Category Archives: 2011-7

Animal Health Series: It’s all in the genes

Assembled by Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

For anyone registering cattle, perusing pedigrees, or checking out potential semen donors, you may have found some unfamiliar notations following the animal’s name. Recent changes implemented by the American Hereford Association may affect both registration and management of your breeding program. In November 2010, the American Hereford Association implemented a mandatory DNA testing policy for all future walking sires. All Hereford sires born after January 1, 2011, need to be DNA genotyped at the official American Hereford Association DNA laboratory before their progeny can be registered. The intent of the policy is to improve the quality control of pedigrees and to test for three non-lethal genetic abnormalities. The same requirement for all AI sires and donor dams was previously implemented. Why the change you may ask? According to Joe Roybal of Beef Magazine, it was prompted by the difficulties and expense in determining sires in the standard breeds. The issue with genetic testing was most likely prompted by the Angus industry when Arthrogryposis Multiplex, a very popular sire, lead to the genetic evaluation of 10,000 direct sons and daughters after it was discovered he carried the lethal gene for Curly Calf Syndrome.

Recessive genes are responsible for the development of three genetic abnormalities known to be present in Hereford cattle, Dilutor-Rat Tail, Hypotrichosis and Idiopathic Epilepsy. Therefore, an animal seemingly normal in appearance can produce offspring that demonstrate recessive gene abnormalities. Genetic abnormalities are inherited defects, their form may be extreme, showing visible signs with a lethal result or they may be less obvious, causing premature abortion, early embryonic death or produce animals that are weak, slow growing with lower vigor, fertility and longevity.
Recessive inheritance can cause a parent to carry the defective gene and appear normal; the parent is then known as a carrier. If both parents pass the defective gene to the offspring, the genetic defect shows up and the genetic condition in the offspring is called homozygous recessive. The defective gene in the carrier animal is present along with the normal gene and this condition is termed heterozygous. The underlying problem of genetic defects is that parents that appear to be perfectly normal can be carriers and so can produce offspring that are defective. Parents that never produce defective progeny are in the majority and are called homozygous normal. At first glance, it seems that if we could identify carrier animals and eliminate them from the breeding population the problem of recessive genetic defects would be solved. However, it is necessary to explore the problem a little further before deciding that identifying carriers is necessarily worth the money and effort.

Symptoms of the Dilutor-Rat Tail gene are as follows: Carrier Hereford bulls or females when mated to black cattle can produce offspring with a hair coat that is gray, smokey or chocolate color. Hypotrichosis gene: Partial to almost complete lack of hair. Affected calves are often born with very short, fine, kinky hair that may fall out leaving bare spots or areas particularly susceptible to rubbing. The condition may vary in expression as the animal matures and is usually less noticeable in older animals. The hair coat will sometimes appear “frosted” or “silverish.” Tail switch may be underdeveloped.
Idiopathic Epilepsy gene: Age of onset or first seizure can be variable, ranging from birth to several months of age. Occurrence and persistence of seizure may be influenced by environmental stressors such as temperature extremes or increased physical activity. Upon initial onset of seizure episodes individuals will typically lie on their sides with all limbs extended in a rigid state. Manual flexing of the limbs is possible, but return to the extended position occurs after release. Seizure episodes may last from several minutes to more than an hour. Carrier Free (F) identifies the animal as tested and the results indicate that the animal is not a carrier.

Breeders wanting to have their animals tested must use the AHA official lab, Maxxam Analytics. All samples submitted for parentage will also be tested for genetic abnormalities. The cost for DNA testing of less than 50 animals is $32/head for hair samples and $37/head for semen, blood or tissue. In order to test your animals, call the AHA office, 816-842-3757, and request a DNA kit. You will need to have your animal’s registration number available. You will receive a Genetic Marker Test form. Each form is specifically bar coded to the registration number of the animal.

Instructions for obtaining a hair sample: Pull hair samples above the tail switch. Do not cut the hair. The hair root contains the materials needed for DNA testing. Pull 20-25 hairs evenly and directly from the tail so the hair does not break. The switch must be dry and brushed clean of all debris. The lab suggests wrapping the hair around a pencil and then pulling.

According to Jonathan Beever, a leader in cattle genetics, the issue is one of management and accurately identifying carriers through genetic testing; eliminating the gene source is contrary to overall breed improvement. In the absence of DNA testing, genetic abnormalities can be minimized by utilizing outbreeding and examining pedigrees to avoid mating of animals with common ancestors within at least two or three generations. In addition, the practice of turning over the sires after one or two breeding seasons and using fewer cows per bull reduces the chances of producing animals with inherited defects. No matter which process you use to protect your herd be aware of the possibility of genetic abnormities and plan you program accordingly.

