Bovine Engineering & Consulting - Gearld Fry


Scientific Cattle Breeding
by Gearld Fry
The dictionary defines "science" as a "a branch of the study concerned with observations and classifications of facts, and especially the establishment of verifiable general laws."

The breeding of cattle on a worldwide basis swings like a pendulum from one extreme to another.  In 1880, Texas Longhorns were rounded up by the millions.  Certain bulls were castrated and others were retained to breed the herd.  If a bull calf was fleshy, muscular and appeared to be of a good quality, he was castrated to develop into a stable steer.  If the bull was of low quality, poor doing or small he was left as a bull, later to be a herd sire.  This early Texas practice, described in the book, "the Longhorns" (1939), was popular when the West was unfenced and millions of cattle reproduce with no economic thought of insurance, interests or taxes.

The totally opposite example happened in Germany starting right after World War II.

A country devastated by military destruction was ravaged by disease.  People had TB and so did the cattle.  Foot and mouth was only one of numerous problems with no CNN reporters present or even caring.  The German national cattle herds had been consumed by starving soldiers and surviving residents.  Very few livestock farms remained.

Gen. George Marshall, under directives of Harry Truman, developed and implemented the "Marshall Plan" designed to use USA funds leadership to rebuild Germany and the other European countries destroyed during the war. The USA is only world power that is attacked by another country, kicks butt, then returns to rebuild that defeated country.

Heino Messerschmidt was the German Under Secretary of Agriculture.  At Neuestadt (new town) Aisch (name of river) the Besammungs Verein genetic program was developed.  The superior genetics of Germany and Europe were pooled for early artificial insemination use.  There was an all out program developed to eliminate disease transmitted by natural copulation, and provided the highest scientific proven genetics to poor and starving for people.  Semen was processed on beef cattle, draft cattle, milk cattle, milk goats, milk sheep and swine.  At this time artificial insemination was not a frozen product but hot.  There were no plastic AI sleeves.

Each mating was important, the very important!  Families were living on milk and meat.  Disease could not be tolerated anymore.  The war was over.  Time to rebuild.

Heino Messerschmidt was Cambridge educated.  His job was to re-establish the German genetics, then develop them to be the greatest in the world.  The mentality of the German people was to do whatever it took, pay whatever price it cost and become the best.

Every male admitted at Besammungs Verein was performance tested.  Only one in thousands became a usable semen sire.  It became a regulation that no one could own their own bull.  No one swayed by personal feelings, a sentimental love or even economics was allowed to own a male or to breed anything except government proven, tested males from. All breeding was AI.  A beef specialist individually inspected every cow and approved each mating with careful calculations.  It was a regulation.  (In Germany a regulation is as good as a law).

World renowned cattle scientist Jan Bonsma of Pretoria, South Africa was associated with Messerschmidt to develop the ultimate performance guidelines.  He left no stone unturned to define the superior genetics.

The Besammungs Verein stud farm made the world's fastest genetic advances.  They have now been testing for over 50 years.  (The Gelbveih breed is one result of their efforts).  It is now the world's largest semen center.  The first calf born from frozen embryo technology was born at Besammungs Verein.

From a meek beginning, German farmers with one to five cows have developed sires of world-renowned quality.  During Messerschmidt’s lifetime, genetic improvement happened so fast semen and sires have been exported to North America and worldwide for herd improvement.  Today the livestock quality in Germany is of world leadership vintage and superior to genetics from areas as if never touched by the ravages of war.

What was the success formula?

1.  Identify superior sires.
2.  Performance test large numbers.
3.  Do not allow natural service breeding to inferior untested bulls.
4.  Do 100 percent AI with superior proven genetics.
5.  Provide professional assistance for every mating.
6. Create genetics so superior the world wants them.

Does this sound like some things that need’s to happen in America?
Have we digressed genetically to the point of no return with our millions of cows?
Dr. Jan Bonsma said so in 1968 that we had reached that point.
We are in a very technical age and believe DNA, Ultrasound, EPDs and Universities have the answer.
What about the genetics our fore fathers had and knew how to use them with their knowledge & wisdom?
Watch the gene transfer over the next few years. We have GMO grains.
Will we have TM GMO cattle? My guess is yes!

God gave you and me a brain for our good! Let us use it!