When you look at bulls from Flying H Genetics, you will find that we stand out from the competition in more than a few ways. Most importantly, we take pride in the genetic value of our cattle, and we employ rigorous standards in order to ensure we end up with the highest quality bulls. In fact, over the years we have developed 17 Quality Standards that help us breed the best of the best. These standards cover a wide range of genetics including fertility, structural soundness, disposition, udder quality, growth and carcass value. Of course, meeting and exceeding specific health standards is also one of our top priorities.
These standards and others allow our team to offer amazing bulls and cows. No matter what type of cattle you are looking for, you will find something that meets and exceeds expectations when you buy from Flying H Genetics.
The following standards must be met by all bulls:
Calving ease must be primary – nothing else matters if the calf is DOA. We use a 1-5 calving ease score: 1 = no assistance; 2 = easy pull (the calf was pulled by hand and dam would not have required assistance if given more time); 3 = hard pull (at FHG, these calves and their mother are both culled); 4 = Caesarean Section (we have never had a C-Section at FHG due to large birth weight); 5 = abnormal presentation (head back, leg back, etc…). We also watch the genetics, body conformation and bone structure to help eliminate difficult births. We feel so strongly about the importance of calving ease that we guarantee every bull we sell for calving ease.
Birth weight is relative to calving ease and performance. There are MANY different factors that affect birth weight; therefore, a bull’s own birth weight is not an accurate indicator of his calves’ birth weights. However, birth weight is the second most important trait associated with calving ease and, thus, has to be known and selected for. Acceptable birth weights will vary depending on what the rancher is asking the bull to do. Higher growth or performance will increase birth weights because the same genetics that help the calf grow after birth are also at work in the womb. FHG weighs EVERY calf – no guessing – and we will tell you exactly what it is. When you are trying to select the right bull for your program, there is no substitute for honest and accurate records.
Weaning weight without the aid of creep feed. Our minimum standard is 550 pounds adjusted 205 day weight. This is adequate performance for most herds, especially when selecting calving ease bulls for heifers, etc…. Many of our bulls exceed 700 pounds at 205 days with our average weighing around 650 pounds. This is done on grass in a region with an annual average rainfall of less than 20 inches and with an average cow weight of only 1250 lbs.
Weaning/Yearling Hip Height
Weaning/Yearling hip height is used as a tool to help quantify growth and mature size. Experience shows that cattle that score frame four (4) and below do not have adequate frame for acceptable growth and that cattle above frame seven (7) may have more frame and growth than needed when retaining replacement heifers. Each rancher must determine the level of growth and frame that fits his needs – at FHG you will find our cattle range between frames 5 and 7.5.
Yearling Weight is a good indicator of genetic growth. At FHG, our minimum for yearling bulls is 1000 pounds, and that is not a fat 1000 pounds. After weaning, the bulls are fed a roughage based ration balanced for 3 pounds of gain per day. For some bulls this is less than they gained while nursing the cow, but we are growing bulls (not fattening steers), and such growth demonstrates the genetic potential for 3.5 – 4.5 pounds of gain on the calves that are steered and fed out. The bulls, grown in large pens on our roughage based feeding program, develop sound feet and legs and are ready to work.
Weight per Day of Age
Most cattlemen get paid by the pound, so growth is very important. With our minimum weaning and yearling weights, we eliminate the poor-doing cattle, and this is not at the expense of calving ease or moderate mature size. By adding length, depth of rib, and thickness rather than height, we can have weight without sacrificing calving ease, fleshing ability, or getting the cows too big.
FHG’s minimum is 32 cm. – this is higher than the industry standard of 30 cm. for good reason: research has shown a direct correlation between a sire’s scrotal circumference and age of puberty of his daughters. Since over 90% of our customers retain heifers, it is very important to assure adequate size. We also adjust the scrotal measurement to 365 days allowing for better comparison between bulls of different ages.
