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Title: Adapting Bulls to Florida

item Chase, Chadwick - Chad

Submitted to: Florida Beef Cattle Short Course
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/30/2008
Publication Date: 5/2/2008
Citation: Chase, C.C., Chenoweth, P. 2008. Adapting Bulls to Florida. Florida Beef Cattle Short Course. Fifty-seventy Annual Florida Beef Cattle Short Course proceedings;"Positioning Cattle Producers to Access Markets, Choose Bulls, and Fine Tune Management". Hilton University of Florida Conference Center, Gainesville, Florida. April 30-May 2, 2008. 2008 Florida Beef Cattle Short Course Proceedings. Pages 41-45.

Interpretive Summary: Results of GEI studies demonstrated that for growth traits of bulls, origin i.e., local vs. introduced, both preweaning and postweaning growth was greater for local than introduced Hereford lines. This information at least for growth and development of bulls would indicate the importance of purchasing bulls born and raised in a similar region as they will be used. Furthermore, when bulls from Montana and Florida were evaluated during summer in Florida, both growth and semen traits were affected adversely in Montana but not Florida line bulls. This is important because a depression in semen traits can adversely affect reproductive performance. Semen traits were also adversely affected during summer in Angus (unadapted) compared to Senepol (adapted) bulls in Florida. In the tropics, researchers concluded that bull selection and premating criteria should have a threshold of 70% normal sperm. As far as the selection and use of bulls for Florida, many of the traits would be similar whether the bulls were local or introduced. New bulls should go through a period of acclimatization and quarantine. For introduced bulls, greater care premating and postmating may be necessary to keep adequate condition scores on the bulls. More than likely, the breeding season will not coincide with the worst hot and humid months and careful maintenance prior to the breeding season will ensure adequate body condition going into the breeding season. During the hot and humid summer months, adequate water and shade is important. Selection of bulls based on EPDs, pedigree, structural conformation, and positive results from a breeding soundness examination (BSE) including analysis of semen traits is necessary. All bulls should be re-examined and a BSE conducted at least 60 days prior to the start of the breeding season so that any bulls with a deferred score can be re-examined before the beginning of the breeding season. Trends are to use lower BFR than in the past, and competent bulls screened for BSE should be able to accomplish the job at 1:40 for mature bulls and 1:15 to 20 for yearling bulls.

Technical Abstract: The adaptation of bulls used for natural breeding purposes to the Gulf Coast region of the United States including all of Florida is an important topic. Nearly 40% of the U.S. cow/calf population resides in the Gulf Coast and Southeast. Thus, as A.I. is relatively rare, the number of bulls used for natural service is an extremely high number. Although there are a number of seedstock producers in the region, other more northern regions are also well known for bull production of temperate adapted breeds in particular. Due to the high demand for breeding bulls in Gulf Coast states there may be times when bulls are purchased from outside the region and hence were born and raised in another more temperate climate. These bulls are referred to as “introduced” or “unadapted” in contrast to “local” or “adapted” bulls. The subtropics include the Gulf Coast region and this is a relatively stressful environment. Adaptation to, or tolerance of, a variety of stressors including heat, humidity, disease, parasite burden, and low quality forage are important attributes. The genotype by environment interaction (GEI) is related to adaptation and was clearly demonstrated in exchanges of Hereford cattle between Montana and Florida. These studies documented differences in productivity between Montana and Florida Hereford cattle and demonstrated that these differences favoured the local vs. introduced Hereford over generations. Therefore, this paper will first describe the results of those GEI studies specifically for bulls, second will describe results of a few other studies that evaluated reproductive performance of bulls in the subtropics or tropics, third will emphasize the importance of acclimation and quarantine, and fourth will discuss multiple sire breeding and bull to female ratio. Genotype by Environment Interaction A series of papers were published on the subsequent productivity of Hereford cattle exchanged between Montana and Florida (Butts et al., 1971; Koger et al., 1979; Burns et al., 1979; Pahnish et al., 1983, 1985). One paper specifically described the postweaning development of bulls (Pahnish et al., 1985). For phase 1, Hereford cattle from Montana (Line 1) were swapped with Hereford cattle from Florida (Line 6). The weaning weights (actual and 205-day adjusted) of bull calves born from 1966 to 1973 were for Line 1 in MT 408 and 461 lb, Line 6 in MT 386 and 434 lb, Line 1 in FL 412 and 401 lb, and Line 6 in FL 456 and 443 lb. Actual weaning weight was influenced by line and location, but 205 d adjusted weaning weight was influenced by location only and not by line. For origin (line x location), there was a 33 lb advantage for local over introduced bulls in both actual and 205 day adjusted weaning weight. For the postweaning test, nutritional diets and length of test markedly differed between locations (age at end of test in MT 394 days and in FL 586 days). End test weight and postweaning daily gain were for Line 1 in MT 981 lb and 2.72 lb/day, Line 6 in MT 897 lb and 2.43 lb/day, Line 1 in FL 996 lb and 1.60 lb/day, and Line 6 in FL 1043 lb and 1.60 lb/day. Line and location were significant for end test weight and postweaning daily gain (as well as for condition score, confirmation score, and forecannon circumference). For origin (line x location), there was a 66 lb advantage for end test weight and 0.15 lb/day advantage in postweaning daily gain for local over introduced bulls. Thus, about one half of the advantage seen in end test weight occurred from birth to weaning and the other one half occurred from weaning to the end of test. In phase 2 (which overlapped with phase 1), base herds of Line 1 Herefords were established in both Montana and Florida. Line 1 Hereford bulls produced in Montana were used to breed one herd in Montana and another one In Florida, and bulls from Line 1 Montana cows were selected in Florida, Line 4, a