Beef Breeding Basics

Published on Thu, 01/06/2022 - 11:23am

Beef Breeding Basics.

 Article by Paul Topp - Topp Angus.

Consistency is one of the most sought-after traits in the beef industry.  The consumer demands a consistently enjoyable eating experience, the retailers and restaurants need to know that the product they are selling will be consistent with their customers’ expectations, the packer is expecting consistency in carcass size and grade, the feeder wants to acquire pot loads of healthy calves that will perform in the feedlot consistently without having to sort into groups, and the buyer looks to purchase loads of calves of similar type and kind with consistent expected performance. The most obvious next step is for the cow/calf producer to demand genetics that will consistently produce the offspring that will deliver a uniform end-product.

Consistency is the product of predictability.  Single trait selection for outliers can have ill effects on the overall genetic advancement not only for the non-selected traits being focused on but also ironically the trait that has been singled out to try to improve.  Huge variability in genetic makeup will produce huge variability in genetic outcomes. 

To make matters worse, when the next trend comes along and outliers for those traits are used heavily, you now have two traits that were considered important enough to breed solely upon them, but those traits are now your two most unpredictable, inconsistent traits. When buying bulls, take the time to seek out the poorest bulls in the offering.

Your list of bulls that you would not take home should be way shorter than your list of bulls that you would buy.  Predictability comes from sourcing genetics from a producer that can breed consistency, predictably.  Then take the next step and cull through your own cowherd the way you would when buying bulls.  You know the history of your cows.  Cull the poor producers, the bad docility, the poor udders, the bad feet, the hard doing cows, the cows whose calves don’t do well in the feedlot or whichever criteria is most important to you. Predictability starts at home and is greatly influenced by the genetics you bring home.

If I asked you how you performed in school how would you answer? How would you answer if I asked how you performed in sports in high school, choir, academics, socially, leadership?  I bet your answer is not the same for all those areas.  In much the same way, performance needs to be measured across all traits in your cowherd. 

Consistent, predictable improvement should be expected across the board in your herd.  In the end, your cowherd is measured on total profitability and profitability is affected by not only weaning weights, but development costs, longevity, conversions, end product value, death loss, fertility, animal health, and feed costs.

The beef industry is one of the greatest industries on earth. Let’s work together to advance our quality, our image, our message, and our product.