- Lora Thorson
Bull Sale Development Program
On November 19, 2022, Hollow Top Angus will have its initial live production auction in Ramsay, MT. The sale will feature approximately 100, 20-month PAP-tested black Angus bulls and 20 bred heifers. At Hollow Top, we are excited about this sale because it is our first sale that includes multiple progeny from the bloodlines that constitute the core of our current genetic program. This email describes our breeding objectives; the next email will show selected prospects from the sale and discuss how they reflect these objectives.
The Hollow Top bull development program has several specific goals. The first is maximum survivability of calves at calving. The calves are born at about 5800 ft at the foot of the Tobacco Root mountains and winters can be very rough. We started calving in January, but after a couple of tough “learning” years, we moved to mid-March. This does not eliminate weather as a risk, but it helps. The flip side, however, is the calves are a full 2-3 months younger and smaller than their counterparts at other ranches. We do not try to make up for the smaller weights through extra or richer food. Rather we follow a more patient program as described below.
Phenotype is a key trait for us. To us, it means the bulls should be moderate framed and look like bulls. They must be well muscled, deep from top to bottom, and thick from side to side. Their shoulders should express power and their rear-ends must be symmetrical and thick as well. Next comes docility. In short, we won’t stand for cantankerous bulls. I am an “elderly” fellow who has strongly embraced “structural titanium”, and this is a family operation where there are lots of youngsters running around “helping” with feeding and other chores. An ill-tempered bull detracts from the fun and leaves quickly.
We place some limited emphasis on genomic quality. Herd bulls (and our cows) must show good maternal character and good growth profiles. The bulls in the sales generally weigh from 75 – 85 pounds at birth, wean at about 620 pounds, have yearling weights at about 900 lbs. and we target weights of about 1500 lbs. at sale time. Our yearling weights are a little lighter than average because of their age and our feeding program. When the bulls are weaned, they go to our development center where they are fed grass and about 2 lbs. per day of energy and protein pellets until they are about 17 months of age. Our thought here is to let the bulls’ soft tissues – ligaments, tendons, and muscles — mature and gain strength before we put on the weight. The expectation is that this approach will improve longevity, strength, and the ability to survive and produce in rugged terrain.
PAP and feet quality are also integral parts of our program. The bulls and heifers in the sale are PAP-tested at 5500 feet. PAP scores will be presented on our web, catalog, and in future emails. Feet are reviewed constantly and bulls with feet issues are culled. To illustrate the foot quality of our bulls, we have initiated a process whereby all bulls’ feet are pictured twice. This year the first picture set was taken in early March in conjunction with a foot scoring exercise conducted by Taylre Zemple and her team at Montana State University. Both sets of pictures along with videos will be available for review on our website, http://www.hollowtopangus.com.
The most prominent sires of the bulls in the sale are:
Sitz Profound 680G (19392993)
HA Cow Man 7939 (19151453)
Poss Rawhide (19416968)
Sitz Stellar 726D (18397542)
Sitz Accomplishment 720F (19078208)
KG Justified 3023 (17707279)
HA Outside Two 7891 (18918582)