Crossbreeding may fit most producers, but it is not the only logical path, says a leading cattle feeder and an animal scientist. Tom Brink, president of J&F Oklahoma Holdings, says feeding 1.6 million cattle per year at Five Rivers Feedlots has led him to conclude: “Planned crossbreeding is not the problem. Planned straight breeding is not the problem. Breeding cattle without any consistent plan is the problem.” He commented at the 45th Annual Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) meeting June 12 in Oklahoma City, where a series of presentations and a panel discussion examined the rationale for breeding systems.
Ultra-high stock density grazing, also called mob grazing, is a practice where a large concentration of animals are restricted to graze a small area, usually for a very short period of time. While there’s no strict definition on the size of herd or smallness of the area, some folks suggest at least 300,000 lbs. of animals/acre, or about 200 cow-calf pairs/acre, 1,000 pairs on five acres, or 50 pairs on a quarter acre. A few mob grazing experts have gone more than three times higher, to more than 1 million lbs. of animal/acre, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
As you drive almost any highway, you currently see ranches for sale due to extreme persistent weather conditions and high production input costs. If you are interested in buying a ranch, now may be the time to start shopping. Purchasing a ranch requires a big investment; so clearly identify your ranching goals to ensure that the selected property will meet your aesthetic and appreciable expectations.
Perhaps no other activity has so well defined the character of the Great Plains in literature, movies, and the national psyche as cattle ranching. Ranching, as it developed on the Plains, was well adapted to the physical environment. Cattle were able to consume the nutrient-rich grasses, just as the bison had. Even today, grass is the most important natural resource for ranchers, and little tillage agriculture takes place in order to sustain the herds.
Baseball fans see Nolan Ryan in the owner’s box at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. They know him as part owner, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers. Or perhaps the legions of fans see Ryan in their cherished memories - the seven no-hitters, the 27 major league seasons, the all-time strikeout record, or the 324 wins. Ryan understands that people excel in those things for which they have great passion. When he explains his success in baseball or ranching, he uses that one word more than any other.
Crossbreeding beef cattle offers two primary advantages relative to the use of only one breed: 1) crossbred animals exhibit heterosis (hybrid vigor), and 2) crossbred animals combine the strengths of the various breeds used to form the cross. The goal of a well-designed, systematic crossbreeding program is to simultaneously optimize these advantages of heterosis and breed complementarity.
Heterosis or hybrid vigor refers to the superiority in performance of the crossbred animal compared to the average of the straightbred parents. Heterosis may be calculated using the formula:
% Heterosis = [(crossbred average - straightbred average) ÷ straightbred average] x 100
New things are both frightening and attractive. If you place a flag in the middle of a field, the cattle will be curious and come up to investigate it. However, if that same flag was suddenly shoved in the animal’s face, it would react violently due to fear. New things are attractive when the animal is allowed to voluntarily approach them, but they can be very scary if they are introduced too quickly. Researchers have discovered that an animal’s brain has separate emotional circuits which motivate it to either go into fear mode or seek and approach mode. The circuit works like a switch and it can be in either the seek position or the fear position.
The Corriente can be traced back to the first cattle brought to the new world by the Spanish as early as 1493. These cattle were hardy breeds chosen especially to withstand the ocean crossing and adapt to their new land. They were brought to the West Indies and south Florida, as well as to Central and South America. Over the centuries the descendants of these cattle bred for different purposes - milk, meat and draft animals. They also adapted through natural selection to the various regions in which they lived. Eventually, their descendants spread across the southern U.S. and up the coast of California.
The Galloway breed of cattle with a genetic background that goes back to the coastal lowlands of Scotland has been a choice for cattle owners in the United States since they were first brought to this country in the mid-1800s. “They were tougher than nails,” says Debra Vance public relations director for the American Galloway Breeders Association (ABGA). “Plus, they display great versatility with superior beef production, feeding efficiency and ease of calving.”