Maternal Traits in Windy Bar Bulls

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When we talk about maternal strength, we are not referring to a high milk EPD. The milk EPD tells you virtually nothing about maternal strength. We use maternal strength to refer to animals that have the ability to calve early in the calving season, raise a big soggy calf, rebreed on time, and then do that over and over again, year after year. Maternal strength is not just in the genes of cows. It is in the genes of bulls too.

Leonid of Wye is an example of maternal strength in a bull. Leonid is known for the productivity and longevity of his daughters. In my opinion, Leonid is one of the greatest bulls ever bred at the Wye Plantation. Leonid was born on March 15, 1981. He had a birthweight of 84 pounds. His adjusted weaning weight was 693 pounds, with a ratio of 118%. At weaning, his dam weighed 1,254 pounds. Leonid had an adjusted yearling weight of 1,248 pounds, with a ratio of 111%.

When you look at the cows in Leonid's ancestry (see below), it’s easy to see why he is such a great maternal sire. First, the dam of Leonid, Leah of Wye, weaned 15 calves in the Wye herd at an average ratio of 106%. Going back one more generation is the dam of Leah, Luria of Wye. Luria of Wye is also a Pathfinder cow and weaned 10 calves in the Wye herd at an average ratio of 105%.

On the topside of Leonid's pedigree is Leonid's paternal grandam, Phillina of Wye. Phillina is also an example of maternal strength. She weaned 15 calves in the Wye herd at an average ratio of 101%.

Lenoid of Wye

But the greatest cows in Leonid's ancestry may be three of his four great grandams: Clarice of Wye, Pandora of Wye and Colleen of Wye. Each of these cows is on the list of cows known as Wye's Mighty Seven. Those seven cows were at one time the leading cows at the Wye Plantation in pounds of progeny weaned. Clarice was number five out of the seven cows on the list. She weaned 15 calves in the Wye herd for a total weight of 8,167 pounds. That's an average weight per calf of almost 545 pounds. That's especially impressive considering Clarice was born in 1955. Next, look at Pandora and Colleen. Pandora is number six of Wye's Mighty Seven. Pandora weaned 16 calves in the Wye herd for a total weight of 8,093 pounds. Colleen is number seven on the list. She weaned 15 calves in the Wye herd for a total weight of 7,969 pounds.

Other Bulls in Lenoid's Pedigree

Lenoid's Pedigree Lenoid's Pedigree

As birthdates of these bulls demonstrate, sometimes “old” genetics are still very good genetics. This is especially true for maternal traits, like longevity, disease resistance and hardiness.

Although maternal strength has been out of fashion during the growth EPD fad, it is making a come back. In the 2006 Wye Sale, a Favour of Wye son out of a Leonid Pathfinder daughter topped the sale at $14,500. The Leonid daughter was 15 years old and still producing. Also, four embryos out of a flush of the same Leonid daughter sold for $3,000 per embryo.

Leonid was the top-selling bull in the 1982 Wye Sale, selling for $16,500. Back then, that was a handsome sum to pay for a bull. Now that we have seen the maternal strength in Leonid’s pedigree and analyzed the economic value of maternal strength, it is much easier to understand why someone would pay $16,500 for a bull like Leonid. We have about 45 straws of Leonid semen remaining, and plan on using a few straws every year.

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