Trait Targeted Genetics

By Bill Pendergrass
Nextgen Director of Genetics & Breeding

Nextgen Cattle Co. Seedstock Division is solely dedicated to producing the highest quality genetics for our customers. Ultimately, these genetics will serve our customers profitably through every production level.

Why did NextGen select Beefmaster and Charolais as our main genetic products? Simply put: the genetic combination of Beefmaster’s superior maternal traits, coupled with the legendary terminal traits delivered by Charolais, allow our bull and replacement heifer customers the most solid foundation to build superior feeder cattle to fold into the NextGen supply chain of value added cattle. The key to increasing efficiency and profitability at the ranch level is to capitalize on heterosis through crossbreeding.

Beefmasters are perhaps the least known, yet most effective heterosis delivery system in the beef industry, being a stabilized composite that is 50% Brahman, 25% Hereford and 25% Shorthorn. Beefmaster crossed with Angus cows, create an amazing maternal heterosis platform that utilizes the ideal complimentary traits of both base breeds. The resulting crossbred cow now becomes a more powerful and efficient breeding piece sporting improved fertility and longevity, resulting in significantly increased efficiency and lowered annual costs. This breeding combination elevates the maternal traits vital to the long term financial health of the cow/calf sector; while still injecting the much-needed marbling demanded by today’s large Choice/Select spread.

Beefmaster x Angus crossbred calves perfectly fit the demands of today’s buyers, being 25% Indicus, 75% British, loaded with stronger immune systems and free of lethal genetic recessive traits due to heterosis.

These calves sport improved live performance, greatly enhanced feed efficiency and Dressing Percentages.

Dressing Percentage is a key and often overlooked profit component of today’s grid pricing platforms, for which Bos Indicus cattle have been highly regarded, as documented by the USDA Meat Animal Research Center (MARC).

USDA MARC’s research highlighted the breed complementarity concept cow herd beginning with fertility, longevity and efficiency. These traits are greatly enhanced by heterosis and accelerated by the concept of genetic diversity. Genetic diversity also serves as an additive effect for every economically relevant trait. The Beefmaster x Angus combination layers superior fertility and maternal genetics over greatly enhanced carcass quality and live performance traits supplied by the Angus breed which has worked with great energy to add carcass quality to the commercial cow herd.

A terminal crossbreeding program utilizing Angus as one of the maternal components, solidifies two dominant and economically relevant traits, enhanced carcass quality and marbling. An Angus cow base maintains the highly sought after black hide as well as bolstering a polled head.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a Beefmaster x Angus cross cow is best exhibited throughout America’s most hostile cow environments, the fescue belt. This region suffers from an endophyte fungus that wreaks havoc on cow pastures. By virtue of their Brahman heritage, these Beefmaster cross cows shed earlier and handle the effects of elevated body temperature better; thereby boosting conception rates and leading to a higher percentage calves born, heavier weaning weights and healthier calves. All of this boosts the bottom line for the commercial cow calf operation.

Implementing the concepts of breed complementarity to exploit maternal heterosis, has shown to significantly improve production in many areas. Specifically we see a 5% improvement in conception rates, 5% improvement in calf weaning weights, 5% fewer health issues in calves and most importantly, crossbred cows compared to their pure bred counterparts will wean the equivalent of one free calf over their lifetime.

When Beefmaster x Angus cows are mated to Charolais bulls, the concept of targeted crossbreeding to maximize terminal traits is fully exploited. Well known for live performance, carcass merit and superior pay weights at every point, Charolais is the logical tool for any terminal crossbreeding program.

In a condensed explanation, NextGen’s selection of Beefmaster and Charolais as our genetic components: We’re building superior, “Trait Targeted Genetics” to address maternal deficits created by years of selecting almost exclusively for growth and carcass traits in America’s commercial cowherds. These value added females in a planned terminal crossbreeding program allow for a dynamic maternal heterosis platform to dramatically increases efficiencies at the cow calf level while maintaining carcass quality demanded by the feeder, packer, and consumer.