We are again at the Agricultural University in Plovdiv, where we are talking to Svetoslav Karamfilov. Dr. Karamfilov is a member of the Scientific Council of NARMS and is a lecturer in the Department of Animal Sciences at the Agricultural University.
Our topic today is entirely practical and in it we will try to help you choose a specific bull from the random plan to use for insemination of animals in the herd depending on the goals and the desired effect.
– Good afternoon, Dr. Karamfilov! Without further ado, tell us what to look for in catalogs and how to read them?
– Hello, let’s develop the topic today by looking at one of the bulls included in the random plan of the Association – Hubraum. We will make an external profile for him and give general information regarding his breeding value based on this profile. Before focusing on the evaluation of the exterior, I want to start with the fact that the breeding value of each bull is a generalized expression not only of the exterior and morphology of the bull, but also of three other large groups of traits marked as productive, functional and healthy. , which are made on the basis of an assessment of a number of his daughters, which are also judged by exterior and morphology.
This logically means that the process of accurate and reliable evaluation of a bull takes a long time and several generations. Daughters are usually judged on their first lactation in terms of productivity, functionality, exterior and general health. They are then re-evaluated for a third lactation on the same complex grounds. The results are filled in a special database that calculates the breeding value of the bull.
Why is it necessary to evaluate both the first and the third lactation? Because it is believed that cattle reach full maturity of the body at 5 years, ie. of the third lactation. All records and measurements, which are standardly made in the areas of productivity, exterior, reproduction, feed utilization and health for maximum reliability are carried out on the first and third lactation.
The second is omitted because it is not economically profitable to make an annual assessment, and even then the peak in milk productivity has not yet been reached, which is a key indicator in the formation of the total breeding value of the bull. All changes that occur in the body after the passage of lactation peak are explained by the aging process and are not a criterion for assessing the father.
It is important to specify that in different breeds the peak is reached at different times. In the Simmental breed, it is possible for this peak to occur later, as the breed itself is characterized by later maturity. For the most accurate and reliable assessment, all conditions and peculiarities concerning the animals, breed and method of breeding must be taken into account. Simmentals traditionally retain their peak in the fourth and even fifth lactation.
– In this regard, when do you recommend to proceed with the first insemination of heifers of the breed, given the later onset of maturity in these animals?
– Attention must be paid to the complex development and growth of young animals before they are bred. There are certain lengths, depths and levels of live weight that must be reached in order to expect optimal results. Too early insemination carries risks in the future, concerning both the health of the very young mother and the potential of the offspring. We will consider this topic separately, as it is important and often underestimated. Farmers often rely only on mass accumulation and do not take into account other equally important indicators. They think that reaching over 350 kg of live weight means reaching sexual maturity, but this is not the case. Growth and development must go hand in hand and be assessed comprehensively. Development means reaching a certain physique, which will allow the young animal to functionally bear and give birth to a full-fledged offspring without leading to health consequences for both him and the fetus! Different countries have adopted different standards for first breeding for the Simmental breed. Age of 16-18 months is optimal for Bulgaria.
– Let’s continue with Hubraum and one of his daughters, to whom we publish a photo. What to watch, how to read what is written about the breeding value?
– When presenting the data for a specific bull in the bull catalog, the index for its total breeding value must be indicated. It should be noted that this is a variable that is periodically updated depending on the new information coming in at the discretion of the observed daughters. In developed countries, this is done once every three months.
The general breeding index is followed by the number of the national identification of the bull, the owner, the breeding organization or station providing the data, the number of daughters on which the assessment is made and the number of herds from which the data come.
Further, groups present the data on the productive, functional, morphological and health traits that form the total breeding value. It should be noted that all parameters are given as a deviation +/- from the mean for the population in which the assessment of this value is performed.
Let’s start with the exterior. We will look at the elements in the photo of the bull, which must be taken into account. The photos are typical and meet certain conditions. It is accepted that they are profiled for maximum illustration of the exterior features. Zootechnical descriptions of animals start from the head and go back to each element that describes the productive type of bull. The exterior can very quickly guide us to the productive direction of the bull – whether it is dairy-meat, meat-dairy or entirely meat, as there are visible differences.
Let’s look at Hubraum. Of course, his photo was taken in exhibition condition with a toilet, cleaned and in the most aesthetic form possible. The photo should illustrate the development of parts of the body that are respectively a criterion for the meat or dairy direction, or for both as with mixed breeds such as Simmental.
At first glance you can see an elongated body, more developed middle part, more developed croup and thighs. In particular, Hubraum has an exceptional muscularity of the thigh, which starts from the top of the buttocks and reaches down almost to the hocks. The thigh has a characteristic roundness with a width that reaches all the way to the inside of the thigh. It can also be seen that it has a very good thrust girth. The croup is strong and stable, which provides width and wide grip of the hind limbs. The croup is actually the pelvis, which is formed at the junction of the points between the femoral elevations, the points at the hip joints and the sciatic bones. This rhombus, which is formed between these points is conditionally called croup.
