What to look for in a Beef Shorthorn bull

A pedigree Beef Shorthorn bull is a serious investment and has a huge impact on your herd’s future profitability. Considered research is imperative.

Here at Stanford Park we breed and sell over 20 bulls a year – some to other pedigree breeders and some to commercial/cross-bred herds – including to a lot of farmers new to the Beef Shorthorn breed. We are happy to use any of our selected young bulls in our own herd and a good percentage of our current stock sires are home bred bulls.

Before we get into the detail of how to select here’s a taster of what to expect:

This 5 week old bull calf, Stanford Park Renegade, is demonstrating all the attributes that would suggest he has the potential to go on to become a young bull we would rear and sell for breeding. His characteristics include great width of back loin, wide hips and rump area and super roan colouring. Out of a GP 83 Classified heifer, whose dam was also EX 92 (X2). We will keep an eye on this young fella. Sired by Meonhill Geronimo, out of Stanfordpark MMF Flossy Fire, with some well respected herds in his pedigree including Meonhill, Chapelton, Glenisla, Grafton and Tarrant.

So what should you be looking for in a Beef Shorthorn bull?

The people purchasing our bulls will normally fall into one of two groups:

Commercial Farmers

Commercial farmers are looking for different things in a bull. What you need will depend on the type of cows you have at home and the market for their own calves. It could be that calves are destined for the meat market or perhaps you take their offspring onto finishing or maybe you sell them as Stores. If you’re looking for herd replacements, you’ll need a bull that carries good female traits like, milk and easy calving.

Pedigree Breeders

Generally, pedigree breeders know exactly what they are looking for – be it colour, size, myostatins, polled or pedigree. Most will have done their homework online beforehand to check out pedigrees and EBVs and so will need to visit to assess whether the bull has the right phenotype for them.

Our Bull Selection Criteria

Whether you’re a commercial farmer or a pedigree breeder, you should probably consider a similar set of parameters as we do here on the farm at Stanford Park. Our own criteria for bull selection is very strict and we have many tools in our management tool box that assist us with the decision. Here are some of the key things we look at:

  1. Temperament:  Only bulls that are quiet and handleable make it to our bull pens.
  2. Classification: Ideally our young bulls will have been bred from a well classified cow line that has at least Very Good (VG) or Excellent (EX) cows, or Good Plus (GP) heifers. This classification is carried out by an independent Classifier from the National Bovine Data Centre (NBDC), where heritable trailts are assessed and scored. Traits such as locomotion, breed character, beef quality, body depth and udder are scored.
  3. EBVs: Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) should offer something important to the customer, such as easy calving, retail beef yield, milk and growth.
  4. Genetics: Pedigree must contain either proven or new/interesting genetics.
  5. Phenotype: We observe the bull from day one to see if it demonstrates the attributes we are looking for in the structure and type of a good breeding bull.
  6. Vet Inspection: At around a year old our vet will check a bull’s heart, locomotion, testicles, teeth and eyes. Occasionally, if requested we will also take a semen sample for inspection.

Arrange a Visit

Our goal here at Stanford Park is to be able to provide a bull to meet most requests from the buyer thus avoiding you having to keep searching far and wide to find the correct animal.

If you’d like to arrange a visit, or simply have questions around how to select the right bull, do get in touch.

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