American Hereford Association. AHA implements new DNA policy for walking herd sires. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from The Pairie Star.
Causes of Gentic Abnormalities in Cattle. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from Petahia.
DNA Testing Procedures. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from American Hereford Association.
Roybal, J. Avoiding THE WORST. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from BEEF.
Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California. They have been Miniature Hereford owners and active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.

Where have all the vets gone?

Where have all the veterinarians gone?
Charlotte Williams 6/15/2011
This is a question that an increasing number of rural areas are asking, particularly in the area of food animal care. Food animal practitioners now make up fewer than 10 percent of the veterinarians in the United States, according to a 2006 study by the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition. Their work includes a wide variety of skills, from prevention and disease control on production farms to USDA food safety and inspection to laboratory analysis of processed meat samples.

A number of programs are actively in place throughout the country to combat this growing problem, including state student loan repayment programs, rural veterinary internships, and others. For example, last year Dr. Joe Hillhouse participated in an initiative led by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) through the AVMA/AVMF Food Animal Veterinary Recruitment and Retention Program to provide student loan debt forgiveness for veterinarians who met the requirements.

His practice in the small Texas towns of Borger and Panhandle also actively recruits from schools as far away as Cornell University in New York to provide internships for students who are considering a life away from the big city.

He also assisted this year in hosting the annual Food Animal Production Tour for first and second year veterinary students from Texas A&M University. They traveled over a thousand miles to visit facilities in the Texas Panhandle and to taste the sweet life in small towns. The Tour is designed to showcase state-of-the-art operations in the dairy, feedlot, swine, and beef industries and to show potential food animal veterinarians the multitudes of opportunities in food supply veterinary medicine.

This year’s cow/calf tours included a visit to the 6666 Ranch – a working Angus cattle ranch that is part of the 275,000 acre Burnett Ranches – a visit to an organic dairy, and a final stop at the WW Ranch Miniature Herefords. Quite a variety of experiences!

Unlike the larger facilities, the WW Ranch allowed the students to interact directly with the animals and to see the positive, close relationship that can develop between a veterinarian and his clients. Dr. Joe is a regular visitor to the ranch for show papers, brucellosis vaccinations, and the occasional foot rot or “what is THAT??” treatment. It also gives his interns a small, gentle set of cattle to become comfortable with procedures before tackling the Big Guys.

The Tour concluded with a lunch sponsored by the owners of WW Ranch, Steve & Charlotte Williams, at a local brewery club, and a warm send-off for the final bus trip back to College Station, TX.

Hopefully the support of people and programs like these will continue to encourage young veterinarians to make the choice to provide care for our nation’s food animals. Whether you drink milk, wear a sweater, or eat the occasional BLT, your life is affected by the direction their lives take.


For Ranch Wives Everywhere

“For ranch wives everywhere”

This time of year, when the cattle are being worked and shipped, is usually a time of high stress on ranch marriages – not unlike calving, lambing, planting, haying, combining, feeding, and all of the other seasons of ranch wife life.
Julie Carter of Carrizozo, New Mexico, whose ‘Cowgirl Sass’ articles sometimes appear in Agri-News, wrote these Ranch Wife 101 Guidelines, which seem very appropriate to share during shipping season. She is obviously a genius because these are good enough to hang on the refrigerator!

Never – and I repeat never – ever believe the phrase, ‘We’ll be right back,’ when he has asked you to help him do something on the ranch. The echoing words, ‘This will only take a little while,’ have tricked generations of ranch wives and still today should invoke sincere distrust in the woman who hears them.
Always know there is no romantic intention when he pleadingly asks you to take a ride in the pickup with him around the ranch while he checks water and cattle. What that sweet request really means is that he wants someone to open the gates.

He will always expect you to be able to quickly find one stray in a four-section brush-covered pasture, but he will never be able to find the mayonnaise jar in a four-square-foot refrigerator.
Always load your horse last in the trailer so it is the first one unloaded. By the time he gets his horse unloaded, you will have your cinch pulled and be mounted up – lessening the chance of him riding off without you while your horse tries to follow with you hopping along beside it, still trying to get your foot in the stirrup.

Count everything you see – cattle especially, but also horses, deer, quail or whatever moves. Count it in the gate, or on the horizon. The first time you don’t count is when he will have expected that you did. That blank eyelash-batting look you give him when he asks, ‘How many?’ will not be acceptable.

Know that you will never be able to ride a horse or drive a pickup to suit him. Given the choice of jobs, choose throwing the feed off the back of the truck to avoid the opportunity for constant criticism of your speed, ability, and eyesight. ( How in the $@*!&* could you NOT see that hole?’)

