Skip ahead in herd planning

Farm Forum

“I’ll just DVR it,” someone might say if they can’t make plans to be in front of the television when their favorite show or special report is scheduled to air.

It’s become something of a verb, like suggesting you do an Internet web search by “Googling it.”

We don’t have cable and haven’t gone to the expense or trouble of getting a digital video recorder (DVR) to help us keep up with the three network stations we draw in for free.

I’m conflicted. It probably means we watch less TV than the average person, but I’m also very interested in efficiency and realize that when we do watch a show it probably takes us twice as long.

Enter the example from my parents’ house: They don’t turn on the 10 o’clock news until it’s 10 or 15 minutes after. By DVR-ing it and skipping commercials, they can watch more than one show in the same half-hour slot. My dad claims he can view an entire NFL football game in two hours now, compared to the all-afternoon event it once was.

Imagine if we could have that same kind of efficiency in the cattle business—especially as it relates to genetics—cutting the time it takes us to see end results by half.

In a business where every improvement moves at a slower pace than our other protein-producing competitors, that would be a dream.

Or maybe it’s reality.

Today you can “DVR it.” Dodge Variation Rapidly, that is. DNA tests are proven game changers in making focused genetic advances more quickly.

Previously, if you wanted to use a young bull, you either had to take a chance that it really did what it was predicted to do or wait around until there was enough data to strengthen the accuracy. Genomics can fast-forward that timetable, and a simple blood test improves accuracy that is equivalent to having 10 to 20 progeny records.

If you’re in a herd rebuilding phase, stop to think of the value of a replacement heifer. What is the cost of making a bad decision?

DNA genomic tests are a simple tool that can help you characterize, sort and be more certain of which females belong in your herd and which ones don’t.

It allows you to speed up the game, which is good if you’re headed in the right direction. It’s also good if you can find out sooner that your herd is veering off track and you need a course correction.

If you’re aiming to improve quality and performance measures, to draw in rewards from the next segment in the beef chain, to create more consistency from your ranch all the way to the consumer, you might want to think of employing a little of this technology.

“Just DVR it!”

Next time in Black Ink Steve Suther will look at multitasking. Questions? E-mail