What is the Best Cow?

The best cow I ever bought was a real beauty. Her name was Miss Unaweep Rafter 145, and she came with some fancy registration papers and a bull calf at her side that my mother thought could be our next herd sire. I know old Unaweep was a good cow. She must have been - I paid $1,700 for her! Those were 1971 dollars (the equivalent of $10,976.28 today) and represented the majority of my cattle account. That calf did grow up to be a fine bull, but I wound up shooting that cow only three years later as she was suffering from some kind of cancer. Since that time, I’ve heard plenty of theories about how to judge the value of cows, or how to pick the best one out of the herd. At the fairs and the shows, I’ve watched fellas choose Grand Champion females that I suspect would fall apart in no time if you hid the grain bucket. At the auction, I see people choose to pay just that dangedest amount of money for one particular cow or another, and these judgements are so shrouded in mystery that I could not, not for one moment, take a guess as to what they are thinking or what they are measuring or what calculations are occurring. In the trade magazines and the slick catalogues there are all kind of helpful suggestions to help folks discern value: weaning weights, yearling weights, adult weights, height and length, color and of course, the ever-helpful EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences). Frankly, when it comes to judging a cow’s value, I don’t have much faith in any of those t

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

4 thoughts on “What is the Best Cow?

  1. I heartily agree with this article. After reading temple grandin and others, I have come to believe what is missing from the replacement market is artificial selection that mimics natural selection. We should be saving the cows that perform best under tough conditions, and quit doctoring over genetic problems. We should cull like lions.

    1. Hi Rob.

      I guess you might be right: pretty simple. But apparently, not very easy. I think people get all balled up because if they actually cull those bad cows, then they’ll have to keep more heifers, and if they keep more heifers, they’ll have to have more bulls and then and then and then…

      Mostly, people have to want to make progress.

Comments are closed.

Translate »