believe that Brangus calves would have calving difficulties like other breeds that have experienced this effect.
Massey said the Calving Ease EPDs will be very beneficial in identifying Brangus sires with both growth EPDs and highly desirable calving ease. This will be even more useful to commercial producers that have already discovered Brangus sired calves have excellent growth with little to no calving difficulties.
Calving Ease Direct is a measure of the ease of which a bull’s calves will be born since it is taking into account more than weight, like shape of the calves, and it is well established that Brangus calves have a tendency to be longer and narrower at birth than the British or Continental breeds. While Calving Ease Maternal is equally valuable, it may not be used as much at the commercial level since many, if not most, calves are terminal and most females never have a chance to produce offspring. However, it will have an important role when commercial females are retained for replacement.
As a commercial producer, understanding Calving Ease EPDs and knowing when and how to use them will pay great dividends, especially when selecting easy calving bulls with high performance EPDs. While Calving Ease EPDs have been available within other breeds, it has not been until the multi-breed models have become available that calving ease could