Never allow yourself to be on foot in the alley when he is sorting cattle on horseback. When he has shoved 20 head of running, bucking, kicking yearlings at you and hollers, ‘Hold ‘em, hold ‘em!’ at the top of his lungs, don’t think that you really can do that without loss of life or limb. Contrary to what he will lead you to believe, walking back to the house is always an option that has been exercised throughout time.

Don’t expect him to correctly close snap-on tops on plastic refrigerator containers, but know he will expect you to always close every gate. His reasoning is that the cows will get out, but the food cannot.
Always praise him lavishly when he helps in the kitchen – the very same way he does when you help him with ranch work – OR NOT!

Finally, know that when you step out of the house, you move from ‘wife’ to ‘hired hand’ status. Although the word ‘hired’ indicates there will be a paycheck (that you will never see), rest assured that you have job security. The price is just right, and you will always be ‘the best help he has’ – mainly because you are the ONLY help he has!”

A Picture World: Miniature Herefords


Buckets of fun! With eleven competitors and a total of sixty-three entries across the twelve classes I think this first Virtual Cattle Show was successful. There has been enough positive feed back to warrant holding it again next year. Does the month of June suit everyone? The programme will be much the same but with a few adjustments to bring it in line with more serious competitions. It would be great, too, if we could find sponsors who could supply real prizes to the placegetters in their particular countries. Something to work on.

A common comment was the appreciation of being able to view Miniature Herefords of similar ages in the different countries. What big bottoms you Americans have – your cattle, I mean! Someone asked if they were double-muscled like the Belgian Blue, Parthenais, and Piedmontese. Seeing the different developments of animals in the classes has inspired us to look to our own breeding programmes and a sharing of experiences can only be helpful.

Results of the Individual Breed Classes are still to come but will be able to be viewed on the AMHBN website which is . There are, however, results from Classes 10, 11 and 12 and you can see all the photos for these on the mentioned website. They are:

Class 10 – Scenic

First – Page 4 – Jennie Menzies (Perian Stud) New South Wales, Australia
Second – Page 3 – Joy Walters (Boomercreek Stud) Tasmania, Australia
Third – Page 7 – Janet Poole (Riverlets Stud) Northland, New Zealand

Class 11 – Entertainment

First – Page 5 – “Go on, make my day!” – Ruth Blaikie, Northland, New Zealand
Second – Page 4 – “Wonder how much bull power this has?” – Julie Stott, NSW, Australia
Third – Page 2 – “Watch my tail!” – Charlotte & Steve Williams, Texas, USA

Class 12 – Viewers’ Choice

First – Photo No. 1. Kirstie Kasch, Texas, USA – Miniature Hereford Enthusiasts
Second – Photo No. 2 Charlotte and Steve Williams, Texas, USA – Never to young to start.
Third Equal – Photo No. 5, Alistair Hargrove, Northland, NZ – Four young MH ladies
Photo No. 8, Julie Stott, NSW, Australia – Mother and Child
Photo No. 9, Jennie Menzies, NSW, Australia – Evening Supper

A big thank you to all who took part, all who helped organise and all who gave us useful feedback for another show. For those of you who would like to compete next year start taking photos now. The schedule of classes can be seen on and there should only be minor alterations. If the numbers grow we may have to look at running regional, national and then a final international Virtual Show with place getters from each going on to the next competition but time will tell.

Janet Poole,
Riverlets Miniature Herefords,
New Zealand.



President’s Prospective

President’s Prospective—

Hello MHBA Members, Regional Directors & Executive Board Members.

Although this position was not contested, I am deeply honored and excited to begin as President of the MHBA. I want to thank each of you that took time out of your busy lives to vote in this election.

It has taken me a little time to get acclimated with the google group/discussion forum, as computers are not my forte. I have asked Fran & Charlotte to help get my ideas listed and out to you. I thank all of you for your assistance, patience and understanding while I do my best to get on track.

Many of you may have read my campaign information, but let me re-introduce myself.

I own and operate J bar W Cattle Company in Elizabeth, Colorado. I was born and raised on a family farm, raising cattle & hogs, near Fort Dodge, Iowa. I started my herd in 1997 with the purchase of 2 bred cows and a bull. Through selective breeding and purchase of out-cross bulls, I have developed the herd of 80 head I have today. I also own & have operated a successful security/alarm business for 20 years.

I am a member of the MHBA and have been an active member of this association since its beginning in 1999. I believe my experience as Vice-President, Show Committee Chairman, Co-Superintendent & Sale Manager for the National Western and Co-Superintendent for the Kansas City Royal provides the background and understanding for being President. I have been actively involved with Miniature Hereford shows across the nation to include showing all 12 years at the National Western; assisted to obtain shows at the Iowa State Fair, Kansas City Royal and happy to announce the 1st Annual Miniature Hereford Show at the Colorado State Fair in 2011. I have also shown cattle each year at the Houston Livestock Show & the Star of Texas Show in Austin, Texas.

