Get more out of your angus-based cowherd

Bill Pendergrass
Nextgen Director of Genetics & Breeding

The attributes of the Angus cow, whether she be black or red, are very well known throughout the American beef industry.

Over the past few decades, Angus cows have added a most impressive tool to their toolbox: marbling.

One of the Angus breed’s hallmark traits has been steadily improving quality grade in the US cowherd for decades, resulting in improved demand for beef after a long period of reduced consumption.

There is a simple reason for this phenomenon, carcass traits, such as marbling are moderately heritable and can be improved fairly quickly by selecting for them and avoiding crossbreeding or heterosis, which has a much greater impact on lowly heritable traits (such as fertility). When the Certified Angus Beef Program came into prominence and created fantastic demand for Angus feeder cattle, many ranchers held back Angus replacement heifers.

This, coupled with selecting Angus herd sires with greater carcass merit and enhanced terminal traits (as derived from the vaunted, powerful $B index) allowed ranchers to effectively double the rate of genetic progress for terminal traits (specifically marbling) as they are being selected for not only in the sires but the females as well.

For the retained ownership feeder who markets his cattle on marbling-based grids, big premiums for these marbling rich cattle can be readily achieved. This combination of heavy selection pressure on terminal traits using highly accurate selection tools such as $B has actually led to detrimental impacts.

Some Angus genetics, stacked deep for terminal traits, have enabled many ranchers to capitalize on retained ownership to enhance ranch revenue on their feeder steers.

However, due to these same practices, they have experienced a nerosion in maternal traits in the heifer mates to grid topping steers. For the average cow-calf operator who simply sell shis steers at weaning time, the fastest way to improve ranch profitability lies in leveraging maternal heterosis and implementing a planned, terminal crossbreeding program.

Animal scientists from across the world and the USDAMeat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska have conducted extensive, long-term research trials to determine and document the advantages of crossbreeding. These advantages have been proven to be many and powerful. The most powerful summary for encouraging the use of crossbred-cows came in a statement from Dr. Larry Cundiff, former Director of USDA MARC, when he stated that crossbred cows will wean off the equivalent of one extra calf over the lifetime of a crossbred cow vs. the lifetime production of a straightbred cow.

Crossbreeding in and of itself creates improved efficiencies for the rancher.

However, it is possible to magnify these money-making improvements further by exploiting genetic differences in crossbreeding to a greatly unrelated animal. This is where Beefmaster bull scan create a significant impact. Beefmaster bulls mated to Angus cows produce calves that excel. Why? Because Beefmasters, a composite breed composed of 50 percent Indicus (25 percent Hereford and 25 percent Shorthorn)are not related to Angus.

Thus, this cross will optimize the effects of heterosis allowing ranchers to retain the prized marbling traits of Angus genetics while injecting a serious wallop of maternal traits, feed efficiency, and dressing percentage and producing perhaps the most productive replacement heifers in the industry.

Angus x Beefmaster cattle are bred and selected to excel in harsh environments.

NextGen Beefmasters have been selected and mated with great emphasis on $M, the Beefmaster maternal index. Identifying highly-fertile cows who wean off heavy calves, while maintaining acceptable mature cow weights greatly curbs maintenance costs in your herd.This simple philosophy of leveraging powerful maternal traits and maternal heterosis sets the stage for terminal crossbreeding.

Your Angus x Beefmaster cows bred to terminally oriented NextGen Charolais bulls will produce superior feeder cattle for our value-added, all-natural, GAP Certified and non-hormone treated cattle programs. These programs rely heavily upon superior genetics to boost immunity, growth, improved dressing percentage, and feed efficiency while maintaining carcass quality. NextGen provides superior maternal (Beefmaster)and terminal (Charolais) genetics as well as viable, real-life marketing programs for our customers.

Simply put, your Angus cows coupled with NextGen genetics and our value-adding customer marketing programs, allow our customers the greatest chance to improve profitability and sustainability for your program.