Increased calf mortality and illness is blamed on a variety of things: fluctuating weather patterns, an increased number of calvings per day or even transitioning of employees from one task to another. Oftentimes the real cause is the easiest one to fix.
“A common area that is overlooked on many operations is a calf’s navel or umbilicus,” says Bethany Fisher, calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition LLC. “This simple thing that triggered the first breath could easily be the source of the last.” Proper disinfection of the navel can reduce the risk of many ailments in calves.
The sport of Bull riding and its professional arm, the PBR (Professional Bull Riders), is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. An important participant and champion breeder of bucking bulls for the professional events is Cody Ohl, a six time PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Champion and fifteen time NFR (National Finals Rodeo) qualifier. Cody, who breeds bucking bulls on his ranch in Hico, Texas (90 miles SW of Ft. Worth) says, “...you know, everybody brings a pot load of bulls, which is 40-50, and I show up with only 10. And my 10 get as much feedback as somebody that’s bringing 40 bulls. We’re doing something right, and it’s working.”
Give or take a week or more, gestation varies enough to make cattlemen wonder: Is this an AI (artificial insemination) calf or a natural service? Multi-sire pastures raise even more questions.
“There are some unique things you can do if you know which bull sired which calf,” says Tonya Amen, with Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI). From bull behavior to replacement heifer selection, the possibilities are both interesting and applicable.
Commercial Angus producers now have that ability. In July, GeneMaxTM (GMX), a DNA test to measure gain and grade potential, added a function without adding cost: sire match. If bulls that could have bred a cow have been Pfizer-50K tested, the $17 commercial test can reveal her calf’s sire.
Gone are the days when the bucking bull was the villain of the rodeo. Today, the bovine athlete enjoys celebrity status in a sport that awards a quarter million dollar payout to the top bull each year.
Much of the sport’s popularity begins with Professional Bull Riders, Inc. Twenty bull riders formed the company today based in Pueblo, Colo., in 1992 with the goal of bringing bull riding out of the rodeo world and into mainstream America.