I recently framed scored an animal, and I thought do people even do that anymore?
A test I saw done or was done to my animals at sales on numerous occasions when I was younger, but something I have not physically seen with my own eyes in years.
Standing crush side we had to refresh our memories of how to take a frame score. Simple, yet not a task that is commonly conducted by every studmaster every year ahead of their sales.
It rarely is requested from a buyer's perspective either.
We keep hearing that the size of bulls and cows are getting smaller - or we are commonly engaging in debates about the ideal mature cow weight of our stock - yet on rare occasions do we see people provide actual frame score data or use that information as a selection tool.
Many of these comments are relating to genetics from animals that are being brought in from overseas not always being "suitable" to our industry due to their size.
But how often do we see listed frame scores next to the singular photo we are buying semen from, or if we do it could simply be a yearling score and they are now a five-year-old sire.
Do you ask for it when it is not listed from your semen rep, or are you just upset when you have used your next pick sire and the progeny aren't hitting the mark size wise?
Everyone's ideal frame score varies, and it is age dependent, and as I bring up this conversation with other colleagues or producers I hear a magnitude of other characteristics or factors that can impact frame score including environment, type and breed.
Within a cattle show ring, I have commented that animals are "larger framed" and therefore haven't suited me personally due to my preference for a moderate maturity pattern animal. However, this is for many the desirable size and it is just one person's opinion.
While our ideal size of an animal might vary based on our systems, I guess we also have such different perceptions on what a frame score six or seven looks like.
Visually guessing and saying "that is a frame seven" is subjective, and it is clearly very different to if you've stood there, measured the hip height and identified the exact score - then it is objective.
This relates to a column I have previously written - if we don't test we don't know.
And further if we don't have all the information required to make an evidence based decision, are we also working towards our key objectives or simply guessing?
In a large scale operation, this would not be viable. I mean getting the tape measure out for 50 or 100 or so replacement heifers would be laborious.
Interestingly the only other recent time I have seen frame scoring pop up outside of the stud world of late was during the NSW Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial.
In discussions with entrants, some queried why they received a frame score point allocation on induction while others have said it makes sense in terms of the feedlot having set specifications or a guide to the 'size' of animal they believe will have the potential to put on and carry the most amount of weight, yield highly and in-turn be the most profitable for the processors.
Comparing this commercial aspect to show steers, there is again a variance in ideal frame scores dependent on target market.
A quick Google search on the economic importance of frame score says it is a predictor of maturity, in terms of when an animal will achieve a finished slaughter weight.
It has no direct relationship with reproductive performance, growth rate or carcase quality. But research says indirectly, it may affect all these traits. Why? Because these commonly associate with the maturity pattern of the animal.
It makes me think what other tests are or were out there that are not being conducted as common practice anymore?
It brings to mind my trip in 2016 to New Zealand as part of the Angus Australia and Angus Youth TransTasman Exchange scholarship.
At one well-known stud I visited and worked at, I spent days assisting in "Blocky" testing their sale bulls ahead of the physical auction day.
More commonly known as a serving competence test and libido test, to my amazement there were sire prospects that had no interest in actually joining.
Now this is one that is rare or has the probability of not continuing due to potential animal welfare standards and safety of the female being used.
Again this interests me in terms of how do we know the bull being put out with cows has the want or capacity to serve females. Unless we get out there and watch them do the deed, we wouldn't know if they are in fact working or not, until we get a negative pregnancy test.
I guess the way around this for many is to use have backups or use a syndicate of sires in their joining regime.
I might be only scratching the surface of some tests that haven't lasted the test of time, going from common practice to a rarity, but I guess it makes me wonder have we lost some that we should be doing? Or as industry evolves is it fair that they have fallen to the wayside?
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