A three-year California study quantified what the industry has long known – a planned crossbreeding system and the hybrid vigor that results can mean dollars in your pocket.

The study, funded by the American Hereford Association, was conducted by California State University-Chico with cooperation from Lacey Livestock of Paso Robles, CA; Harris Feeding Co. of Coalinga, CA; and Harris Ranch Beef Co. of Selma, CA.

In the first year of the study, 400 Angus-based cows were randomly mated to 10 Hereford and 10 Angus bulls under typical Western range conditions. In years two and three, 600 Angus females ran with 15 Hereford and 15 Angus bulls under the same extensive conditions. Only calves that could be matched via DNA to a single sire were used in the trial, and as much as possible, bulls with above average EPDs, based on criteria provided by Lacey Livestock, were used.

Data indicates a $30/head net economic advantage for the crossbred (Hereford-sired) calves. Here are some general conclusions:

  • Preweaning performance had a slight but consistent advantage for crossbred calves – approximately 10 lbs. and $12/head.
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  • Backgrounding performance had a slight but consistent advantage for crossbred calves – about 10 lbs. and $12/head.
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  • Average daily gain (ADG) in the feedlot favored the crossbred calves in two of the three years and there was a slight overall advantage to the crossbred calves.
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  • Feed conversion (as fed and dry matter) had a consistent and marked advantage for the crossbred calves.
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  • Cost of gain had a consistent and marked advantage for the crossbred calves.
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  • Morbidity was close to equivalent for both crossbred and straightbred calves with lower morbidity for the crossbred calves in two of the three years.
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  • Quality grade consistently favored the Angus group in all three years.
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  • There were essentially no differences in carcass weights or yield grade between the two groups.
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  • There were essentially no differences in Yield Grade 4s and 5s between the two groups. Economic performance favored Hereford-sired crossbred calves in the feedlot in two of the three years, with an average return of approximately $30/head.
  • Carcass performance favored the Angus-sired calves in all three years, with an average return of $15.60/head.
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  • Overall net return for the crossbred calves was approximately $30/head in a vertically coordinated beef marketing system. This doesn’t include the maternal advantage of the baldy female.
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  • Pregnancy rates for the black baldy females averaged 7% higher than the straightbred group.

To read the complete report, go to www.Hereford.org/HarrisHeterosisProject.
-- Burt Rutherford