LIMOUSIN TODAY October_LimToday_WEB - Page 41

Management Terminal or Maternal: Which Should I Choose? By Burke Teichert Too many ranches are trying to straddle the fence. Choose one or the other. Looking at profitability, a terminal program usually works best. Just over a year ago, I wrote two columns presenting the pros and cons of terminal and maternal matings. My experiences and ranch visits since then have led me to again address the subject—reviewing some of the more salient points and adding a few others. It is my (stronger than ever) opinion that most of the small ranches in the U.S. should be buying replacement cows, mating them to “high growth, high carcass” bulls and selling the entire calf crop—both steers and heifers—every year. If you sell open and dry cows and replace them with bred cows, you will easily be more profitable than by producing your own replacement heifers. Points to be made for this argument are: • Nearly every cow can produce a marketable calf every year. • The depreciation on the cows (difference between purchase price and salvage price) is an inexpensive substitute for heifer development costs. • For replacements, buy bred cows—not bred heifers. Why not bred heifers? Her toughest two years are still in front of her. In addition to being placed in a new environment, the heifer must be calved and rebred as a 2-year-old. In addition, her calf won’t fit with the others. That defeats some of the advantage of terminal mating. • Cows must be small to moderate in size or you give up one of the key advantages to terminal mating—higher stocking rate with smaller cows mated to high growth bulls. • Bulls should be selected for growth, marbling, yield grade, calving ease direct and calf survivability. Most of the breed associations have good EPDs for all of these traits except perhaps survivability. Well-proven genetic tools can be used to select bulls that will produce calves that can excel LIMOUSIN Today | 39