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MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES

MOB BREEDING FOR HOLISTIC BREEDING OF LIVESTOCK

Mob Breeding is basically natural selection within an artificial framework (livestock manager is the predator, presence of minimal supplementation, managed adaptive grazing, need for a marketable product, and so on).  With a management philosophy that treats all the animals in the herd in much the same way (a short breeding season synched with good availability of forage at birthing), INADEQUTE animals are easy to identify and cull, ACCEPTABLE animals are easy to identify and multiply.  Mob Breeding is not breeding FOR animal growth.  It is breeding AGAINST poor growth.  Avoiding genetics that cause weakness.  Continuing to raise the average of our flock.

 

By using "Multi-Sire, Mob Breeding", we create a situation with competition between rams.  Rams with lower libido, sub-fertile rams, and rams with hidden structural faults (no, managers can not see EVERYTHING while choosing the breeding rams) will on average have a lower number of offspring than more functional rams.  And by keeping a reasonably short breeding season, it means that all lambs went through the same weather, same forage quality, and so on, so that at the SAME AGE, comparisons between individuals are meaningful for selection criteria at weaning time.  

 

The effects of Mob Breeding are incremental, and additive - the longer you do it, the better it gets.  One little victory stacked upon the other.  Every year the breeding rams will have a higher percentage genetics from proven ewes.

Is Mob Breeding the same as Line Breeding? 

Mob breeding is a form of Line Breeding.  But Mob Breeding focuses on the needs of the entire flock, while Line Breeding focuses on individual animal results.  In Mob Breeding, there is no obsession with pedigree.  While both Line Breeding and Mob Breeding are narrowing the gene pool on purpose, the difference is in the focus.  In Mob Breeding, the only genes that go extinct are those the breeder wants out.  The Mob Breeder does not pretend or believe that he/she knows the best animals, but is focused on continuously removing the worst animals.  One can Line Breed in many ways, with or without focus on health and reproduction.  But in Mob Breeding, health and reproductive fertility are the center focus before individual animal production is even considered.  Mob Breeding is multiplying genes that cause animals to function.  Line Breeding multiplies genes from animals the manager believes are good.  Some managers get close, but no one guesses as good as the results of natural selection.  Mob Breeding concentrates the NOT BAD genetics without concentrating anything else.  Mob Breeding simply looks at quality from a different angle: we want the animals to be healthy, fertile, and self-propelled as a base line before we consider the individual production.  Of course, individual production will eventually improve in Mob Breeding too, but typically from a point of less input in terms of labor.

 

RAM SELECTION:

We select breeding rams from our flock that are from ewes that:

  • Have lambed as yearlings

  • Have raised ACCEPTABLE twins every year from their second year

  • Have lambed minimum of three times

  • Have never needed individual help lambing

From this group of ram lambs, future potential breeding rams are selected on weaning day by:​

  • Remove any rams that don't meet breed standard

  • Remove any rams below the flock average.

  • Remove any rams not born in the first or second breeding cycle (preference given to first cycle).

  • ​Ram lambs not retained for breeding can be sold as market lambs.

  • Ram lambs selected for potential breeding stock will be monitored post weaning for continued growth and development on pasture throughout the summer and early fall.

  • Ram lambs will be introduced to ewes at approximately 7 months of age in multi-sire, mob-breeding groups (1:20 target ratio) at the appropriate date (late fall) to match lambing to forage availability in the spring.

  • Post breeding season - rams used for breeding can later be sold as breeding rams to our customer for providing superior genetics in a forage based system.

  • The new crop of ram lambs will be better on average than the previous years breeding mob, continuing to raise the average reproductive functionality of the flock.

  • At 7 months of age, a ram can do what a grown ram does.  Most rams LOOK better at 19 months than at 7 months of age, but this does EXACTLY NOTHING for the genetics of the ram.  

EWE SELECTION:

  • Each year, eliminate any ewe that fails to lamb trouble-free or wean a lamb. 

  • Select replacement ewe lambs from ewes that breed early in the breeding season and lamb unassisted.

  • Keep the bred ewe lambs that breed early in the breeding season and lamb unassisted.

  • The marginal effect of culling the VERY WORSE ewe is much higher than the SECOND or THIRD worst (and so on).  The law of diminishing returns comes into play: endless improvement, but at a slower and slower rate.  The more replacements you have, the faster you can cull the difficult ewes.  The daughter of a difficult ewe MAY become a difficult ewe, but a difficult ewe IS a difficult ewe.  Culling a ewe that is already proven difficult gives the best marginal effect of all your breeding decisions.  

Facebook Group discussing these principles

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2714426338868354/?mibextid=c7yyfP

YouTube Video introducing context to these principles

https://youtu.be/HvnEPP-KDHQ?si=vx1jqrPdFJ0wOHzM

FLOCK 54 CERTIFICATION

Dairy House Farms uses Flock54 for parentage and disease resistance testing for our registered flocks.  Through this effort, we have become Flock54 Certified.  Visit their website to learn more:

SEEDSTOCK PRODUCERS use DNA to market rams based on disease resistance, carcass traits and fertility. You can do the same. Get Flock54℠ Certified

PRODUCERS across the country are collecting DNA from their flock to identify disease traits, increase fertility and twinning, and determine parentage. You can do the same.

https://www.flock54.com/

KIT PHARO PHILOSOPHIES

Although focused on cattle operations, we agree and stive to model our sheep operations similar to Kit Pharo's management philosophies:

1. Honesty and integrity will not be compromised.

 

2. We manage our natural resources in a sustainable manner.

 

3. The breed of cattle is not nearly as important as the selection criteria that comprise the breeding program.

 

4. Our cows are run in a real-world environment as tough as—or tougher than—the environment most commercial cows are run in.

 

5. We let the environment sort out the good cows, and show absolutely no sympathy for open, late, or dry cows.

 

6. We will never make excuses for a cow. A cow must produce and wean a calf every year to remain in the herd.

7. Our management practices apply sufficient pressure on the cowherd to force out the unadapted and infertile animals—at least 10% each year, if we’re doing it right.

 

8. In addition to growth and performance, we select for vital economic traits such as fertility, calving ease, moderate cow size, fleshing ability, structural correctness, disposition, and longevity. We have also started keeping data on other heritable traits, such as fly resistance and preputial prolapse.

 

9. Replacement heifers are developed on a low-cost, forage based diet with minimum supplements. We want only the most efficient and most adapted heifers to make it into our cowherd.

 

10. A bull calf must be born unassisted from a fault-free cow that has never missed a breeding opportunity, to make it into one of our prestigious bull sales.

https://pharocattle.com/

SOIL HEALTH PRINCIPLES GUIDING OUR DECISION-MAKING FRAMEWORK

We believe that soil health is critical to the success and quality of our operations. 

UNDERSTANDING AG is great resource in this area.

6 PRINCIPLES OF SOIL HEALTH

Know Your Context

Cover the Soil

Minimize Soil Disturbance

Increase Diversity

Maintain Continuous Living Plants/Roots

Integrate Livestock

3 RULES OF ADAPTIVE STEWARDSHIP

Compounding

Diversity

Disruption

4 ECOSYSTEM PROCESSES

Energy Flow

Water Cycle

Mineral Cycle

Diversity

https://understandingag.com/

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