What Makes A Powerline Bull

“If you don’t know what your competitive advantage is, you don’t have one” — Jack Welch, former CEO of GE.

Powerline’s competitive advantage is DISCIPLINE.  We apply our standards without exception  to every single bull that we evaluate and market.  If they don’t meet our standards, they become steers.

  • It doesn’t matter if they have the highest daily gain. If they have a nasty attitude – steer!
  • It doesn’t matter if they have the biggest rib eye.  If they have poor feet —  steer!
  • It doesn’t matter if they have awesome eye appeal.  If they don’t meet our growth rate standards – steer!
  • It doesn’t matter if their dam was national champion.  If they aren’t sound —  steer!

In truth, we end up with a very good pen of steers.  In 2011, our “steer pen” posted the following performance:  66% Choice;  2.8 average Yield Grade; 14.3 average REA; .48 average Backfat; 898-lb average carcass weight.

We cull ruthlessly, but nobody can build a bull program simply by culling from the bottom.  One must apply the same discipline by building on the top, which Powerline does with profit-proven ABS sires.  We carefully select sires from the Angus, SimAngus and Simmental line-up at ABS to shift the genetic curve in the desired direction.  Of course we test young sires in the program.  This is essential to long-term progress.  But the backbone of our program rests on proven sires.

Why SimAngus?
There’s a reason we selected Angus and Simmental to create our Powerline Hybrid.  Consider how these two breeds stacked up in the Germ Plasm Evaluation Project at the Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, NE.

Economic Trait

Simmental Rank Among Continental Breeds

Angus Rank Among British Breeds

Calving Ease 

First (tie)

First

Weaning Weight

First

First

Percent Choice

First

Second

Carcass Weight

First

First

Post Wean Gain

First

First

Pounds of Retail Product

Second

First

Shear Force (tenderness)

First (tie) 

First

Feed Efficiency by Wt. Gain

First

First

Feed Efficiency by Marbling

First

First

Feed Eff. by Retail Product

First

Second

Feed Eff. by Days Fed

Second

Second

Percent Puberty

First

Second

Percent Pregnancy

Second

Third

Maternal Calving Ease

First

Second

Maternal Weaning Weight

Second

First

Another compelling reason to build a SimAngus hybrid is, quite simply, to produce feeder calves that our relationship feedyards want to buy and feed!  The Power Genetics feedlots have fed well over 2 million cattle for their current grid marketing program and have made clear that they prefer SimAngus feeder calves.  Enough said!

Beyond selecting the “right” breeds, we carefully select the right sires within each breed to build genetic merit for PROFITABILITY.

The Angus sires are selected from the top end of ABS’ unique and exclusive Circle A Sire Alliance.  For more than a decade, ABS Global has been conducting this unique progeny test where Angus sires are compared based upon Real World Data™ that results in a genuine Profit EPD.  All factors are considered, including: 1) Calving ease, 2) Pre-weaning performance, 3) Feedlot gain and feed efficiency, and 4) Carcass yield and quality.  Tenderness is measured also, though it does not enter the profit equation (yet).

Simmental and SimAngus sires are selected based on data generated in the central Powerline Bull Test Centers as well as designed progeny tests that produce feeder steers that are fed and harvested within the system.  We also appreciate and utilize the data generated by the American Simmental Association through its progeny-test-for-profit project at the University of Illinois.

Powerline utilizes a GrowSafe system to measure feed efficiency on a portion of the bulls consigned to the Arapahoe, NE bull development facility.  This allows more accurate identification of young sires with potential to move the curve, and also beefs up the genetic evaluation database which, in turn, allows Powerline Multipliers to more effectively stack pedigrees for what matters – money.

Genetic Evaluation – Where do Powerline EPDs come from?
Powerline computes EPDs and index values from its own database.  Similar to a breed association, each animal in the database is uniquely identified and has a pedigree structure.  Weights and measures are compiled in the database similar to the way a breed association would compile such information.  The mathematical computation methods used to calculate EPDs are well established.  Powerline utilizes these methods just like breed associations do.

So why does Powerline compute its own EPDs?  Why not use breed association EPDs?
Powerline elected to build its own database and compute its own EPDs and indexes to take full advantage of the unique data available through Powerline’s centralized bull test centers, and to fully utilize the huge volume of feedlot performance and carcass data that is available through the PG feedlots.

Breed associations do a fine job of computing EPDs from the data they have available.  The primary source of data is seedstock producers who generally do not measure exactly the same traits that commercial beef producers measure.  Typical seedstock traits (such as Yearling Weight) are proxies for the Economically Relevant Traits (ERTs) that matter most to commercial producers, cattle feeders and packers.

For instance, one might ask:  What is the economic relevance of yearling weight (YW)?  What makes an animal’s weight on its first birthday economically important?  In reality, there is nothing in particular that makes YW economically important.  It is simply a convenient benchmark for weighing animals and computing differences in genetic merit for growth rate to 365-days of age.  It is not unimportant, because it is related to growth rate, but it does not directly relate to beef production economics.

From an economic perspective, what we really want to know is: 1) how fast will they grow in the feedlot?, 2) how much feed is required per pound of gain?, 3) what is their optimum finish weight?, and 4) what is their carcass quality and yield when they reach their optimum finish weight?  These are ECONOMICALLY RELEVANT traits.

Because Powerline has access to data on Economically Relevant Traits such as those cited above, we can compute EPDs that more accurately depict PROFIT differences.  That’s why we do our own internal genetic evaluation rather than relying entirely on breed association data.