Utilizing EPDs to Increase Profitability with RA Brown’s Donnell Brown

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Donnell Brown about EPDs.

Senor Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays is talking with Donnell Brown, rancher at the R.A. Brown in Throckmorton, Texas, about Expected Progeny Differences (EPD’s). At the 2024 Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention, Brown led a session on the value of EPD’s.

Brown said his passion for utilizing EPD’s to make better selections and breed better cattle goes back to his teenage years.

“To me, bull selection is almost as important as spouse selection,” Brown said. “Am I just going to take what they look like, or am I going to take into account what life is going to be like with them?”

When selecting bulls, Brown said he considers how a bull will add value and profit to the ranch.

“An extra 20 pounds of weaning weight can mean a lot of dollars,” Brown said. “Most bulls are going to produce at least 100 calves in their lifetime, and when you look at dollars per calf produced, what we realize on a bull is that a bull is an investment, not a cost. You get what you pay for. Let’s analyze what this bull is bringing to me genetically so that I can make a smart business decision.”

Brown said that in addition to the income side of the profit equation, expenses must also be considered. With the help of new various EPDs, Brown said a large quantity of data can be accessed to help make these decisions.

“Those open cows are expensive, and if I can keep more of those cows pregnant every year and calving generally, that is more pounds returned per acre to the ranch,” Brown said.

With an abundance of information available today, Brown said he likes to simplify things by examining a handful of traits in the percentile rank tables of EPDs that rank the cattle.

“For example, milk and mature size on my replacement females- I don’t want to be in the top 1 percent,” Brown said. “I want ‘Goldilocks’ cows. Not too big, not too small, but just right. That middle-of-the-road section is a lot safer place for me when it comes to cow size and feed intake, and things like that.”

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