King of the Hill
I would like to give you some background on RICCO TWO 7C, his ancestors, his performance and since he is now 4 years old, his progeny. It is important not only to look at a herd sire but also from where he comes and what sort of genetic potential he passes on to his offspring. The whole point of a proper breeding program is to improve our herds. I am convinced that Ricco is one of these bulls that can help us reach the goal of improving our breed.
Ricco was born on the 15th of February 1993, near Edmonton, Alberta on the farm of Ian and Vreni Peden. The Peden's are breeders of high quality Original Braunvieh stock. They started with a small herd of cows purchased from me as I was still a partner in Starline Braunvieh of Claresholm, Alberta. When I saw this bull as a small calf, I noticed his potential and immediately wanted to purchase him. Vreni wanted to keep him until he was one year old to see how he would do. After this time I bought him. Ricco was an exceptionally beautiful calf. His sire pedigree is Rocky TWO 11A - Robi (Sargans) - Riss (Stein) - Nellon - Rolf (Luzern-Emmen), is a very famous bloodline. All the bulls from Robi on are Swiss. On his Sire's dam's side he goes back to Stardust 38R and the import bull Aron. Aron was a bull raised by my father, and the first import bull to Canada in 1969. Also on this part of the pedigree we have the bull, Bouncer, raised by myself in Canada and going back linebred to Dufur (Kusnacht). Dufur doesn't need a lot of explanation, as he probably influenced the beef characteristics of the Braunvieh breed in Switzerland through his son, Diamant, more than any other bull. The cow, Vreneli, in the pedigree goes back to Nero - Hosli - Furst - Rolf (Illgau) - Arto (Illgau). This also is an old, proven excellent bloodline.
On the Dam, Dixie TWO 2W's side we have Aron - Astor - Athlet again. This, as you can see, is linebreeding Aron. Aron's Dam, Enziana, gave 9000kg milk in the 8th lactation and had produced 10 calves by the age of 10, including 2 sets of twins. Enziana goes back to the bull Sebo, who was unknown in the Swiss breed at that time. Aron however is probably one of the most widespread Original Braunvieh bull in the world today. The cow, Dresden YJ 78L goes back over the import bull Dado - Donar (Walchwil) who goes back to Dufur. Dresden's Dam was the import cow Ursel (March) who goes back to the bulls Jupiter - Jorath - Rolf (Illgau). Jorath's characteristics, in the sixth generation of Ricco are still evident in him today.
The most amazing quality of Ricco is that in 205 days, walking beside his Dam and eating only grass and water was able to gain 772 lb., 892 lb. minus birth weight (351kg). This is a most unusual performance characteristic even in pure beef breeds let alone in a dual purpose breed like Original Braunvieh. This means that in the first 205 days, Ricco gained 3.77lb. (1.71kg) every day. In order to gain this much he must have had 17.1 litres of milk from his Dam per day, based on the fact that it takes 10 litres of milk to produce 1kg of meat. This sort of milk production in Canada under our conditions on grass and water is an exceptional feat. Ricco continued to out perform others even after being weaned. At one year of age, he weighed 1336lb. (607kg) which is a daily gain of 3.66lb (1.66kg). Very few bulls are capable of this sort of performance regardless of feed. Since this bull spent the first 13 months of his life on the Peden farm, I asked what was fed to him. Vreni said that he never had more than 10lb of 50% whole barley and 50% whole oats and all the hay he could eat. He wasn't pushed because we didn't want to burn him out, but rather use him to become a herd sire. It is also important to note that Ricco spent his entire life outdoors at temperatures as low as -53C (-60F).
It is easy to be impressed by his performance, but how did his predecessors do?
