Isa Informer Newsletter

From the Spring 2006 issue of the Isa Informer

Performance testing for 70 years!

Tom Lasater began weighing his bull calves 70 years ago this month. He did so in a period in our history when cattle were being sold by the head, and he was recognized as a crackpot, a revolutionary genius and everything in between.

Tom saw that weaning weights and a defined breeding season of 90 days or less were two extremely simple ways to identify high performers and low performers and, by doing so, enforce the Six Essentials. Today, weighing calves is the cornerstone of any relevant breeding program and should be as routine as turning out bulls.

We take our heritage of performance testing very seriously, and it shows in our cattle and in the performance information backing them up.

Observations on Genetics

Calving-interval records:

We don't need any calving-interval records. Every cow in our herd has a 365-day calving interval or she is gone. Tom Lasater was the first breeder anywhere to establish this baseline. In our herd, every heifer calves in the same 60-day slot as her mother and grandmother, and that includes AI and ET calves.

In reading sale catalogs from other breeds, it is obvious from the bulls' birthdates that few breeders follow this policy. It is a mystery how someone could buy a bull from a breeder who is not pushing fertility.

Heifer bulls:

We don't have any heifer bulls. Every herd bull we keep and every semen bull we use is first bred to heifers. Why would anyone breed anything to a high-birthweight bull?