home : Site map

Articles from the Bar T Bar Ranch, Southwest bull breeders
Articles from the Bar T Bar Ranch, Winslow, AZ
Articles from the Bar T Bar Ranch, Southwest bull breeders

Click here to download our latest “Bull Pen” in PDF format.

The Prosser Family
P.O. Box 190
Winslow, AZ 86047
928.289.2619 (winter) 928.477.2458 (summer) info@bartbar.com

Articles from the Bar T Bar Ranch : Southwest bull sales

Articles

 

Bar T Bar brand

Q&A with Burke Teichert

We’ve long admired how Burke Teichert manages cattle and ranches. He spent decades managing some of the largest in the U.S. as the recently retired vice president and general manager of Deseret. Teichert is a ranch consultant these days, as well as sought-after speaker. We asked him about some of his perspectives.

How important is heterosis in the commercial cow herd?

“Heterosis has the greatest effect where selection has the least,” Teichert says. “So, if you use good selection within the breeds you use and maintain heterosis in the cow herd, you can put together the advantages of both. To me, that’s what makes a good set of cattle.”

As an example, Teichert explains crossbred calves out of a straight-bred dam have about an 8% advantage compared to straight-bred calves; 21-23% for crossbred calves out of a crossbred cow.

“I think those kind of numbers are realistic. If anything, I think they’re probably conservative,” Teichert says.

Teichert emphasizes optimum maternal heterosis isn’t necessarily maximum. “I don’t strive for maximum heterosis, but seek an optimum that fits comfortably with the other factors I must manage, including grazing, labor efficiency and marketing.

“If you can be somewhere between 50% and 80% heterosis on every cow in the herd, that’s probably optimum for the typical operation,” he says. As a rule, it beats straight-bred cows or a deuce mixture ranging from straight-bred to three-way crosses.
           
How important is heifer selection compared to bull selection?

“Bull selection is probably significantly more important over the longer term,” Teichert says. “In the short term, I think heifer selection is more important, especially if you let Mother Nature do some of the testing for you. Don’t over-develop heifers and let those that will get pregnant in a short season (30 days or less) get pregnant…Those heifers bred in a short season end up being better cows and staying that way.”

Along with the ability to conceive in a short season, Teichert looks for reasons to eliminate them from the herd rather than for justification to keep them. For him, reasons to eliminate include heifers with sub-par performance, any hint of eyes problems, feet and leg problems, poor disposition, heifers too tall or too narrow.

“You need to set objectives for what works on your ranch and in your environment,” Teichert says. “If you raise your own replacements, the bulls you select become the future of your herd. Meanwhile, judicious cow culling can clean up your herd and make it more manageable and marketable.”

Though the list of culling criteria varies with each ranch, this is what Teichert’s list looks like:

How do you develop heifers?

“I don’t pamper these calves in any way. I prefer to push the edge on minimizing feeding and force them to graze,” Teichert says. “Remember, if you are calving just before or after the start of green grass, the heifer will have two or more months on green grass before breeding. The heifers can gain very rapidly and compensate for a slower winter gain. The environment is now beginning to select those heifers that can, and can’t, do what we want.”

If you’re not already developing heifers that way, Teichert adds he would not switch to this minimum-input approach from feedlot-type development in a single year.

“If using bulls, I like to expose the heifers for no longer than 30 days. In my experience across several ranches, we’ve had pregnancy rates from 65% to 85%, but they get better with time, and your ability to predict them gets quite good after two years.
If you start with 150 heifers, a pregnancy rate of 67% will result in 100 pregnant heifers. If your pregnancy rate is 80%, you can start with 125 heifers and get 100 pregnant. Remember, in most situations, the open heifers are a nice profit center.”

How deep can you cull economically?

“Reproduction makes more money than everything else put together,” Teichert says. That’s why he won’t make excuses for cattle than don’t breed, calve and wean a calf on time.

“We just can’t spend much labor on commercial cows; there isn’t a payback to it,” Teichert says. “Culling keeps the calving season short and it keeps problems out of your life. Get rid of the cows that are problems or could be problematic. My experience is that if you do that over a long period of time, you get to where you don’t have many problems.”

On the other end of that equation, Teichert points out if a ranch can develop heifers for a reasonable cost, they can expose more heifers and cull cows deeper.

For development, think of running heifers as stocker cattle and then reaping the same Value of Gain enjoyed by that sector for heifers left unexposed and for open ones.

Teichert believes smaller operations would be money ahead to buy such cows, forego heifer development and breed their cows to terminal sires.

For larger operations culling reproductively fit cows that are later calving or don’t quite fit the herd, Teichert says, “I figure if I can get the weigh price of the cow plus $300 then I’m in good shape economically…If the sale of a typical cull cow will pay the cash cost of developing her replacement, and if you can sell enough later-calving cows as bred cows to offset the cost of keeping a few more heifers, the resulting shorter calving season and elimination of problem cows should result in more profit.”

Overall, Teichert explains, “You must play culling rate against herd turnover or replacement rate. If replacements are expensive to raise or purchase, you will want to slow your turnover and will need to cull less severely. If you can develop replacements cost effectively and have a good market for bred cows, you can increase the herd turnover rate and cull more aggressively.”

Should seedstock producers’ culling criteria be harsher than that of their commercial customers?

“I want the seedstock producer’s culling criteria to be at least as tough as mine and similar to what I cull for. I think his culling criteria should be as least as tough as mine and that of the majority of his commercial customers,” Teichert says. “I want to look at his cows and know that the bulls he’s selling are out of good cows that breed and calve on time.”

What are some of your criteria for choosing which seedstock producers you’ll consider dealing with?

“As a commercial producer, I will keep few records, and most of those will be kept on the critter (ear notches, etc.) but I want my seedstock supplier to have lots of records; good, accurate EPDs, and I want to have a sense that he’s submitting accurate data in the manner he should,” Teichert says. “I want my seedstock supplier to utilize whole-herd reporting (with the respective breed associations). I want the bad calves reported as well as the good ones; we all have them.”

Finally, thinking back to the emphasis Teichert places on maternal heterosis, he says, “I want the seedstock producer to help me maintain heterosis by offering several pure breeds or composite bulls… I prefer to buy composite bulls to maintain a level of heterosis. This approach greatly facilitates grazing and labor management. I want to trust a seedstock provider to understand my objectives and make bulls to help me reach those objectives.”

back to top