Ricco's Ancestor's Performance
His sire was born at 101lb. (46kg) and weighed 814lb(370kg)at 205 days and at 365 days he weighed 1225lb. (557kg). These are very good weights reached by only a select few. He was used in natural breeding only and matured at a weight of 2500lb (1136kg), all on grass and water. His Dam Dixie was born at 95lb. (43kg) and weighed 656lb. (298kg) at 205 days. At 365 days she weighed 924lb. (420kg). This is an exceptional result for a female. This cow was never force fed and matured at 1525lb. (693kg) on the range. All the weights mentioned here are based on actual weights taken on the farm at the times indicated. They are in no way "adjusted" based on a different weighing date. It is also important to note that Dixie did not only produce one exceptional calf but rather all her calves were above the farm average and much above the breed average in Canada. She has produced 4 bulls who weighed an average of 110lb. (50kg) at birth and 785lb (357kg) at 205 days and 1178lb (535kg) at 365 days. She also produced 2 females who averaged 106lb. (48kg) at birth and 693lb. (315kg) at 205 days and 973lb. (442kg) at 365 days. All of these are much above average for the breed.
Sunrise, Ricco's Sire's Dam, was born at 86lb. (39kg) and weighed 608lb. (276kg) at 205 days, and she weighed 916lb (416kg) at 365 days. She matured at 1600lb. (727kg). Sunrise is an exceptional producer of bull calves, she had 7. They averaged 97lb. (44kg) and at 205 days they weighed 742lb. (337kg) and at 365 days 1154lb. (524kg). From these number it is easy to see where Ricco's performance is coming from.
Dresden, Ricco's Dam's Dam, produced 4 bulls who averaged 101lb. (46kg) at birth and 706lb. (321kg) at 205 days and 1142lb. (519kg) at 365 days. This is very close to the others. She also produced 4 heifers who averaged 88lb. (40kg) at birth and 638lb. (290kg) at 205 days and 883lb. (401kg) at 365 days.
Ricco's Offspring Performance
As I mentioned earlier it is important to see how a bull performs, but more important is how he will pass on these characteristics based in a large part on the performance potential in his pedigree. In order to verify this we need to have performance data from his offspring. We currently have 10 male progeny of Ricco that have been tested. These 10 bulls had an average birth weight of 95 lb. (43kg) and a 205 day adjusted average weight of 641lb. (291kg) and a 365 day adjusted average weight of 1123lb. (509kg). This gives a weight per day of age average of 3.08lb. (1.40kg). What is equally important is that the female averages are very close to the male averages. This is important if we want to breed for beef characteristics. The average of the 4 females is 94lb. (43kg) birth weight, 599lb. (272kg) 205 day weight and 869lb. (394kg) yearling weight. This yields an average weight per day of age of 2.38lb. (1.08kg). The birth weight varied from a low of 65lb. (29kg) to a high of 120lb. (54kg), however they were all born unassisted. Not only the weight of a calf is important but also the build of the animal. All these animals are of normal build but longer than average. The key is that they are proportional. Ricco himself is not overly tall at 156.5cm and at 4 years of age is unlikely to grow much taller. He will fill out and grow in width and depth which is considered normal development.
Feedlot Performance Test Results
A desired beef breed characteristic is to have an animal that has a short time to
market and hence an early maturity. To this end we placed 3 of his best offspring into a
test along with 80 other of the best Original Braunvieh bulls and steers at the local
cattleland feedlot in Strathmore, Alberta where they were fed for a test duration of 126
days. The best full blood Original Braunvieh bull performer at this test with the highest
end of test weight was a son of Ricco, Ind 6F. The 3 Ricco bulls averaged 1229lb. (559kg)
yearling weight. This is an average weight per day of age of 3.37lb. (1.53kg). This is a
very good result and is only achieved by a select few. Unfortunately, no other sire had 3
bulls at the test, but regardless, Ricco's bulls had the highest average weight of the
fullblood bulls. These are the numbers from the end of the test:
We also fed 3 Ricco Steers that averaged 1122lb. (510kg) yearling weight which is an average weight per day of age of 3.07 lb. (1.39 kg). Ultrasound scans were performed on these animals as well and we found that they averaged at a marbling score of 4.9, grading Choice or Select only.
