IBBA Partners with La Quinta

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Relax and Rest Up

La Quinta Inns & Suites is pleased to be partnered with the International Brangus Breeders Association – offering a 10% discount from our best available rates nationwide.  This discount may be used for business or leisure travel. Here are ways to access the discount:

  • Go online to LQ.com and enter the code “BRANGUS
  • Call the toll-free central reservations number at 1-866-468-3946 and request the “International Brangus Breeders Association” discount, or
  • Call the hotel’s direct number and request the “International Brangus Breeders Association” discount

La Quinta Inns & Suites offers what any guest needs to wake up on the bright side. Enjoy our free Bright Side Breakfast®, free high-speed internet, and comfy beds. Plus, our hotels are conveniently located close to area restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues. Be sure to sign up for La Quinta Returns, and start earning points toward upgrades and free nights fast! Enrolling is fast, easy and free. Go to LQ.com or call 1-800-RETURNS (738-8767) for information.

Kodi the Cowdog- “One in Every Crowd”

Kodi the Cowdog stories are a monthly series based on a book titled, “Letters from Kodi, The Little Cowdog With The Wiggly Butt”. The book is written by Brangus producer and IBBA member Phyllis Clem, through the eyes of Kodi, a miniature Australian Shepherd.

Hi Y’all,

Looks like we have made it to another May. This is one of my favorite months because my birthday is on the 20th. Now I don’t need anything, but if you are wondering, I could always use more chewies, those little cigar shaped ones in particular.

Knowing my lifestyle, I am sure you are not surprised that we have been on the road quite a bit lately. Most of these were overnighters; we will wait until summer to take any long trips, and then those will be to the mountains to get away from the Texas heat. One recent trip was to the Chochtaw Resort in Oklahoma to a music concert. Two of my folks’ favorite entertainers, namely Michael Martin Murphey and Red Stegall, performed. Of course, I didn’t see the actual concert, but I have learned that a comfy hotel bed and some TV watching can make for a pretty good evening especially when one of my favorites is on, that being “Swamp People”. Anyway, my folks had a grand time, and the next morning we got to visit with the entertainers at breakfast since they were staying at the same hotel as us.

There was one downside to this outing and that was in the form of a LOUD train whistle. Mama and I were out walking before they left for the concert, and we didn’t notice the train tracks across the highway. All of a sudden that thing came barreling down the tracks blowing its whistle, and I nearly jumped out of my fur. Mama gave me a hug and let me know it wasn’t going to run us over, but I sure didn’t like that noise. For some reason loud sounds tend to bother me some. I wonder why that is. Now don’t get the idea I was scared because that was not the case at all. I mean, I am head of security around here, but wouldn’t you be a little startled if a train blowing a loud whistle came out of nowhere?

Another outing was to Salado to the Texas Brangus Breeders Association (TBBA) convention and sale. This was my second time to go to TenRoc Ranch where the events were held, and believe you me I remembered to stay out of the cactus when I was out getting some run time in with Mama. There were lots of people there, and my folks enjoyed getting to visit with friends from all over the state, and any friend of my folks is a friend of mine as well. You might say I took some walks on the ‘wild side’ since I saw so many different kinds of wildlife. Besides being a ranch and event center, this place is also a wildlife sanctuary sort of, and I ran across deer, elk, wild turkeys, black bucks, and a zebra just to name a few. That thing made me wonder, is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Hmmmmm. A good question to think about.

You may remember my mentioning that a while back that Mr. P was not feeling so good. His back legs were kind of weak, and he couldn’t jump up on things. Well, he has rebounded to his old self again. The other afternoon my folks were in the yard checking to see if the recent cold snap had hurt the young, tender leaves on the trees when they exclaimed, “Would you look at that?” And when I looked, there was my best bud way up in top of a tree. Now it takes quite a bit of energy and strength to hoist that much ‘fluffiness’ up that high. I ran over there, and he looked down and said, “What? Haven’t you ever seen a cat in a tree before?”

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Interpretation and Use of Calving Ease EPDs

by Andy D. Herring
Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University

Calving ease (the opposite of calving difficulty or dystocia) is dependent upon several factors. The most obvious factor affecting calving ease is calf birth weight. But, a small heifer can calve without difficulty just as a very large heifer can experience calving difficulty as not only the calf size (as measured through birth weight), but the ratio of the calf size to the size of the pelvic opening is the most critical factor. Calves of the same birth weight may not be shaped the same; broadness of shoulders, degree of muscle expression, length of the calf, etc. may be very different across calves even when birth weight is similar. Calf size, particularly for first-calf heifers, explains most calving problems.