– Let’s take a look at the exterior of the Hubraum and start with the chapter on the example of the zootechnical assessment.
– Bulls must have the characteristic head of their breed. Hubraum has the typical scars – white head and pink mucous membranes – mucous membranes of the nasal mirror, eyes, vulva and hooves. It is customary to have spots on the head and is not a sign of impurity. Hubraum has well-connected straight jaws that form a wide nose. This is a sign of a well-developed respiratory system. It is very important that the upper and lower jaws are symmetrically placed, as is the case. This means that it has good chewing ability. Well-formed masticatory muscles in the upper part of the head are visible. Hubraum can handle roughage well and has passed this quality on to the daughter we see in the photo.
The type of head is very important for any breed. Simmental is a broad-haired breed. If you are offered Simmental with an atypical head shape, check its pedigree. You can find your way around the head of Hubraum, as it is a typical representative of its craneological appearance and breed.
The head can be a signal of sexual dimorphism and you must pay attention to this when choosing animals! Simply put – choose bulls with a bull’s head and cows with a cow’s head! The cow’s head is softer, more delicate and elongated, it lacks the characteristic width of bulls. Bulls, respectively, have rougher features, pronounced masticatory muscles. Carefully examine the head when choosing animals!
From there, the head must be firmly and smoothly connected to the neck, which in turn must be smoothly connected to the front girdle of the physique, ie. with the shoulders. The neck should connect well with the front of the chest and shoulders, to fit smoothly without sudden passes and pinches. In the case of Hubraum, everything is as it should be – we do not have sudden transitions from head to neck and from neck to waist. Characteristically good musculature of the neck is seen. This is very good for breeders of combined breeds.
The neck makes up about 30% of the length of the whole body. In dairy breeds, the skin is soft, supple and sometimes delicate folds form on the neck. This bull also has such delicate folds that are a sign of potential in the dairy direction.
It is typical for the Simmental, because the forechest (sternum in the lower part of the thorax) is slightly more forward, a skin fold descends from the end of the head down to the sternum. It’s called a leather necklace. It is typical for male Simmental breeders, we also see it in Hubraum. Is this pronounced leather necklace present a sign of pedigree.
We continue with the front belt of the chest, which is extremely important for dairy breeds. The development of the correct shape of the breast is very important for achieving high milk productivity.
On demand and as with Simmental, the chest must be wide, deep and long to accommodate a large heart that pumps a lot of blood to produce a lot of milk. In dairy breeds, the ribs are wide and flat with large intercostal spaces. They protrude from the top of the spine backwards, sideways and in width, and not at right angles to the spine. In this way, they open the chest.
To find your way when choosing a dairy-producing animal – a bull or a cow, you should, when you look at it from the side, see that it has a pear-shaped shape. The back of the body should be wider and deeper, and the front of the animal should narrow.
Sufficient chest depth can be judged by looking down at the sternum, which should fall below the ulna of the forelimb.
The front limb consists of the shoulder blade, shoulder-shoulder joint, sub-arm and elbow. The elbow is an indicator of the depth of the chest.
You need to choose animals with well-fitting shoulders. Shoulders that are peeled off lead to the so-called. failure of the front belt, which is a serious exterior defect. Animals with such decay have an unstable physique, get tired easily on pasture and when they are in the barn, they lie down more often.
The placement of the front limbs should be wide, which is an indicator of the optimal width of the chest, which as we said is very important. When we stand in front of the animal, we should see the shoulder-shoulder joints far enough apart. It is good to take measurements to see if the width of the set and that of the chest meet the standards for the breed.
For dairy breeds, the principle “The wider, the better!” Applies in this respect. The limbs must be absolutely correctly positioned, as we see in the case of Hubraum.
Several criteria are judged for correct staging. The hooves below must be correctly directed forward and parallel without any distortion. The metacarpal joints, which are often confused with the knees, should not be brought together. The limbs should be parallel and spaced from the top of the limbs, from the shoulders to the bottom. The convergence of the metacarpal joints and the inversion of the hooves outwards or inwards are considered to be a serious external defect. Animals in which it is present do not have the necessary stability, get tired quickly and soon fall out of the herds due to lack of resilience.
We continue back with the chest, which should be wide, deep, pear-shaped. Where the last rib ends, so does the chest. Next is the waist, which wears a very serious weight. This is the point between the front and back of the animal’s body. It collects the weight of the internal organs and that of pregnancy, which reaches 50-60 kg and more. For this reason, it is important that the waist is extremely stable. With age, the animals perish at this very point. To find out about its stability when choosing animals, look at the back line of the bull or cow. In dairy farming you can find it with the expression top line. The optimal back line is absolutely straight from the beginning of the withers to the end of the beginning of the croup and tail. However, it is almost unattainable in reality, so do not trust photos of animals with an absolutely straight back line.
Regarding the withers – it is the place where the two shoulders join together with the prickly growths of the first dorsal vertebrae. It is typical for dairy breeds to be sharp. For the combined, however, such as the Simmental, it can be slightly spaced due to abundant muscularity and yet with strong ligaments and tight shoulders.
To be continued…