Fink Polled Hereford breeding program | TSLN.com

Fink Polled Hereford breeding program

Loretta Sorensen

Photo by Loretta SorensenMike Fink is using embryo transplanting and a cooperator herd to enlarge the purebred Hereford herd of cattle his father began developing in the 1970s. He is pictured with his wife Valerie Marsh and sons Owen (bottom left) and Oscar.

Increased demand for Hereford genetics and the cost effectiveness of embryo transplanting has led purebred Polled Hereford producer Mike Fink of Bridgewater, SD to utilize a cooperator herd to increase the size of his own purebred herd.

Marvin Fink, Mike’s father, began developing Fink Polled Herefords in the 1970s while he was actively farming. The herd genetics are rooted in the Remitall Cattle Company, a Canadian operation which was one of the premier breeders of Hereford genetics in the world and has been said to have had “one of the greatest Hereford herds of all time.”

“Louis Latimer started the herd many years ago,” Mike says. “More recently his sons, Gary and Brian, were the driving forces in the company. They’ve always been advocates of line breeding to add consistency to their cattle. The genetics in their large Hereford herd of high performance cattle seem to do well in our Midwest environment. We have always liked the style of their cattle, especially the mothers. Their herd was recently dispersed but I know the Latimers will remain as driving forces in the purebred cattle business. The Remitall name won’t soon disappear from the Hereford breed book.”

In 1996, Marvin sold most of his purebred Herefords at a dispersal sale in conjunction with his retirement from farming. However, Mike retained some of the best genetics in his small herd and began focusing on embryo transplant to improve quality.

“I grew up showing Herefords in 4-H and other venues,” Mike says. “We had approximately 100 purebred Hereford cows until dad sold out in 1996. We dabbled in a couple of other breeds – Salers and Red Angus, but Herefords were our bread and butter. We had some success showing, but producing quality cattle for the commercial operator has always been the main focus of our cattle operation.”

Extra bone and added capacity are two characteristics Mike believes translate into more productive cows and bigger calves at weaning. By focusing on these traits, the Finks are able to breed husky, early maturing bulls for their customers. The Finks have also given particular attention to carcass and $Profit Index EPDs when making their breeding decisions.

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“The American Hereford Association has developed three carcass EPDs, all of which are important to us,” Mike says, “fat, ribeye area and marbling. We try to make sure our bulls excel in all three of these traits, especially the ribeye. The Hereford $Profit Index EPDs are meant to identify the most profitable genetics for a number of production situations. There’s more information about these tools at the American Hereford Association at http://www.hereford.org.”

Mike, a Bridgewater lawyer with a fulltime law practice, has tried to keep the herd at a manageable size up until now. Cutting hay and working cattle is mostly accomplished on weekends.

“This year, when even thinking about cutting hay tended to trigger rain, it was quite a challenge to get anything put up right,” Mike says. “Since I have a fulltime ‘town job’ I have to do some things the opposite of what most producers consider normal.”

For example, feeding cows the majority of their ration in the morning, rather than at night, helps deter daytime calving. In synchronizing cows for breeding or embryo work, they attempt to schedule breeding, flushing and implantation on weekends.

“That’s all designed to limit conflict with the work schedule,” Mike says. “I’m not quite sure how a local judge might react if I made a Motion for Continuance on the basis of breeding season.”

Having developed a productive embryo transplant program, with several donor cows in the herd, Mike is now partnering with a local beef producer to implant embryos in commercial cows.

“A cooperator or multiplier herd is often used in an embryo transplant program,” Mike says. “Embryos from our purebred donor cows are implanted in the cooperator’s commercial cows. He cares for the recipient cows over winter and calves them out next year. This is our first attempt at using this method to enlarge our herd and improve our genetics. We’ve seen excellent demand for our bulls lately and I’m encouraged that industry wide we have seen a tremendous increase in demand for Hereford genetics.”

Mike says demand for Hereford cattle stems from the fact that commercial cow herds are predominantly black Angus based. A good cross is necessary to obtain hybrid vigor or heterosis in those black cows. Efficiencies found in today’s Hereford genetics make the breed a wise choice for the cross.

“Two recent studies, the Circle A Ranch Heterosis Project and the Harris Ranch Heterosis Project have shown us what we probably already knew,” Mike says. “It’s hard to beat a black baldie for efficiency and productivity. As a result, while America’s commercial cowherd significantly contracted again in 2008, Hereford registrations actually increased for that year. And, while use of A.I. by domestic commercial breeders continued to decline last year, Hereford semen sales increased more than eight percent.”

In coming years, Mike expects to enlarge his herd. In addition to continuing the tradition his father initiated, he looks forward to the rewards of producing high quality genetics.

“Hereford cattle have a wonderful disposition and the cows are really great to work with, especially at calving and breeding time. They seem to get under your skin,” Mike says. “I have a devotion to the breed and am glad to be involved in its improvement, even on a small scale. Our customers are paying more attention to the carcass and $Profit Index EPD numbers, but an attractive phenotype and in-herd performance still seem to drive the sale of our bulls. At the end of the day, our bull customers still sell their weaned calves at auction and by the pound. That reality is what drives our breeding program.”