Yearling pelvic on bulls? Yes, because they pass it along to their daughters and pelvic size influences calving ease. Our minimum is 150 cm2 on bulls and 160 cm2 on heifers adjusted to 365 days of age (bulls tend to be smaller than their heifer-mates). Again, because calving ease is so important to us and our customers, we have culled for pelvic size for enough years that small pelvis is not a problem. Generations of selection for this and other traits assure our customers of a more predictable genetic package – we have worked to eliminate the problems.
Breeding Soundness Exam
Either you have it or you do not. We will not sell a bull until he passes a BSE, including adequate scrotal size, morphology, motility and reproductive tract examination. We make sure our bulls are physically able to do what our customers are buying them to do.
The following standards must be met by both the bull and his dam:
It is not worth the risk. Wild cattle not only cost more in time and material, but are a health and safety risk that is not acceptable.
Conformation and Soundness
Conformation and soundness relates to ability and function. The best bull is no good if he cannot travel and breed cows, and what good is a cow that looks good but cannot perform her duties? Longevity and productivity have to start with a solid foundation.The following standards must be met by the bull’s dam.
Teat and Udder Quality
Look to the bull’s mother to tell you what his daughters might be like. Bulls pass along genetics for traits that cannot be measured on the bull himself, but what good are his daughters if they have to be sold at four or five years of age because of balloon teats or bad udders? This trait is especially important when trying to build your own factory of functional productive, problem-free cows. FHG has used a teat and udder scoring chart to cull our cowherd for years because no one wants to buy problems, and we will not put up with them ourselves.
Milk production on bulls? Yes – this is another trait for which we look beyond the bull for the answer. USDA Meat Animal Research Center results show that average Gelbvieh cross cows will produce 35% more milk than Angus/Hereford cross cows. How much milk do you want? Ideally, you want all of the milk you can get and have the cow rebreed without additional feed. Again, only you know what your ranch can provide, but milk is cheaper and better than creep feed. The “ideal” milk EPD will vary, but a “0” milk for a Gelbvieh/Gelbvieh cross may be all that you need.
Fertility of the bull’s daughters is influenced by his genetics, so how his mother and the dam of his sire performed provides good insight as to what his daughters will be like. At FHG, our cows must breed and rebreed without fail; if not, the factory is only consuming and not producing. Research tells us that reproduction is ten times more important to the bottom line than carcass quality, and five times more important than growth. Everything else is meaningless if the calf is never conceived. One way to look at it is, “every cow produces something to sell every year – either a calf, or herself.” FHG bulls pass along fertility because our breeds are noted for very strong fertility, early puberty, and excellent rebreeding – and we have emphasized those same traits.
Efficiency of the bull’s mother. In order to produce efficient factories, you need to use the right building materials. If you are trying to produce cows that consistently wean over 50% of their body weight, why not buy bulls from cows that are doing it without the aid of creep feed or irrigated pastures? We are not talking about 8 or 9 month old calf weights but, rather, 205 day weights without age of cow adjustments. Real pounds of calf divided by real pounds of cow equals efficiency – that means that if you calve in March and April and your cows weigh 1150 pounds, all of your calves (bulls, steers, heifers, first-calf heifer’s calves, twins, and late calves) would weigh an average of 575 pounds on the first of November.
Carcass trait measurements are taken by ultrasound and adjusted for age and weight. Each breed association’s carcass EPDs are utilized as available – maximize Marbling score to produce quality grades of “Select” or higher, and maximize Ribeye Area to increase overall carcass merit.
FHG has always used an aggressive herd health program, including vaccinations for BSRV, IBR, PI3, BVD, Lepto, Vibrio, Brucellosis and parasite control. With the discovery and spread of two very costly diseases – Persistently Infected BVD and Johne’s – we have added negative tests for both to our herd health protocol. Now, more than ever, “Quality Guaranteed Genetics” means the best genetics and disease prevention package available.