2.  Foundation Sire:  MSU Optimum Z03

MSU Optimum Z03

Optimum was Grand Champion at the American Royal in 1992, and was Grand Champion at the National Western in 1993.  At a time when most Polled Hereford Bulls being shown were large-framed with high birthweight and low milk EPDs, Optimum was a moderate-framed bull with moderate birth weight, high growth and high milk EPDs.  Though he was a 7.2 frame, many at the time thought he was too small to be useful. His mature weight is around 2800-3000 lbs. Today many people feel he is too big, which is an indication of how rapidly standards have changed.

Optimum now has over 300 daughters in production in the United States, and that number will likely continue to grow in the coming years.  His best sons - WNH Optimum 9324, WNH Everything, WNH Optimum 9230 ET, and WNH Optimum 9705 - are being used widely and are proving to be positive contributors to breed improvement.

Optimum's most famous daughter, WNH Ms Optima 9401, is considered by many to be the best cow in the breed.  At five years of age, 9401 has produced more champions at the national level than probably any other cow in the history of the breed.  No cow has ever had the impact on a single National Show that 9401 had in Denver in 1999.  She had six calves there from four different bulls.  Her 6 calves produced 3 class winners, two seconds and one third, three divisional champions and both Reserve Grand Champions.  Few bulls have ever had that kind of an impact on a National Show.  9401's progeny sales and semen sales of her sons have already exceeded a quarter of a million dollars.  In one 8 day period in late October, 1998, 9401 and her progeny racked up over $125,000 in sales.

Optimum has been used widely in Australia where he has 8 owners.  He has been a trait leader in the Australian Sire Summary for 9 traits: two maternal traits (gestation length and milk); three growth traits (200, 400 and 600 day weight); and four carcass traits (ribeye muscle, low backfat, low rumpfat and retail beef yield).  No other bull is a leader for more traits.   (Feltons 517 has been a trait leader for 7 traits.)  At the recent Palerimo National Show in Argentina, 75% of the cows in the cow/calf class were daughters of Optimum.  Worldwide he has sold nearly 15,000 straws of semen.  Sales of his semen, AI certificates, and breeding interests have exceeded $400,000.

During the last four years (1994-98), Optimum has had 1,121 calves registered to him in the United States alone.  Only one polled bull (Victor 103T) and two horned bulls have had more registrations of their calves over the same time period.  Optimum has been in the top ten of the breed for calves registered continuously since 1994.   Other bulls have come and gone like flashes in the night, but Optimum has endured.  This attests to the enduring value breeders see in MSU Optimum Z03.

In 1999 the first Carcass EPDs were published by the AHA.  Optimum was in the top 1% of the breed for ribeye muscle and low backfat.  This means he should produce very high yielding carcasses, as the Australian data has shown. and that he is one of the heaviest muscled bulls in the breed.  In fact, there were only two bulls out of several hundred (both polled and horned) that had a higher ribeye muscle EPD than did Optimum.

Maybe even more significant is his structural longevity.  Optimum is now 10 years old, and he has been breeding 20-50 cows per year since he was a yearling.  He remains completely sound on his feet and legs, and has never had any significant illness, injury or structural problem.  He has great eyeset and he has never had pinkeye to my knowledge.  Though he weighs nearly 3000 lbs in pasture condition, he moves free and easy.  He can serve both heifers and cows without putting his weight on them and hurting them.  His disposition is great, and he continues to be a very easy keeper.  In August of ‘97, he was picked up right out of the pasture at Gerber’s and hauled to Hawkeye Breeders where he weighed 2870 upon arrival.  He had just bred about 50 cows.

MSU Optimum Z03 Makes an Emphatic Return to Denver in 1999:

In 1999 at nearly 9 years of age, Optimum returned to Denver to be put on display in Herd Bull Alley.  He was a popular attraction on Herd Bull Alley, constantly having admirers gathered around him.  Many people who had seen him when he was Grand Champion admired the fact that they thought he looked even better now than he did then.  He was just ahead of his time.  He was thick and deep, muscular and powerful when those traits were first sought as a new direction in the beef industry.  Six years later in 1999, there were still few if any big bulls in the National Show that could compare to Optimum in muscle, volume, doability and structural correctness and longevity.

Orders for over 2500 straws of Optimum semen were taken in Denver.  1500 of those straws will be going to a Braford breeder.  Because of his muscle, volume, easy doing ability and heavy muscling in the lower quarter, Optimum has been a very popular bull for use on Brahman cows.  Many Brahman cows have been flushed to Optimum, and he is the sire of hundreds of beautiful Braford females.

Beyond the extensive activity around Optimum’s  display pen, Optimum also had a major impact on the National Show at Denver.  Optimum daughters produced 4 class winners, 3 seconds and 2 thirds, 3 divisional champions and both Reserve Grand Champions.  In addition, two of his own daughters placed 5th and 6th in very big, tough classes.

Optimum's Legacy Continues into the 21st Century

In the 1999-2000 show season, three of the four North American (Canada and the US) National Grand Champions were progeny of MSU Optimum Z03.  The US National Champion Female was out of an Optimum grandson, Decathlete.  The Canadian National Grand Champion Bull was out of an Optimum daughter, 9401, and the Canadian National Champion Female was an Optimum daughter, PED Z03 Dancer 46.  Dancer was also Champion Cow at the North American International Livestock Exposition.

PED Z03 Dancer 46
Canadian National Grand Champion Female
Champion Cow/calf at the North American International Livestock Expo
Daughter of MSU Optimum Z03

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