postheadericon Viewers get a look at bull genetics

‘The Ride with Cord McCoy’ offers a look at the creation of a champion animal

Why does a bull buck?

It’s a natural movement the animal uses to try to remove things off its back. Calves like to buck and kick while playing in a pasture. It’s a sign of exuberance. It’s a sign of athleticism.

Why do some bulls buck better than others?

That comes from genetics, and in the July 22 episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy,” the host shows viewers just how the best bull owners in the sport are developing herds of phenomenal athletes. The show airs at 1 and 11 p.m. Monday on RFD-TV.

Cord McCoy

Cord McCoy

“You’ve seen it in the horseracing business for years,” J.W. Hart, a Professional Bull Riders legend, said during an interview on the show. “The bull business is no different.”

Champion racehorses have been bred to other champions, and the legacies of those genetics have been documented in various registries. The same is happening with bucking beasts, in the form of the American Bucking Bull Inc., an organization that tracks the DNA of bucking bulls and cows that produce great offspring.

Over the last few years, artificial insemination has helped in producing more top-flight bulls that can be seen in the PBR and other bull riding and rodeo organizations. During the episode, McCoy works with veterinarians in showing how artificial insemination and embryotic transfers are changing the face of raising bucking bulls.

“The original idea of this show is that a little redheaded Okie like myself would have a way to get champion genetics,” he said, noting that he and partner Tim Dougherty purchased straws of semen from three champion bulls: Bushwhacker, the 2011 PBR Bull of the Year; Asteroid, the 2012 PBR Bull of the Year; and Shepherd Hills Tested, the 2012 ABBI Classic Champion.

“Technology is why a guy like me can go online, click and own a straw of semen from Bushwhacker.”

McCoy and Dougerty hand-selected three cows they wanted to artificially inseminate with the three straws.

“It was just for a chance to raise the next world champion bucking bull is the reason we did it,” McCoy said. “We took the cows to the vet clinic 30 to 45 days before we wanted to breed them and start adapting those cows for their surroundings and to get them settled in.

“Seven days after they were bred is when we flush those embryos out of the cows, and it gives you counts on what you’ve got as far as the embryos.”

The embryos from one cow were then placed in reset cows, surrogates that will carry the calves through the remainder of the pregnancy – once flushed from the producing momma, each embryo is then placed into the uterus of the surrogate.

Fortunately, the episode features veterinarians who explain the process clearly while keeping it fun for the viewers.

“Flushing … takes your best dams or your best cows in your herd and multiply them multiple times,” said Dr. Matt Barker, DVM. “You can take three or four cows, reproduce them multiple times and let other cows carry the embryos. You’re taking your odds of producing higher quality stock.”

Dr. John Shull, DVM, an embryologist, said animals with bucking genetics are a little more difficult to work with because they’re a high-stressed animal; it is best to deal with a cow that is calm.

“You’re dealing with an animal that essentially needs to be as wild as possible to do her job, but that’s exactly the opposite of what I need,” Shull said. “Normally a cow has one calf a year. My goal is to get more than that production out of that cow and still let her have one calf a year. We manipulate her cycle and give fertility drugs to the cow so that more than one egg can go to maturity and ovulation during that cycle.”

It’s all quite fascinating, and it’s how the bull industry has changed over the years.

“With a flush, you’re rolling the dice to take the chance of getting five calves, not just one,” McCoy said.

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