Genomics, and in many cases single trait EPD selection, has become all the rage in the cattle business. “Cookie cutter” cattle are just around the corner as we have seen in the swine, chicken, turkey, and to a great extent the dairy industry thanks to the aforementioned trends. We believe the preservation and improvement of Heritage “Native” Shorthorns can play an important role in maintaining genetic diversity in the Shorthorn breed while providing alternatives to those Shorthorn breeders who are not caught up in the hype of “the next great bull”. A recent advertisement promoting a specific bull indicated he is “the best seen in 20 years”. Perhaps the next new bull promoted will be “the best seen in 30 years”. Seedstock producers, by necessity, need to constantly have “the next great bull’ or they have nothing to sell. Rightly or wrongly this charade must continue for them to stay in business.
We have spent the last 10 years assimilating information, improving our cow herd, and inventorying select Shorthorn bull semen all with the goal of changing the paradigm the current Shorthorn herd model is based on--the constantly promoted Show Shorthorn or Show Steer herd. Belief that long term results, rather than hyped short term “payoffs”, should be the goal in Shorthorns we have endeavored to provide both unique and useful Heritage/Native, Modern, and Australian Shorthorn semen.
Bulls in our reference inventory were collected and ultimately selected for specific reasons not just because they might have been available. An old Heritage “Native” Shorthorn is not necessarily a good bull just because he was collected or promoted. Both phenotypical and genotypical characteristics were utilized in our selection process along with available pedigree information. In addition, research and extensive discussions with many long time Shorthorn breeders provided additional insight and allowed us make a final decision on whether to incorporate a particular bull in our inventory. Many bulls were rejected because they did not meet our rigorous standards. It should be added that EPD information on old Shorthorn bulls does not provide any meaningful help in the selection process because the data input was almost non-existent during that period. Any EPD information would be a guesstimate at best.
Our cow herd is the "secret sauce" in Shorthorn Select Semen because they are the dams of all the bulls we offer (except for the Australian bulls). They live in a grass fed real world environment and over the years have been selected to the point that they have the genetics to produce bulls that work in any situation. Because we strive to have Shorthorn genetics that will work for everyone we place an enormous emphasis on temperament. The smaller producer/family is unlikely to have the facilities to deal with “bad attitude” cows.
Over the next few years we will be adding to our sale semen list many different genetic combinations that will allow discriminating buyers to pursue their unique objectives in the Shorthorn business without being tied to the narrow genetic base of both the Show Shorthorn and Show Shorthorn Steer breeders. One of our main goals is to also increase the available genetic diversity to Heritage “Native” Shorthorn breeders so that even small breeders have access to old genetics for their cow herds. For too long most of the genetics in Heritage “Native” Shorthorns have traced to one large Mid-West herd. We have broken out of that paradigm utilizing genetics from several Heritage “Native” Shorthorn herds to build our original base.