Much like the six essentials developed by Tom Lasater, Collier Farm’s breeding philosophy targets the most basic ranching principles of breeding productive and profitable cattle. In order to achieve this goal, Collier Farms places its central focus on producing forage-developed, range-ready, and performance-evaluated cattle that will work for any ranching program. Through use of a multi-trait selection process and strict culling practices, Collier Farms is able to continue directing its efforts toward this central ideal. The traits targeted by Collier Farms are those which are demanded by ranchers who understand that being efficient as well as productive leads to profitability and longevity in the beef industry. Because many of the traits necessary for profitable beef production are intertwined, Collier Farms selects for a combination of structural soundness, self-maintenance, consistent fertility, superior milk production, and growth performance levels that meet and exceed industry demand. While cattle selection at Collier Farms is based on animals that meet these trait demands, they also require cattle to perform and achieve these levels of production under commercial range conditions and cost effective, commonly used, ranching practices. By doing so, Collier Farms has been able to develop an extensive breeding program and produce cattle that will become the basis for future success in both the registered and commercial areas of the beef industry.
Essential to the success of any business is the ability to create a strategic plan or program from which it can move toward its business goals meanwhile evaluating current production and profitability levels. At Collier Farms, this is achieved through the creation of an extensive breeding program. Collier Farm’s breeding program targets the areas that facilitate meeting the focus of the operation and creates a means by which to base trait selection and culling practices. The areas of the program can be broken down into four main categories: herd sire selection, cow/calf production, replacement female selection and development, and accelerated genetic improvement. Throughout the beef industry, it is generally accepted that the majority of genetic improvement originates from herd sire selection. Collier Farms places heavy emphasis on selecting sires that posses a balance of all the traits demanded in our breeding philosophy as well as exhibiting the potential to improve the overall program. Herd sires are evaluated based on conformational correctness, weight gain and fertility performance, dam’s maternal abilities, predictability of pedigree, and color. An ideal Collier Farms herd sire prospect will display a long flat top, ample bone, heavy muscling, proper leg and hoof design, extra depth of body and volume, a smooth front with extended neck length, a clean correctly designed underline, and red coloring. All herd sire prospects should also posses a superior performance record indicating their ability to produce offspring that will excel in this vital area of the beef industry. Collier Farms places primary emphasis on weaning and yearling data while considering the animal's EPDs as well. Besides weight gain and carcass performance, Collier Farms desires bulls with high fertility tests and adequate scrotal circumferences. Calving intervals of the individual’s dam and siblings are also taken into consideration. Along with proven production records, a bull’s dam must have proper udder design and a strong milking ability. One of the most common and predictable ways of assuring a potential herd sire will meet the necessary criteria is the study of its pedigree. Through evaluation of pedigree, certain desirable and undesirable traits can be identified then sought after or avoided. Equally as important is the desire for potential herd sires to be red in coloring. Red coloring provides three essentials for any Beefmaster bull, heat tolerance, market acceptability, and breed character. The heart of the Collier Farms breeding program and Beefmaster breed lies in the area of cow/calf production. Because this sector of the beef industry has paramount importance and can be more easily measured for efficiency and profitability, Collier Farms places the highest level of emphasis on their brood cow herds. All brood cows at Collier Farms must produce a calf of acceptable quality every year, d back in a 90 day breeding season, and do so on commercial range conditions. The Collier Farms “cow year” begins when a bred cow weans her calf and returns to pasture. From this point, she will loaf for approximately four months until the birth of her next calf. Once she calves unassisted, Collier Farms brood cows will go to work foraging for themselves and their calves via milk production and breed back within 90 days of the birth of their calves. If cows are to be bred artificially, they are set up at 45 days, artificially inseminated, and returned to pasture with a bull, after a 10 day window. The AI cows are still required to breed within 90 days of calving. After the cows are bred and bulls removed from the pastures, the cows will continue to raise their calves for the next 4 to 6 months depending on their date of calving and its correspondence with working time. At weaning time, all cows are palpated and those bred back return to pasture for another “cow year.” Those cows that aren’t bred are removed from the brood cow herd. Following this strict but economically necessary program eliminates problem animals and inefficiencies, meanwhile increasing fertility, longevity, weaning weights, and profitability. Collier Farms believes that as seed-stock and commercial replacement producers their cattle must perform to levels that meet and exceed the demands of today’s cattlemen.
While a large part of the genetic improvement in today’s beef industry comes from the use of improved herd sires, selection of a herd’s replacement females can be just as crucial. At Collier Farms, potential replacement females are required to meet a strict list of criteria and follow a mandatory path toward becoming a brood cow replacement. Once weaned from heir dams, young heifers are weighed and evaluated for desirable structural design, muscling and fleshing ability, udder design, disposition, weight performance, and coloring. The females then proceed through a forage based weaning and developing process until the age of approximately 12 months. At this time, yearling performance is evaluated as well as an overall assessment of the individual’s progress. Once females have avoided being culled by this point due to inferior traits or development, they are then returned to pasture where they will continue to grow until they are ready for breeding. Depending on the time of year in which heifers reach 15 months of age, they are setup for AI or put directly with a young herd sire prospect. The target age for virgin heifers to conceive is between 15 and 19 months of age, depending on the desired calving date. This results in the heifers calving between 24 and 28 months of age in either the fall or spring calving groups. Once the young females calve, they are required to raise an acceptable calf up to an age of at least six months, breed back within 90 days of calving, and maintain a desirable body condition all while foraging on pasture. After a replacement female has successfully proceeded through this developmental path, her genetic history and the performance of siblings are evaluated and the female then becomes a brood cow replacement within the herd of which she best fits.
While following strict selection, developmental, and culling practices creates superior cattle, the time required to do so may prevent a program from expansion and slow its economic growth to inefficient levels. In order to help avoid this phenomenon, Collier Farms is using developments such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer in order to accelerate genetic improvement. Through use of AI, Collier Farms is using their most complete and genetically improved herd sires with a larger number of brood cows than such a bull could service naturally. In addition to broader use of the most improved sires, Collier Farms is also able to spread the genetic influence of their top females through their embryo transfer program. By replicating the matings of their top genetic individuals along with some the most proven genetics of the breed, Collier Farms is able to accelerate the improvement of the genetics within the entire herd as well as offering some of these elite individuals for sale.
The seedstock cattle business and the entire beef industry as a whole is an ever changing arena that is constantly challenging the established practices with those of the most recent advancements. This combined with changing consumer demands and cyclical fads that come and go, can often cause cattle breeders and beef producers to lose sight of their own program objectives in search of adherence with the current flow of the industry. While this sometimes appears to promote short-term gains, producers that are truly interested in the long-term advancement of any sector in the beef industry must concentrate on their objectives and stay the course. Collier Farms believes that maintaining their objectives of producing forage-raise, range-ready, and performance-evaluated cattle, they will continue to move forward into a successful future in the beef industry. In order to accomplish this, Collier Farms will continue to increase the stringency of their culling practices, propagate only the animals of superior performance and design within their herd, and constantly seek the most advanced and proven genetics the Beefmaster breed has to offer. The end goal of the perfect animal can never be reached, for the times and demands of the industry will continue to be ever changing. This does not mean though that the continual pursuit of improvement will not allow Collier Farms to achieve its goal of breeding productive and profitable cattle. Visit Us Today!