Crossbreeding has the potential to significantly boost return in a vertically coordinated marketing system, California State University-Chico researchers say.

Researchers sought to measure the effect of controlled crossbreeding in range environments on predominantly Angus-based females. Ten Hereford bulls selected for specific EPDs were matched with 10 Angus bulls of comparable genetics.

Bulls were randomly mated to 400 mature Angus-based cows. All cows and calves were identified with electronic ID tags; DNA samples were taken on all sires and calves to determine parentage. Cattle had equal access to comparable feed resources and management.

Differences in weaning performance, feedlot performance and carcass value and overall profitability were measured. Following DNA identification, there were 65 Angus-sired, and 56 Hereford-sired, steer calves.

First-year results found:

  • Preweaning — Hereford-sired calves weaned heavier, resulting in a $10.80/head advantage for calves sold at weaning or preconditioning.

  • Backgrounding — Hereford-sired calves recorded no mortality but 16.2% morbidity. Angus-sired calves had 3% mortality and 11.3% morbidity. Thus, Hereford-sired calves had a $14.10/head economic advantage through the backgrounding phase.

  • Feedlot — Hereford-sired calves gained 3.65 lbs./day, 4.92 feed efficiency (DM basis), 12.5% morbidity and 0% mortality. Angus-sired calves gained 3.28 lbs./day, 5.64 feed efficiency (DM basis), 22.22% morbidity and 4.76% mortality. Hereford-sired calves had a lower cost of gain ($11.94/cwt.), which resulted in an $86.10/head advantage.

  • Carcass — Angus-sired calves had a 23% advantage in percent Choice or higher (73.33% and 52%, respectively), resulting in a $33/carcass advantage for Angus-sired calves based on carcass quality.

Hereford-sired calves had an advantage in morbidity/mortality, average daily gain and dry matter feed conversion, and thus cost of gain. Angus-sired calves excelled in quality grade. Hereford-sired calves netted $77.73/head through all management phases.

Results are preliminary

The researchers say preliminary economic data suggest crossbreeding has the potential to significantly boost return in a vertically coordinated marketing system. Positive impacts were evident in most traits, with the exception of quality grade and/or neutral in other traits (yield grade). Researchers say results are based on limited numbers from the first year, and no significant conclusions can be drawn until the three-year study is completed.

The backgrounding and feedlot trial will be replicated in 2008 and 2009 with subsequent calf crops. The effect of maternal heterosis will be determined by tracking productivity of the replacement heifers retained. The study is in conjunction with Harris Ranch, American Hereford Association and Lacey Livestock.
American Hereford Association, Preliminary Report, Year 1, August 2007

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