Selecting Your Foundation Stock | Livestock

Three factors need consideration when selecting your foundation breeding stock for your bucking bull program. The first two aspects to base selections on are common to all livestock breeding programs. The number one consideration is does the animal have the conformation you want to see in your herd? Second, does the animal have a genetic pedigree of quality that will enhance your bloodlines? Third, unique to breeding animals that will perform as athletes is does this animal demonstrate the athletic ability that you want to see in it’s offspring?These are the considerations I was taught when I got started five years ago by my mentors and I hold to the same criteria today when looking at adding an animal to our herd. When people just getting started ask me about picking their first herd cows or selecting the bull each season to breed to, these are the points I suggest they look to in making a decision.There are all kinds of bucking bred cattle so when talking conformation, there is not a set breed standard but both a “look” and a type of animal athletically, that most breeders are shooting for. Some like big boned, hard bucking monsters. Some breeders like large “handlebars” as we call horns. Others like compact, wiry little spinners. Then there are the shaggy, dog faced muleys from up north. The classic look is the big, high horned Brahma humped bull big in the chest and smaller in the back end. Study the competition and decide what you like.When buying foundation stock, only consider an animal that is registered and has a pedigree with bloodlines that prove out the transmission of the bucking tendency and temperament through multiple generations. This is different than picking an animal just for competitive purposes. In that case, it is enough that that individual animal can buck. Here though, you want to see that the trait passes through calf crop, after calf crop.The athletic ability of an animal is certainly linked to it’s conformation but just as in humans there is an additional something special that makes a competitor. You can have a bull with a fantastic pedigree that looks great but will hippity hop across the arena or just doesn’t have the spirit to fight when a cowboy doesn’t come off in the first few seconds. I look for intelligence, speed, and the ability to follow my direction. My animals like to run, play, and are not timid or too skittish.If you follow these guidelines you will end up with a breeding herd that will produce generation after generation of champion competitors whether your herd is in the hundreds or you just have a handful. Again, I don’t claim to have invented this approach, it is what has been shared with me by the old time rough stock men but it is a recipe for success.