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Lovesick cows and horny bulls

Thanks to EPD’s we’ve really improved the quality of beef we’re producing. We’ve come a long way from the days when a rancher would just leave every 10th calf a bull to be a herd sire. For gosh sakes, we have EPD’s for the angle of an animal’s hoof yet we still don’t have EPD’s for the traits that matter most to ranchers. Here’s my top 10 EPD’s I’d like to see.

#10 Loadability – How many pounds have we run off and how much personal anguish has been suffered just because every time you struggled to get a cow or calf up the chute the animal blew up, kicked you in the shins and destroyed your loading chute?

#9 Sleepability – Thanks to EPD’s we’ve eliminated many hard calving cows but they still don’t tell us what time a cow will calve. I’d much rather know if a cow is going to calve at 3 a.m. so my wife will be ready than I would the angle some animal’s foot. I’m sure my wife would appreciate it too.



#8 Drinkability – When you’re in the middle of the worst drought in memory and you’re hauling water to your herd every day it makes a big difference if your cows drink 35 gallons a day versus 25 gallons. We’re ripping out lawns, taking showers every other day and flushing our toilets less, shouldn’t we also be identifying those animals with a drinking problem?

#7 Livability – I always hated buying replacement heifers or worse yet, trying to breed my own. That’s why I appreciate cows that live a long time. If animal scientists can come up with an EPD for ribeye area surely they can collect data on how long a cow’s teeth will last. Shouldn’t the animal scientists be trying harder to identify the cattle with better dentition?



#6 Respectability – What good does it do if you breed the best set of yearlings in the country if on shipping day one of them charges you in the alley and breaks your pelvis, leg and both arms? No premium in the world is going to pay your hospital bill. Who cares if your calves grade 90% choice if one of your bulls kills your best dog, impales your horse or puts your significant other in the hospital so you have to do housework?

#5 Vet Visitability – Have you ever noticed that you’re always calling the vet for the same cow? First it’s a caesarean, then a prolapse and finally, to cut out a cancer eye. I’d like to have some idea how much I can expect to pay in vet bills for the offspring of any bull I buy.

#4 Drivability – There’s nothing worse than a bunch-quitting cow, unless it’s more than one. It’s like trying to herd ants, pigs or cats. The really cagey cows will wait for just the right moment to explode through the middle of the herd so you have to start all over again while the trucks wait to ship your calves. It can be very costly because you have to buy faster horses and can lead to a divorce if your wife isn’t the type to stand her ground while plugging a hole in the fence.

# 3 Digestibility – There’s great work being done to determine the efficiency of our animals but it’s usually in a feedlot setting with concentrated feeds. After watching the same old cows pig out on supplement tubs I want to know how much supplement they eat. I used to use blocks but went to tubs when I saw one old glutton with a half a block in her mouth trying to swallow the whole thing.

#2 Perfectability – The best cow I ever owned wouldn’t weigh 950 pounds but she never failed to bring a 650 pounder to the weaning pen. She was gentle as a lamb, babysat the calves while their 1,400 pound mothers went to gorge on water and eat supplement, always stood still in the chute and did all this until she was 13. She was a mongrel crossbred cow that looked like a bag of bones.

#1 Lovability – I want lovesick cows that chase bulls, calve early and never miss, so give me immoral floozey cows and horny bulls. Animal scientists, I’m begging, please give me a Horny EPD. And I’m not talking about those things that stick out of a bovine’s head.


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Lee Pitts

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