September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"It's a rarity to have them," Bernie Manderfeld said. "We've always had good luck with the breed."
Although the Milking Shorthorn breed is a staple at the Manderfeld's farm, the native genetic Milking Shorthorn breed is one of the seven cattle breeds on the Livestock Conservancy's critical list.
According to Jeannette Beranger, research and technical program manager with the Livestock Conservancy, a livestock breed will go on their list if there are fewer than 200 registrations with an estimated global population of less than 2,000.
"This gives us a category to focus our efforts on and know what needs the most work," Beranger said.
According to Cory Salzl, the executive secretary of the American Milking Shorthorn Society, there were 3,122 registrations for the Milking Shorthorn breed in 2012.
"Registrations have been very consistent over the last several years," Salzl said.
However, most of those registrations are not native registrations.
The native Milking Shorthorn breed was predominantly a dual-purpose breed.
"In 1949, the dairy and beef spectrums split in the organization," Salzl said. "Fewer breeders were focusing on the dual-purpose aspect."
By the 1950s, the Milking Shorthorn herd book was opened up. This allowed the breed to be crossed with other breeds. The producers wanting to focus on meat could cross breed to enhance those traits and producers focusing on dairy could cross to increase milk production.
By doing this, the native genetic line of the Milking Shorthorn breed started to decrease bringing their total population low enough to appear on the Livestock Conservancy's critical list.
"Roughly 20 to 25 percent of the registries we get are of the native genetic line," Salzl said. "The native Milking Shorthorn is found mainly in Missouri, Arkansas and Colorado."
"If we lose the native breed, we lose the genetic diversity," Beranger said. "Once they are gone you can't recreate the breed."
Since the native Milking Shorthorn breed was put on the list, the Livestock Conservancy has worked to help bring the breed off the list and put them into the recovering list by advising farmers to consider using the breed for their operation.
"The Milking Shorthorn is not difficult to build a case for," Beranger said. "We help producers understand more about the breed during their selection process."
They also provide resources for people to learn more about the native breed.
Although it is a concern being on the list, Salzl sees the recognition could bring more notification to the breed.
"It could help to see this," Salzl said. "We could have producers actually register their cows to prove their actual ancestry."
The Manderfelds have seen the benefits of their non-native line.
"For us, they have been healthy animals," Manderfeld said. "They are productive and stay around a long time."
Salzl and Beranger have also seen the benefits for producers to use the breed.
"They are the No. 1 daughter pregnancy rate (DPR) breed and are versatile," Salzl said. "They can fit into virtually any type of management style."
"They are tough as nails," Beranger said. "They also have some nice qualities that could be useful to other breeds."
Even with the native Milking Shorthorn on the critical list, the Manderfelds are proud to continue to work with the breed.
"We have stayed with the Milking Shorthorns because they have gotten us far," Manderfeld said. "The opportunities are good for success with the breed."[[In-content Ad]]