Line One Herefords

In Montana during the early 1800's, 55,000 acres were set aside as Fort Keogh, an Army Outpost, later a remount facility for breeding Cavalry horses and finally as an agriculture research service to assist the agricultural industry in producing food supply. It was at this Miles City station in 1934 that a selection program commenced and the development of inbreeding several different lines with selection emphasis on yearling weights. Of all the different lines developed at Miles City, the most prominent to date has been the Line Ones. The foundation cows for the Line Ones traced back to stock purchased in 1926 from George M. Miles. The bulls used in the development of the line were half-brothers, Advance Domino 20 and Advance Domino 54, purchased in Colorado. These two foundation sires were strong in Prince Domino blood. Although the Line One cattle were developed at the Miles City station and they have remained a prime source of seedstock, a number of other breeders drew heavily on Line One sires starting in the 1940's, and these breeders became suppliers of the Line One seedstock in the early 1970's.

My interest in the Line-One cattle from the United States began many years ago. I often heard my father-in-law, Jimmy Basson, speak of their uniformity of type and good maternal traits and I wished for an opportunity to see them for myself. During a visit to the Denver Stock Show in 2005 I made contact with Jack Holden who was willing to let me buy flushes from some of his top cows. Later on in September I flew out to Montana to view the Holden cattle at Valier and also managed to view some of Mark Cooper’s cattle at Willow Creek. The result of my visit was 11 calves from the two flushes that were born here during December 2006 and were the beginning of my Ervie L1 Hereford Herd.

A further two importations since then has added another 33 Line One calves and we are now in the position to maintain a nucleus herd of pure-import-bred Line One cattle and to use L1 bulls from these to expand their valued genetics across our existing Ervie cow herd.

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Ervie Line One Herefords

Selecting for Genetic Improvement & Breeding for Profit.

Ervie Replacement Selection Priorities.

i.   Selection for high yearling growth.

It is widely acknowledged in today’s beef industry that rapid natural growth in young stock allowing them to reach abattoir specification under 2 years old without expensive inputs is the key to achieving a profit margin in a beef finishing enterprise. This is my main reason for choosing Line One Hereford genetics and making high yearling growth our number one stock bull selection priority.


ii.   Good conformation and muscle definition without being extreme.

Whilst “E” grades at the abattoir might at first appear to be the target we should all be aiming for, there are good reasons why I select stock bulls with smoother muscle definition. Using sires who produce “E” grade type calves would tend to increase calving difficulty and would require higher calving supervision, create larger veterinary bills, higher calf mortality and subsequently reduced fertility in the cow. The result is less calves per 365 days along with higher production costs. It is also recognised that beef  females with extreme muscle tend to have reduced milk production leading to poorer yearling growth from their calves.

For these reasons I  select stock bulls who are long bodied  with good structure and a smooth muscle pattern.


iii.   Medium sized mature cows for optimum efficiency.

With most UK abattoir carcass specifications 280-380kg or similar, it has become obvious to many beef breeders that medium sized cows are the most efficient and leave more profit. It is completely unnecessary to breed from cattle in excess of 1000kg to achieve this specification. Cows should produce a live calf without difficulty every 365 days and grow that calf rapidly on a grass/forage diet until weaning. Extremely large bulls tend to produce larger than average calves with associated calving difficulties in turn leading reduced fertility. Besides higher calf mortality and higher vet bills, larger cows are also more expensive to feed. Breeding with large bulls and cows tends to achieve fewer live calves born within the 365 days combined with higher feed demands, resulting in reduced profit.

For this reason I select stock bulls for medium mature size.


iv.   Selection for locomotion, milk yield, high fertility, and docility.

All of these traits are important in the stock bulls and replacement females we select. To be efficient and produce top calves over a long life it is vitally important that cows have good feet and leg structure. A cow must not have a pendulous udder and/or large teats but she must produce enough milk to allow her calf to achieve its highest natural growth potential. High fertility is achieved through balanced selection for milk production, muscle definition and calving ease. Research in the USA has shown that bulls with large, sound, even testicles will tend to sire females with large productive ovaries. Thus highly fertile bulls will improve the fertility in their female progeny. Our replacements must be of a docile nature reducing stress for both man and beast and allowing the calves to thrive in peace.

For these reasons I select stock bulls with excellent feet & leg structure, and with excellent testicle development from cows with excellent udders and teats. All must have good temperament.


v.   Other selection traits

I believe the aforementioned selection criteria to be the main ones affecting profit in any commercial beef producing enterprise and most certainly in our own herd. Other traits like medium to dark hair colour, markings and breed character are still important to me to satisfy my eye, but have a lesser economic contribution in the commercial beef enterprises of my bull customers.

For this reason I select stock bulls on these traits only after they have excelled in the more important profit affecting  traits.


vi.   Selection for the Show Ring

I have moved away from showing our cattle because in order to compete seriously we have to feed the cattle on a plane of nutrition which masks their true genetic merit and may also be detrimental to their long-term breeding performance. With the performance data muddled it confuses both my own and my commercial bull customers selection using what we regard as the profit affecting traits. Winning a major show championship will satisfy my pride but it would offer no herd performance improvement.

For this reason I do not select stock bulls on show ring merit.

These are my stock  selection criteria.

It’s why I call the bulls  “L1 Achievers”.


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