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Crossbreeding with Charolais cattle | Purebred vs Commercial Ranches

Mon 12 Dec, 2011

Purebred vs Commercial cattle operations

It’s hard to label every cattle operation as strictly “purebred” or “commercial”.

These days, there are so many ranches at so many different sizes and scales. They are after different markets, with different economic goals. They have differing views on ecology and the environment. Every ranch is different, so often times, the concepts of purebred and commercial are quite literally crossbred.

With new, progressive cattle management techniques emerging, more and more ranches seem to hybridize the two traditional practices, selecting the traits of each one which work well for them.

However, if we had to break them apart, here is how they would typically differ.

-More closely managed operation. Especially in terms of genetic selection and breeding.
-Purebred animals are typically sold for their supreme genetics and breed complementarity.
-Breeding for increased quality (marbling, size, ease of calving, added performance and efficiency, etc.)

-Commercial operations produce meat for consumption. Focused heavily on poundage.
-Cattle are raised for sale on the general market.
-Commercial beef can range anywhere in grade from the nicest “prime” cuts to “standard” cuts of meat

Simply put, the Purebred operation is typically used to provide premium genetics for the commercial man’s herd. It is a difference between what they are primarily trying to sell; meat or genes.

However, this is not to say that purebred animals are never sold for their meat, and that commercial animals are not sold for their genetics. Purebred animals often display the characteristics of very high quality meat for consumption.Things like excellent marbling, tenderness, taste and color, as this is what they're bred for.

Again, all operations are different. Ranchers do what works for them, with their ultimate goals in mind. Whether these goals be economic, environmental, social, scientific, or any others, there is one thing that everyone can rely on...

The fact that when a commercial herd is crossbred with the purebred animals, the commercial herd benefits from the purebred’s supreme genetics and breed complementarity.

Now, Why Crossbreed?

Crossbreeding has become a standard practice in the cattle industry. When the right breeds are crossbred, the results produce a superior animal which inherits many of the best traits from each breed.

What are the advantages to crossbreeding?
Crossbreeding beef cattle offers two primary advantages relative to the use of only one breed...

1) Crossbred animals exhibit heterosis (hybrid vigor)
Heterosis, or hybrid vigor, refers to the superiority in performance of the crossbred animal compared to the average of the straight-bred parents.

For example, if the average weaning weight of the straightbred calves was 470 pounds for Breed A and 530 pounds for Breed B, the average of the straightbred parents would be 500 pounds.

If Breed A and Breed B were crossbred and the resulting calves had an average weaning weight of 520 pounds, heterosis would be calculated as:

[(520 - 500) ÷ 500] x 100 = 4 % - this can be average to crossbreeding with Charolais

This 4% increase, or 20 pounds in this example, is defined as heterosis or hybrid vigor.

Although the 4% figure demonstrates quality additional gains, customers of DeBruycker Charolais, have reported higher returns with near 100 pound increases in weaning weights. And in using this example, this is a 20% heterosis return.

In essence, the crossbred animal inherits many of the superior traits from the genetic transaction which occurs. In the case of cattle, these traits might consist of the following:

Steers which are...
-     Uniform in size and structure
-     Longer-bodied and small headed for calving ability
-     Strong-topped for carcass quality
-     Well-muscled for quality meat production
-     Sound - correctness of feet and legs

And heifers which are...
 -Uniform in size and phenotype
- Feminine yet well-muscled for quality meat production
- Ideal udder quality and teat size for milk production
- Sound structure - Correctness of feet and legs
- Easy calvers
- Maternal & Fertile

2) Crossbred animals combine the strengths of the various breeds used to form the cross. The goal of a well-designed, systematic crossbreeding program is to simultaneously optimize these advantages of heterosis and breed complementarity.

So now that we know that, why buy DeBruycker Charolais bulls for your herd?
DeBruycker Charolais provide some of the most proven genetics time and time again. Feel free to browse our brochure as well as our website to learn more.

Download our Debruycker Charolais Brochure(upper right corner of the website)

We look forward to hearing from you. And, don't forget to come to our bull sale April 7, 2012!

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