One-step upgrade in calves

Farm Forum

Some cows are better suited to their environment than to pleasing beef consumers. Their owners can still use high-value Angus genetics as a terminal cross in those herds, to help themselves and the entire beef supply chain.

That’s according to two years of results from the Southern Carcass Improvement Project (SCIP), as presented by an advisor to the demonstration. Tom Brink, President of J&F Oklahoma Holdings, Inc., helped compile a white paper on last fall’s results (

He presented those findings and an abstract of the work Feb. 2, at the Southern Section, American Society of Animal Science annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Having purchased and fed many thousands of Brahman-cross calves from the region over the years, Brink said the net dollars left on the table in the South by ignoring a genetic upgrade amount to at least $200 million a year-$625 million across the entire U.S.-and that money is not out of reach.

“High-grading, high-value cattle can be created in one generation from a Bos Indicus-based cowherd possessing average or lower carcass genetics,” he said. “Producers can earn higher prices for their calves at weaning or as yearlings in the increasingly consumer-oriented U.S. cattle market.”

As in the first year of the project that began in 2009, representative Bos Indicus-cross cows, characterized by DNA profiles, were randomly mated to either similar Southern-type sires or high-carcass-value Angus bulls. Embryo transfer was utilized and the recipients kept at Gardiner Ranch near Ashland, Kan. Progeny were compared through weaning, feeding, and harvest.

All of the calves were crossbred, but the bottom line showed a net advantage for the Angus-sired calves of $73 per head, considering both the bottom-line cost savings and top-line market premiums from greater weight and higher quality grade. The Angus-sired progeny graded 76% Choice overall, compared to 25% for their Southern-sired herd mates.

“Better genetics offer a simple and effective solution in making beef produced in Southern packing plants grade better,” Brink concluded. “Producers win in giving the industry more of what it needs and in the process, the U.S. beef supply chain becomes more aligned with consumer demand.”