Increased demand for Hereford genetics and the cost effectiveness of embryo transplanting has led purebred Polled Hereford producer Mike Fink of Bridgewater, SD to utilize a cooperator herd to increase the size of his own purebred herd.

Marvin Fink, Mike’s father, began developing Fink Polled Herefords in the 1970s while he was actively farming. The herd genetics are rooted in the Remitall Cattle Company, a Canadian operation which was one of the premier breeders of Hereford genetics in the world and has been said to have had “one of the greatest Hereford herds of all time.”

“Louis Latimer started the herd many years ago,” Mike says. “More recently his sons, Gary and Brian, were the driving forces in the company. They’ve always been advocates of line breeding to add consistency to their cattle. The genetics in their large Hereford herd of high performance cattle seem to do well in our Midwest environment. We have always liked the style of their cattle, especially the mothers. Their herd was recently dispersed but I know the Latimers will remain as driving forces in the purebred cattle business. The Remitall name won’t soon disappear from the Hereford breed book.”

In 1996, Marvin sold most of his purebred Herefords at a dispersal sale in conjunction with his retirement from farming. However, Mike retained some of the best genetics in his small herd and began focusing on embryo transplant to improve quality.

“I grew up showing Herefords in 4-H and other venues,” Mike says. “We had approximately 100 purebred Hereford cows until dad sold out in 1996. We dabbled in a couple of other breeds – Salers and Red Angus, but Herefords were our bread and butter. We had some success showing, but producing quality cattle for the commercial operator has always been the main focus of our cattle operation.”

Extra bone and added capacity are two characteristics Mike believes translate into more productive cows and bigger calves at weaning. By focusing on these traits, the Finks are able to breed husky, early maturing bulls for their customers. The Finks have also given particular attention to carcass and $Profit Index EPDs when making their breeding decisions.

“The American Hereford Association has developed three carcass EPDs, all of which are important to us,” Mike says, “fat, ribeye area and marbling. We try to make sure our bulls excel in all three of these traits, especially the ribeye. The Hereford $Profit Index EPDs are meant to identify the most profitable genetics for a number of production situations. There’s more information about these tools at the American Hereford Association at http://www.hereford.org.”

Mike, a Bridgewater lawyer with a fulltime law practice, has tried to keep the herd at a manageable size up until now. Cutting hay and working cattle is mostly accomplished on weekends.

“This year, when even thinking about cutting hay tended to trigger rain, it was quite a challenge to get anything put up right,” Mike says. “Since I have a fulltime ‘town job’ I have to do some things the opposite of what most producers consider normal.”

For example, feeding cows the majority of their ration in the morning, rather than at night, helps deter daytime calving. In synchronizing cows for breeding or embryo work, they attempt to schedule breeding, flushing and implantation on weekends.

“That’s all designed to limit conflict with the work schedule,” Mike says. “I’m not quite sure how a local judge might react if I made a Motion for Continuance on the basis of breeding season.”

Having developed a productive embryo transplant program, with several donor cows in the herd, Mike is now partnering with a local beef producer to implant embryos in commercial cows.

“A cooperator or multiplier herd is often used in an embryo transplant program,” Mike says. “Embryos from our purebred donor cows are implanted in the cooperator’s commercial cows. He cares for the recipient cows over winter and calves them out next year. This is our first attempt at using this method to enlarge our herd and improve our genetics. We’ve seen excellent demand for our bulls lately and I’m encouraged that industry wide we have seen a tremendous increase in demand for Hereford genetics.”

Mike says demand for Hereford cattle stems from the fact that commercial cow herds are predominantly black Angus based. A good cross is necessary to obtain hybrid vigor or heterosis in those black cows. Efficiencies found in today’s Hereford genetics make the breed a wise choice for the cross.

“Two recent studies, the Circle A Ranch Heterosis Project and the Harris Ranch Heterosis Project have shown us what we probably already knew,” Mike says. “It’s hard to beat a black baldie for efficiency and productivity. As a result, while America’s commercial cowherd significantly contracted again in 2008, Hereford registrations actually increased for that year. And, while use of A.I. by domestic commercial breeders continued to decline last year, Hereford semen sales increased more than eight percent.”

In coming years, Mike expects to enlarge his herd. In addition to continuing the tradition his father initiated, he looks forward to the rewards of producing high quality genetics.

“Hereford cattle have a wonderful disposition and the cows are really great to work with, especially at calving and breeding time. They seem to get under your skin,” Mike says. “I have a devotion to the breed and am glad to be involved in its improvement, even on a small scale. Our customers are paying more attention to the carcass and $Profit Index EPD numbers, but an attractive phenotype and in-herd performance still seem to drive the sale of our bulls. At the end of the day, our bull customers still sell their weaned calves at auction and by the pound. That reality is what drives our breeding program.”