We have built a herd with very diverse breeding. One of the first selection tools we use is docility. Being a one horse, one mule and two person operation, having easy to handle cows is a must. If a cow does not show interest in being friendly, she simply is not a good fit for us. It is definitely a perk being able to walk amongst the herd and scratch all those hard to get spots when they are eight and nine months pregnant!
Next we use EPDs and believe in DNA testing all of our registered stock. We select for cows who will raise their young well on marginal feed while maintaining their own body condition. They must be able to take care of themselves and their calves.
We like to see pairings which result in calves who hit the ground looking lively. Calves walking and nursing in under 30 minutes is our goal. Many are up in 15 minutes nursing. While both the sire and dam contribute to a calf's will to live, the dam is the one who is there doing the care-taking. Cows with strong maternal instincts make for more successful and heavier calves.