When packers started accepting heavier carcasses without discounting them, cattle that marbled at heavier weights benefitted. Among them were Bill Travis’ Simbrah.

“It really helped us when packer started taking a bigger carcass weight,” the Athens, TX, seedstock producer says. “Before the carcass specs were increased, our cattle graded about 52% Choice,” he says. “That’s because our cattle marble at over 750 lbs. of hot carcass weight. Now, we average well over 80% Choice.”

Travis and his wife Jane feed out all males they don’t hold to sell or use as sires. They obtain as much data as possible from the steers. For a set of 23 steers that were finished at Graham Land & Cattle Co., a feedyard in Gonzales, TX, in 2011, the average hot carcass weight was 801 lbs.

All but two graded Choice. The two that graded Select were from the two lightest carcasses, 660 lbs. and 730 lbs. Nineteen were USDA Yield Grade (YG) 2, three were YG 3 and one was YG 1. Out of more than a dozen feeding sessions since 2000, “there have been very few YG 4s or YG 5s,” Travis says.

“Our product is very tender, with shear force tests in the 5.3-lb. range,” he says. “And we believe we have built a ‘breeding plant’ that basically eliminates YG 4 and 5 cattle.”

Texas AgriLife Extension livestock specialist Joe Paschal says Texas A&M University feeding trials have consistently shown that cattle with Simmental and Simbrah influence have performed well on feed in southern feedyards.

“There had been some concern over (high) medicine costs for these type cattle on feed,” he says. “But we didn’t see those problems in southern feeding areas.”

Larry Stalcup is a freelance writer based in Amarillo, TX.