Tips and Tricks for Researching Cattle

Brittany Pearce, Telpara Hills Brangus

If you are like our family, no breeding decision is made without doing our homework first.   We use every tool to find out as much information as possible in order to pair cattle, always striving to improve our herd.

Any decision you make as a stud breeder can affect your herd for generations.  It is worth the effort to get it right to both advance your herd and avoid disasters.

We’ve put together a few tips & tricks:

The best way to know, is to go.  There is no substitute for seeing an animal in the flesh.  Taking the time to inspect animals yourself is always a wise move.

  • Calves are the true test. Always take the opportunity to see the next generation. It is a window into the future of your herd.
  • Inspect the Dam, too. So much importance is placed on the sire, but no great animal was ever bred from a mediocre female.
  • Find every relative you can. Grandparents, siblings, etc.  They all paint a picture of the breeding potential of the animal, good or bad.
  • Bring your camera. Make sure to also take pictures of the nametag or brand to assist your memory.

    30r4 tag
    Tip: Include photos of tags or brands to refresh your memory

Get to know the breeder.  Ask yourself if they share the same breeding goals as you.  Do they have similar tastes in cattle? Does the direction of their programme inspire you? Do they give honest/accurate assessments of cattle? Do you trust that they will resolve any issues that arise if something were to go wrong?

Get on the Association Websites.  Check the Australian Brangus Cattle Association website.  Go to  Then choose “Animal Enquiry”.  Check EBVs, pedigree, progeny, etc.

If the animal is based in the USA, check the International Brangus Breeders website, paying particular attention to the animal’s Private Herd Number (PHN).  This is usually the last combination of numbers and letters in the animal’s name.  For example, if you are searching for Csonka of Brinks 30R4, typing in “30R4” will give you 23 entries whereas typing in “Csonka” will yield over 300.

While on the IBBA page for the animal check for:

  • EPD data. This is a similar system to Australian EBVs, but more accurate as there is much more data in the system.
  • Genetic defects. A green dot means they are cleared for that trait, red is they carry or are affected by the condition, and a yellow dot signals they still need to be tested.
  • You can click on any of the animals within the pedigree for more information.
  • Number of Calves. The number of calves the animal produced each year may indicate fertility or if the animal was being used in AI/ET.  If the animal is still young, test this with their sire and dam.
  • Names of Calves. Look for notable progeny. A tip is to look for bulls that have been given a special name.  Most bulls in the major herds will be given their sire’s name unless they are chosen to lead a sale. It is a good trick to find if the sire can breed good bulls.
  • See who owns the animal and if they have a separate website or facebook page where you can find even more information.

Find Videos on YouTube.  Many overseas ranches will video their cattle and post them onto  This can be far more revealing than a photo alone and allows you to evaluate structure and other traits to a better degree. Make sure to look for videos of the sire, dam, siblings, calves, etc.

youtube brangus
Videos of overseas Brangus bulls and females can often be found online.

Google it.  A basic search of the web can uncover all sorts of things, so be prepared to filter through a lot of information.  If you include “Brangus” with the animal’s name it will help. Image searches frequently show photos of the wrong animal, so if you use this function make sure to go to the source website and check the caption.

Pictures can be deceiving.  While a beautiful photograph of a good animal can grab your attention, remember that is how the animal looked for a fraction of a second.  Just like people, some cattle are more photogenic than others.  Do not let this be your only evaluation tool.

Trust your instincts. Sometimes it is hard to put into words what you like or dislike about an animal, but your eye notices proportion, presence and style.  These can be real indicators of structure and health and should not be discounted. First impressions are normally accurate.

Ask someone who knows what they are talking about.  Plenty of people will give you their opinion (on everything).  Only trust those who you believe know good cattle and have proven that they can produce a good product themselves.

There is no better time than now.  We at Telpara Hills welcome visitors to come and see for themselves calves by the leading Brangus genetics from around the world and Australia.  Call us to make plans today.


Article published in the Fall 2016 The Brangus Brand Magazine

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