Research conducted over the years has provided much useful information to understand calving difficulty. In the 1970s at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center, the Germplasm Evaluation (GPE) project was initiated to evaluate cattle breeds and sires bred to British females. Dystocia incidence across all sire breeds was reported to be 38.5 percent in two-year-old first-calf heifers, 13.3 percent in three-year-olds, and 7.4 percent in four- and five-year-old cows. Nix et al. (1998) studied 2,191 calving records from the Clemson University Beef Physiology Unit herd (1981-1993) and were analyzed to determine factors affecting malpresentation, mortality and dystocia. Only 20 (0.91 percent) of these calvings involved improper presentation of the calf. Among the 20 malpresentations, 14 were posterior, three were leg deviations, two were head deviations, and one was a breech birth. Overall, 94 percent of the births required no assistance; of the six percent of births that did require assistance, the vast majority was due to calf size. Calf size and female parity explained most of the dystocia.

Over the years, as breed associations recommended their members to collect birth weight records and eventually calculated birth weight EPDs, this provided breeders with tools to aid in reduction of dystocia. Dystocia is an added stress that increases postpartum anestrous, and this can be particularly harmful in first-calf heifers as they take longer to begin cycling after calving than older females even if no dystocia is experienced. Although birth weight EPD is useful in reducing incidences of dystocia, more precise measures of calving ease provide additional tools to breeders.

The Calving Ease Direct (CED) EPD is expressed as a difference in percentage of unassisted births in the birth of progeny from that animal (as when bulls are bred to first-calf heifers), with higher values indicating greater calving ease. Comparison of the CED EPDs between two animals predicts the average difference in calving ease percentage by which the two progeny groups will differ when they are being born. The Calving Ease Maternal (CEM) EPD is expressed as a difference in percentage of unassisted births from daughters of the animal in question, again with a higher value indicating greater calving ease. If two bulls are being compared for CEM EPDs and are bred to heifers, the CEM EPDs will represent differences in expected calving ease percentage among the two sires’ groups of first-calf daughters. It predicts the average ease with which daughters will calve as first-calf heifers when compared to daughters of other animals in the breed.

The table below provides some EPD values on calving ease direct, birth weight and calving ease maternal from the IBBA fall 2012 genetic evaluation. Among active sires, the range in CED EPD goes from -14.2 on the low end to 13.0 at the top, a difference of 27.2 percent calving ease between these extremes with an average CED EPD of +5.2. These values were taken directly from the fall 2012 evaluation on the IBBA web site (except for the fictitious bull OMG ANONYMOUS 4321). The range in CEM EPDs is from -4.0 to 12.4 with an average of +7.2. The range and average for birth weight EPD is also shown.


EPD comparison on four bulls in the Brangus Fall 2012 Multibreed cattle evaluation


Calving Ease




Calving Ease














NMSU 94004




Average *












*Among active sires

The interpretation of calving ease EPDs is similar in concept to other trait EPDs, but the units are different. If the four bulls in the table were bred to a genetically similar set of heifers that were managed the same way in the same location, it is expected that calves of MC 661 JOHN WAYNE 535S9 would have 20.9 percent more calving ease (difference between 11.9 and -9.0) than calves sired by OMG ANONYMOUS 4321, calves sired by BRINKS BIG EASY 589F29 would have 19 percent more calving ease than calves sired by OMG ANONYMOUS 4321 (difference between 10.0 and -9.0), and calves sired by NMSU 94004 would have 16.1 percent more calving ease than calves sired by OMG ANONYMOUS 4321 (difference between 7.1 and -9.0). It can be seen that in general birth weight EPDs are related to CED EPDs, but this relationship is not exact. Among these bulls, although MC 661 JOHN WAYNE 535S9 is expected to sire calves with slightly more calving ease than BRINKS BIG EASY 589F29, BRINKS BIG EASY 589F29 is expected to sire calves slightly lighter in birth weight than MC 661 JOHN WAYNE 535S9.

The daughters of these four bulls (when all are bred to the genetically similar bulls and managed the same) would also be expected to express some differences in calving ease when they, in turn, are dams. Daughters of MC 661 JOHN WAYNE 535S9 would be expected to have calves with 10.2 percent more calving ease than daughters of OMG ANONYMOUS 4321 (8.2 minus -2.0); daughters of BRINKS BIG EASY 589F29 would have 7.5 percent more calving ease than daughters of OMG ANONYMOUS 4321 (5.5 minus -2.0), and daughters of NMSU 94004 would have 10.8 percent more calving ease than daughters of OMG ANONYMOUS 4321 (8.8 minus -2.0).

