Round & Sharp

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bill Weeks  established two significant concepts relating to bovine architecture. First, every animal is a three dimensional being that has height, length and width, and the balance (or lack of it) between these dimensions will have an influence on efficiency and longevity. Second, these dimensions can be applied to each of the three core body areas of a cow (or bull).

Three years of analysis work led Weeks to conclude that “any animal will tend to be generally wide or narrow, long or short, high or low, rough or smooth, strong or frail, thick or thin, heavy or light, rather than some unnatural combination of substance and dimensions.” This tendency for kinds of cows to be similar throughout is the principle of relationship of parts, and makes possible the expression of a cow’s character quite accurately with a single word or symbol, such as ‘round’ or ‘sharp’.”

From 1953 to 1965, Weeks  used the terms Round (R) and Sharp (S) in analysis to indicate the sum total of a cow’s or bull’s conformation in three core body areas: (a) front end, from hips forward, where capacity of the rib area largely determines milk production; (b) udder, where texture affects milking health and resistance to disease; (c) rear end, including rump and legs, where width and bone texture affect ease of calving, regularity of breeding and freedom from leg and foot problems.

He recognized that while these three core body areas are inter-related parts, each area may exhibit a round or sharp quality independent the other areas. For example, the front end of a cow may be sharp while the udder and rear end may be round, which means she would be SRR. Or, the udder may be round and the front and rear ends sharp, expressed as SRS; as well as six other combinations.

In 1953, Weeks and his aAa®  Associates began using the R and S letters to indicate the round and sharp qualities of cows and bulls. For example, Wis Burke Ideal  was analyzed SRS—sharp front end, round udder, sharp rear end. Almost all of the pre-1960 analyzed bulls (and cows) will have only three letters assigned to them.

By 1965, Weeks had developed the cow and bull silhouettes, along with the six numbered aAa® and Weeks®  qualities dairy breeders are familiar with today.  These developments through the years did not constitute a change in the analysis method, only in its written expression.  Bill Weeks was continually seeking ways in which to explain his concepts in terms that would help farmers reach a better understanding of aAa® and Weeks® Analysis.