The Advantages of Crossbreeding
According to the January 2015 USDA Cattle Inventory report, retained heifer numbers were up 1.4 percent. This increase indicates an attempt at cattle herd expansion. This number increases and decreases with each year's economy and ranchers must be on top of their game. However, the cost of replacement females for a cow-calf operation is significant, and always has been. Selecting replacement females is challenging, especially when you consider that decisions made now will impact your operation for many years. As commercial cow-calf producers evaluate the opportunity to expand, it is important to review the value of crossbreeding.
The advantages of crossbreeding are well documented and can have a big impact on your net return. Heterosis (hybrid vigor) and breed complementarity are the primary benefits realized from a properly planned crossbreeding program. Heterosis is the increase in performance or function above what is expected based on the parents of the offspring. Breed complementarity allows a breeder to capitalize on the strengths of different breeds because no single breed excels at all of the traits that affect profitability.
Maternal heterosis is the advantage realized by using a crossbred cow versus a straight-bred cow. Research has shown that crossbred cows can have many advantages, including a 6 percent higher calving rate, a 4 percent higher calf survival rate, an 8 percent increase in efficiency, a 38 percent increase in longevity and a 23 percent increase in lifetime productivity. These advantages will be optimized when the breeds and individuals you select to create the crossbred cow fit your resources and goals.
Another advantage of crossbreeding is the opportunity to capitalize on breed complementarity. This involves evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of potential breeds and selecting those that complement each other. The result should be an animal that has the best traits of those breeds. Common examples include the Black Baldie (Angus x Hereford), Brangus (Angus x Brahman) and SimAngus (Simmental x Angus), as well as many other combinations. The traits that are most important to you should be based on the goals of your operation.
Direct heterosis is the benefit observed in a crossbred calf. On average, these advantages include a 4 percent increase in calf survival, a 5 percent increase in weaning weight and a 6 percent increase in post-weaning gain. However, these effects are greatly influenced by breed, along with environmental factors and herd health.
The effect of breed on the results of a crossbreeding program can be significant. Both direct and maternal effects were estimated in a 2010 study by Williams et al., based on published crossbreeding studies. Their results showed the direct effect of breed can influence weaning weight by more than 70 pounds and post-weaning gain by more than 86 pounds. In addition, the maternal effect of breed can influence weaning weight more than 88 pounds (See Table to the Right).
Capturing Maternal Heterosis
Perhaps the easiest way to capture maternal heterosis is to identify the type of female you desire and buy her from a reliable, off-farm source where you can see the animal and preferably her offspring. Depending on what you are looking for, this can be difficult. Alternatively, many producers retain their own heifers as replacements. According to the USDA, 83 percent of replacement heifers are raised on the ranch where they will calve.
The goal of most commercial cow-calf producers is to increase profitability. Determine your market endpoint and work backward to determine the type of animals that will produce the most profit within the constraints of your resources. Using crossbreeding correctly can have a significant impact on your net return.
How we do it?
We have found that using proven good bulls on our hand-selected herd of brood cows has given us the best product we can offer to our customers. Whether it be their child's next State Champion 4-H Steer, a rancher's next investment on replacement heifers, or a couple who want to get back to the basics of raising their own organic, natural, and healthy food supply, we are able to pair our customers with the correct calf so as they can get the most out of the animal they are purchasing.
Our prices vary each year, however they are some of the most consistent prices for home-grown cattle in the State, Region, and Country! We have a general range and RARELY does it go above the range. Sometimes it does go below so it's always good to check to see what we have.
We calf in the late fall (October-December) which allows our customers to have calves that are big enough for Spring/Summer and some early Fall fairs; as well as cattle that can be fed out easily on good pastures and finished on little grain.
This is what we are known for; calves that GROW, GROW, GROW! The majority of our calves are freezer-bound and that's okay. They all live very healthy and happy lives until their processing dates. All the steers we keep back for processing are affectionately named and cared for just as if they were staying in our herd. Their comfort and mental health is just as important as their physical health. Animals that don't cut it personality-wise are kept back and processed carefully. Animals that excel in personality but fail with other replacement-type traits are sold to you, our wonderful customers. These animals are perfect for someone who wants to raise their own beef products with an animal that will easily grow in their backyard pasture, and on minimal input feeds.
PRICE RANGE: $600-1,500.
A portion of our herd has come from good quality show stock lineage. Each year we have a small number of calves that prove themselves in growth to be excellent prospects for showing. Conformation and temperament along with feed conversions are our top qualifications for considering a show calf. Show calves sell quickly. Contact us and we will select a few cows that may produce what you're looking for. Our calves are priced RIGHT. This allows your child to purchase a 4-H calf or fair calf and still keep some budget for other costs. We also offer a program where you can choose one of our cows, and semen from a bull of your choice to breed to. Contact us for more information regarding that program.
PRICE RANGE: $1,100-$1,600.
JK Farming has been a cornerstone of the sustainable agricultural community since 2007. We have been breeding and raising top-end and new-aged genetics using the most sustainable practices possible. Starting out with Hereford beef cattle, adding some Hybrid-vigor genetics, then jumping into Texas Longhorns! We take great pride in our products and strive for the highest quality of products to our friends, family, and clients.
"Knowing where your food comes from, and how that product is raised and treated makes all the difference in the world."
That's where we come in!
Coming from only the finest of bloodlines, we breed and raise the best beef cattle possible. We use new genetic technologies to carefully choose precise bloodlines and characteristics that will produce efficient, reliable, and predictable results for us and our customers.
*all cattle will be brand inspected by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, State Brand Inspector, and processed at a Certified USDA Facility. No Exceptions.
Each year we select a small handful of quality heifers that were specifically bred to become good brood cows. They have genetics for optimum milk and mothering instincts, as well as fantastic gain and feed conversions. Disposition is a MUST in a replacement heifer. If she has the best genes in the world, but has a nasty attitude, she becomes freezer beef. We don't take any chances with the welfare of our customers or safety of ourselves in our pastures.
Replacement heifers will be sold after weaning and will weigh between 500 and 700lbs at weaning time. They will be available for sale until they are bred the next year. Bred heifers are priced accordingly and will be individually listed on Facebook.
We all know prices vary each year and each month, our replacement heifers are priced for growers who care about home-grown cattle.
PRICE RANGE: $1,000-$1,850.
Herefords were our original breed of choice; chosen for their superior ability to convert wild grass into muscle, and for their ability to handle all types of climates and feed: adding to hybrid-vigor crosses!
With those characteristics, Herefords are still our breed of choice.
Today’s versatile Hereford continues to be the benchmark against which other breeds are measured. Cattlemen continue to seek the optimum traits inherent in Herefords. The traits critical to survival in the cattle business are the same traits Herefords offer today’s industry.
These are the rare ones! Rarely do we keep back a bull calf to sell as a breeding quality animal. Their genetics must outperform both parents by at LEAST 20% in order for us to consider leaving him a bull. His disposition must be superb. All bull calves are hand selected and worked with daily, brushed, feet picked up (like a horse), taught respect and how to act during feedings and cookies, and conformation is upheld to the highest standards. Scrotal circumference MUST present itself within the top 5% for his breed for him to be considered breeding quality. Coat patterns are considered for commercial breeders and colored calves are usually only offered as bulls for a short while before being steered.
If you get a bull calf from us, you can bet that he will be the best one you've had, and getting rid of him will be the hardest decision you make.
PRICE RANGE: $1,200-$2,200.