Use of calving ease EPDs can offer additional tools for Brangus breeders rather than only using birth weight EPD for control of dystocia, particularly in first-calf heifers. Incorporation of Calving Ease Direct EPD into breeding decisions is expected to give increased potential to reduce dystocia over birth weight EPD alone. No matter what location or expected market for calves produced, cattle breeders should always utilize balanced selection that considers reproduction and well as growth and size traits. Any trait or selection tool that provides increased potential for female fertility and calf survival should be economically advantageous.

This article was originally published in the 2012 November/December issue of the Brangus Journal.

DNA Information Empowers Informed Selection and Breeding Decisions

Source: Pfizer Animal Genetics

Technology helps producers speed up genetic progress.

Steve Densmore, manager at Circle X Land and Cattle Co., is a strong believer in DNA testing.

Steve Densmore, manager at Circle X Land and Cattle Co., is a strong believer in DNA testing.

Selection and breeding decisions can affect the performance and profitability of a cow/calf operation for years to come. This is why Steve Densmore, who raises purebred Brangus cattle at Circle X Land and Cattle Co. in Bryan, Texas, uses genetic technology to help him make better decisions that also benefit his customers.

“We try to produce what commercial producers want,” Densmore says. “The genetic technologies we’ve acquired have allowed us to eliminate cattle that do not produce desirable traits and help us identify cattle that have traits that will continue to move our herd forward.”

Kent Andersen, Ph.D., associate director, Technical Services, Pfizer Animal Genetics, says the biggest advantage of DNA technology is the ability to make more-informed buying and breeding decisions.

“DNA technology is especially valuable when evaluating young, unproven seedstock,” Dr. Andersen says. “This information allows producers to make purchase decisions with greater assurance for important traits.”


To help accomplish their goals, producers are utilizing GENESTAR® Molecular Value Predictions (MVP®s). GENESTAR, a targeted-marker DNA test, provides producers with genomic information about key production traits in all breeds of beef cattle. Test results include MVPs for feed efficiency, marbling and tenderness. The reports also include percentile ranks, which are determined by benchmarking each animal against hundreds of its breed contemporaries in the Pfizer Animal Genetics database.

Commercial Brangus breeder J. Mack Bohn of Diamond JK Ranches believes DNA testing helps him improve his genetics and operation.

Commercial Brangus breeder J. Mack Bohn of Diamond JK Ranches believes DNA testing helps him improve his genetics and operation.

This information also is beneficial for commercial Brangus breeder J. Mack Bohn of Diamond JK Ranches in Cyril and Marlow, Okla., and Roark Ranches in Marlow, Amber and Cheyenne, Okla.

“Incorporating genetic technologies has not only allowed us to continue to create a great Brangus female, but it’s moved our steer program several notches above where it used to be,” Bohn says. “I’m able to look at a bull and know so much about him before I ever even consider putting him on a set of females, rather than finding out three or four years later if I made the right choice.”

GENESTAR MVPs are derived using a targeted marker panel for feed efficiency, marbling and tenderness.  GENESTAR features a Palatability Index, which combines information about tenderness (shear force) and marbling, and ranks animals according to described genomic merit for traits that impact tenderness, juiciness and flavor. What’s more, producers can use GENESTAR to identify animals that are homozygous or heterozygous for black or wild-type coat color.

This information empowers producers to select animals that will advance their herd and the goals of their breeding programs, Dr. Andersen says. They can use this information to:

  • Select breeding stock that are more likely to transmit desired genetic merit for palatability traits, feed efficiency and coat color
  • Identify animals with desired genetics for consumer satisfaction
  • Make more-informed mating decisions
  • Advance genetic progress

Bohn says DNA information helps make proactive changes rather than having to fix problems later.“DNA results tell us so much, and it doesn’t take years to gather this information — it’s there almost immediately,” Bohn says. “We’ve eliminated some herd sires that looked like great candidates visually and on paper but didn’t meet our standards based on the DNA information. This saves us from investing time and money and incorporating them into our program. And now that we’ve started incorporating GENESTAR into our females, it gives me a lot of confidence that I’m building a superior product.”

Dr. Andersen says that given today’s high input costs, it’s valuable for producers to take advantage of selection information derived from genomic technology.

“Genomic information can help take some of the guesswork out of seedstock selection and breeding decisions,” Dr. Andersen says. “Producers should talk with their seedstock suppliers about providing this information on sale cattle to help ensure they can make the most informed purchase decisions for their operations.”


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