The longest running non-traditional program we have is our Artificial
Insemination (AI) program. The JHL has utilized AI on replacement heifers
for more than fifteen years. Between the quality of many of the resulting
progeny and the ability to track sires, by 1999 we were convinced to begin
using A.I. on a segment of our mature cows and have since migrated to AI
for almost the entire cow herd. All cows are individually mated based on
their track records in providing replacement heifers and on the rail.
Proven sire progeny are continually compared to our pasture bred calves
in categories from heifer replacements to hanging carcasses. We are
continually sampling bulls, relying more heavily on bulls that have proven
themselves in our herd.
Even though bulls are necessary and an individual bull, with AI, can
have an immediate impact on a large number of animals, the JHL believes
that the cow is the
cornerstone of beef production. Probably the most critical time and place
in the entire cattle industry is when females are selected to replace or
build a herd. The potential lifespan of a cow positions her to provide
consistent trans-generational genetic input. The major cost in the industry
is the cost of developing and maintaining a cow. Choices made in cow selection
influence a herd's personality, profitability and product for years.
Tracking commercial cows has been pretty much uncharted territory.
Many producers collect data on their cows and calves. This process is
the most time consuming part of "knowing" cows. Usually
frustrating, data collection takes patience and truly unique skills in two
entirely different arenas - one is collecting the data live at chuteside
and the other is deciphering it at the desk.
Some producers have also gone the next step and summarized their data.
There are a number of commercial software programs available to enable data
collection, provide summaries and some specific animal analysis.
Unfortunately both the data collection and the software provided
summaries are all for nothing UNLESS the information enables one to make
management decisions. Data can enable a better understanding of the cows in
the herd. All the time and energy spent on data collection is worthless
unless the data can be formatted to provide useful decision-making tools.
The JHL has used skills brought from the corporate world to take full
advantage of the data gathered.
Until recently about the only hard numbers or tools available to
cow/calf operations were calving percentages and weaning weights. Today the
opportunity exists, as never before, to know what is being produced and how
to manage it. One of the world's most renowned business thinkers, Peter
Drucker, has stated: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage
it." There are now many new ways for the producer to measure their
The cattle industry is becoming vertically integrated - except for the
producer,. Yet the producer is making the genetic (breeding) decisions that
affect the potential in the entire process including what ends up on our
Shouldn't it be critical that producers know their herd, what genetics
they are adding, and the resulting impacts on their operation and end
product? This is why measurements have been incorporated into the JHL
program and why this website was developed.