Feminine Offspring Potential
Many people ask whether it will be possible to get exceptional females from Ricco as well as outstanding bulls. In a cow-calf operation it is very important to have a good Dam. The fact that Ricco had a good Dam has been proven by her progeny. Looking at Ricco's pedigree we see that he goes back to Aron's bloodline two times. Aron's mother had 9,000kg of milk and it is no secret that in Canada and Mexico, where Aron was widely used, his daughters are some of the best milking animals around. His semen is still in demand after almost 30 years. Riss - Stein, known as one of the best milk production bulls in the breed is also in the pedigree. The following bulls, all in the pedigree,(some in the 5th and 6th or even the 7th generations) were good in milk production potential, Admiral-Buchs, Argo-Schoennenberg, Nero, Hasli, Furst, Arthur-Illgau, Dado, Donar, Dufur, David-Oberamt, and even Jorat. By this it is clear to me that this bull poses no risk in the milk potential department. If this was not the case we could all cease to breed using performance based selection.
For the cow-calf operator the best indication of a good milking cow is a heavy calf at weaning time. I am convinced that Ricco can be used in a fullblood program as well as a cross breed program. So far the cross breed program has been the more widely used one. Whether in Canada, Australia, Brazil, or Mexico, all the breeders are noticing that his offspring are far above breed average in performance. This shows that the potential of passing on his characteristics to his offspring are high.
It is interesting to see what can be accomplished by selecting animals towards a know goal. I know Ricco's bloodline back for 50 years, and have worked with these animals personally over that time. Since all the animals in Ricco's ancestry were either selected by my Father or myself over this time, I am happy that Vrene and Ian Peden were successful in combining these bloodlines into such a superior animal. I would be pleased if as many people as possible used Ricco to improve their herd. I would venture to say that there are very few, if any breeders that could not improve their herds by using him.
One must always be careful to only compare animals and results from animals that were raised in the same environment. Ricco's grandmother, and mother were raised in the same environment. This is why we chose to use offspring from this environment to send to the feedlot test. This allows us to prove that the genetics, not the feeding are better. The ultimate measurement of success is when we can produce a better feed conversion factor. It doesn't matter if this is milk conversion or feed conversion, what matters is that for the least amount of feed in you get the most weight gain out. It is important in the future to be able to provide breeders with an animal with a better feed conversion ratio, Ricco does this. In the future it may also become more important to feed grain to people instead of to cattle, so it is important that an animal can still gain well without using grain.
Fertility is also a very important characteristic of any breeding program. This may even be the most important characteristic, because without it milk potential and beef potential mean nothing. Ricco's Dam, Dixie, had 8 calves in 9 years who averaged 3.74 lb. (1.7 kg) gain per day of age at weaning. I am not impressed by a single high performer but by a long history of exceptional performance. Dixie is one of these animals. If we look at the bull Dado, that was used for semen collection until he was 18 years old, and has thousands of female offspring or Aron that was used until he was over 12 years old we get a sense of the longevity in this breed. This is no surprise as Aron goes back to the cow Resetli - Gams, a very old foundation cow in Switzerland. The cow Trina, is still alive and has recently calved at 14 years of age. Vreneli, a cow we imported from Switzerland, produced calves for 15 years, and Nerina, the Dam of Dado, was 18 years old when Dado was born. All these animals are in Ricco's pedigree and this shows you that longevity and fertility is a very strong characteristic of this bloodline.
I want to wish every one of you much success in using Ricco in your breeding program. Together we should strive to improve the fullblood breed without the use of non fullblood animals. It is clear to me that this is more difficult to achieve as we cannot take advantage of the heterosis effect that an F1 cross gives. We want to provide the world with a pure continuation of a thousand year old breed. In my estimation, Braunvieh is the best dual purpose breed available in the world today. Let's keep it that way. I am convinced that it is always possible to improve our breed and am looking forward to selecting the best animals over the best proven bloodlines to provide you with even better bulls than Ricco.
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