I have had the pleasure of witnessing the growth of this association and firmly believe in the positive forward direction we have taken. I want to personally thank the membership, our current and past members of the Executive Board and Regional Directors for their time, sacrifice & dedication to this cause. I hope you see, as I do, how your efforts have made tremendous strides in the popularity and respect of the Miniature Hereford in the cattle industry.

There were some recent issues that arose that needed to be addressed quickly. These involved the Iowa State Fair Show. After personally speaking with the livestock office for this show, it remains their decision that the 2011 Miniature Hereford Show will be listed and sanctioned by the NAMHA. They remain firm that they will not be involved in the middle of the two associations, however they will allow MHBA members to participate in this show without being a member of the NAMHA. As a result, no MHBA funding will support this show. We will remain in contact with the personnel in the livestock office and make every attempt to return this show as a MHBA sanctioned show.

The other project we are currently working on is the formation of the MHBA Junior Program. Currently, there has been discussion, but no plan has been developed for the selection of this committee. Please feel free to submit any ideas or suggestions you may have, during the next couple of weeks, so that a plan can be implemented. The MHBA Junior Program funding will be part of the MHBA account and maintained by the MHBA treasurer. Also, the committee members will work with and through the Show Superintendents as to any aspects of the junior show.
Other goals and ideas are as follows:

1) Continue the positive trends & ideas that the MHBA has taken for all members

2) Encourage greater member participation in shows

3) Inspire members to express their suggestions & concerns

4) Develop programs for greater marketing strategies for the large or small breeding

5) Gain optimum benefit of well-produced cattle shows with due consideration to
MHBA funds

6) Increase public awareness and education

7) Promote Miniature Herefords as a superior beef product and other benefits

8) The expansion & growth of the Scholarship Foundation

As always, I THANK all of you for your consideration and support! My plan is to keep all members of the MHBA apprised of all issues and decisions through the Miniature Hereford News & the MHBA website.

Please feel free to contact me for any information, questions, your suggestions or concerns. I will work as diligently as possible to guide the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association and the Miniature Hereford Breed in a positive & forward direction.

Best Wishes & I hope everyone is having a successful calving season!

Justin Grady
Miniature Hereford Breeder’s Association



Best in the West Show

Pacific Northwest Regional Miniature Hereford Show
Best In The West – Oregon State Fair

It’s that time of year again when preparations for show strings are underway and we are all deciding which shows to attend for the coming season. Region 8 members are thrilled to return to the Best In The West Show at the Oregon State Fair—now recognized as the Pacific Northwest Regional Miniature Hereford Show. This year will mark the 12th annual Mini show at the OSF, which is one of the oldest, continuous Mini shows in the US . . . second only to the World Miniature Hereford Show at the National Western Stock Show. Thousands of individuals attend the OSF each day, meaning lots of foot traffic through the barns and many potential buyers!
This year, the Minis will be exhibiting in the middle cattle rotation from August 29 through September 1, 2011. The Show Coordinators and Regional Director are pleased to announce that the PNW Regional Miniature Hereford Show will be including two new steer classes—Prospect steer (Jan. 1, 2011 – June 28) and Market steer (Jan. 1, 2010 – Dec. 31, 2010). Registration forms for the show will be available at the Oregon State Fair website soon Please note that all deadlines will be posted on the MHBA website. Also, camping sites are available for exhibitors at the fairgrounds, and a block of rooms will be available (hotel information will be posted soon).
Additionally, the 4th Annual Open Jr. Showmanship competition will be held on September 1. This event features four age divisions, ranging from two-years to 18 years old, as well as an overall champion showman class. Youth wishing to participate in this event must be a member of the MHBA, or have a family member in the MHBA, in order to compete. Entry forms will be available through the Show Coordinators via email.

The Pacific Northwest Regional Miniature Hereford Show schedule is as follows:
Move In – Monday, August 29, 2011 by 5:00 PM
Weights & Measures – Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 8:00 AM
Open Show – Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Open Jr. Showmanship – To Follow the Open Show
End of The Trail BBQ & Awards Ceremony– Thursday, September 1 at 2:00 PM
Move Out – Thursday, September 1 at 8:00 PM
(Note, distance exhibitors may obtain early release based on travel time or utilize the tie-outs until Friday morning by 8:00 AM)

We highly encourage you to place this event on your “To Attend” list, as it is a wonderful, family-focused cattle show and well worth the trip! For more information and class lists, please contact the PNW Regional Miniature Hereford Show Coordinators: Cynthia DuVal, Western Oregon representative at, and Erin Eldridge, Central Oregon representative at