We strive to produce moderate birth weight calves that hit the ground running. But for us, calving ease constitutes much more than an EPD score.
Nature and nurture play integral roles in those first hours and days of setting up a calf's future overall performance. While there isn't an EPD for newborn vigor, we monitor and record every labor and delivery we witness. And we are taking note -- from the time it takes a calf to stand and suck to the mother's response time to lick and nurture her newborn, as well as her patience and ease with the calf while it attempts to find that first teat. The dam's teat and udder structure, nurturing ability and calf vigor are three selection principles in "calving ease" that we utilize in herd retention.
The dams -- from our heifers to our long-term matriarchs -- remain in our herd only if they demonstrate zero-maintenance deliveries and excellent mothering instincts from the moment that calf arrives. From pelvic size to laboring vigor and recovery to bonding with baby, we want to increase our odds, as well as those of our customers, to enjoy a full night's sleep from calving season to sale day.
When it comes to the CED score, nearly half of our calf crop each year earns a calving ease direct score of +6 or higher in their evaluation performance data. We strive for birth weights in the 70s for our bred heifer deliveries and a mid-70 to 90-pound range with our cow deliveries. So many sires are not only capable but excel at generating great spreads from birth to weaning. When we utilize a sire that has good calving ease and moderate birth weight scores, we also weigh the weaning and yearling performance of that sire's progeny to determine whether he is worthy of the program. Performance matters most; birth weight is merely one balancing factor we utilize during sire selection decisions.
We also believe "calving ease" is synonymous with the dam and calf's tolerance and comfort with us while we observe the cow during delivery and afterward when we handle that calf for tagging and a weigh-in. This comprehensive calving ease philosophy goes hand in hand with the selection principle of docility we demand in our herd.
We prioritize docility in our cattle not only for ease of handling and safety but because this personality trait also increases desired maternal character, herd profitability and pound potential and carcass quality in a feedlot scenario.
Many studies have proven that docile cattle in feedlot environments gain more pounds and produce better carcass values than cattle who are stressed by close quarters and human contact.
Docility has always been a highly desired trait for us and is mattering more and more to our customers. Because our kids and we work up close and personal every day with our herd, we want the ease and safety of handling gentle, quiet cattle. When you view our photos, you will see that our cattle are comfortable with yet respectful of human interaction whether they are in their summer pasture, winter corrals or calving area. Our reference sires in our artificial insemination and embryo program must have a docility EPD that is nationally competitive to be considered by us.
We demand the same docility with our natural service sires. We select internal genetics with generations of docile Glasoe pedigrees, as well as an intimate knowledge of that bull's personality and behavior toward us, the changing environment and handling he experiences from birth to maturity.
Our cows, regardless of a paper score, must be tolerant of us when they deliver newborn calves. We believe the behavior and responses they exhibit toward us are models from which their calves witness and learn. By spending time with our herd each day and walking among our cattle and striving to make working them as positive of an experience as possible, our cow/calf pairs are familiar, comfortable and respectful of human interaction. Ultimately, tolerant and gentle cows are just a joy to work with. There is nothing better than when a cow walks up and stands nearby so we can give her a well-deserved scratch and rub on her hip. When a cow allows her calf to approach, sniff and let us caress her baby, life is pretty good.
Docility improves our working relationship with the dam and her profitability.
Ultimately, we want to raise an animal that increases profitability in our herd and yours.
When our customers buy a bull from us, they trust that the calves he sires will perform on the scale come fall. That is a weighty responsibility we don't take lightly.
It's critical to know how our calves will perform from birth to weaning in an honest environment. When we moved back to the ranch, we made a promise that our calves would subsist purely on pasture grass and their mother's milk until their 205-day weights. This commitment also meant our dams wouldn't receive any protein supplement or extra feed in their summer pastures. While the weather, water supply and pasture conditions change every year, we are seeing the benefits of this philosophy. We are determining which progeny and cow families thrive amongst typical conditions here and determine our dam retention accordingly. For example, in 2017 we experienced severe drought while our cows produced the heaviest 205-day weight averages in our herd history. More than 15 percent of our bulls weighed 800 pounds or more, and 70 percent were 700 pounds or higher. In 2019 with better pasture conditions and fall rains, nearly 25 percent of our bulls weighted more than 800 pounds at 205 days (the breed average was 655 pounds in 2019). Every year we register every male calf we raise and submit performance to the American Angus Association for every individual; in 2019 our entire set averaged 81 pounds at birth and 749 pounds at 205 days. Our 2021 bulls averaged 79 pounds at birth and 761 pounds at 205 days.
We understand the weight and sheer influence our sires carry with each calf crop. We continue to select AI and natural sires with proven pedigrees to back the weaning production, carcass value and maternal traits they pass on to progeny.
Ultimately, our cows matter most. Each dam's EPD score tells only part of the story. Every year we have culled a quarter of our cow herd and replenished it with Glasoe born and bred heifers so we can continually track not only individual production performance but also the maternal performance of dam family pedigrees. We want cows that breed back each year within a 365-day window while consistently weaning easy-fleshing and eye-catching calves. We monitor each dam's udder and hoof integrity, as well as the mothering they provide each calf (well-licked and well-attended calves just do better). And we track their daughters' structural longevity and reproductive performance. We have Pathfinder dams contributing alongside their great, great granddaughters in our herd today.