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Crossbreeding vs. Straight-breeding:

Taking a Second Look at Crossbreeding

by Lynsey Meharg, intern, Angus Journal®


Nevil Speer
Nevil Speer

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 13, 2013) — Charged with highlighting the effects of the deemphasized decision-making process behind breeding decisions at the commercial level, Western Kentucky University faculty Nevil Speer opened the 2013 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Symposium in Oklahoma City.

Speer began by introducing a white paper he wrote on executing the selection process regarding genetic inputs within the commercial cow-calf sector. Upon receiving an email from a producer concerned that cattlemen were beginning to confuse consumers, he began analyzing how producers market their product. What he found is something many producers already understand: Straight-breeding can provide a simplified way to genetically reach consumer targets, and premiums available in the industry can make that a profitable option.


“There’s a lot of diverse types of priorities in this business,” Speer said. “What concerns me is that we’re trying to make this industry one-size-fits-all.” Speer continued by urging producers to be strategic about their decisions and to consider their options before deciding one way or the other, advising producers to take an indirect route and view the broader picture.


“We’ve gotten better at making them bigger,” Speer said, citing larger weaning and yearling weights. He added that as cow herds have consolidated, they have grown in size. “However, if you look at the year-by-year decline, the Number 1 reason for the decline is the culling of cows by producers. If you look at the producers who are staying in the business, there is an 18% heifer retention rate.”


Speer stated that fertility is no more important than other traits that influence longevity when it comes to influencing net present value, and that a well-designed, crossbreeding system can be valuable to producers.


However, producers should also take an interest in value-based marketing, such as branded beef programs.


“The reality is that branded beef programs have had an impact,” said Speer. “We’ve increased and improved marbling prevalence in U.S. cattle. We have improved the quality grade dramatically.”


Speer urged producers to consider not just direct cost within their operations but to also consider indirect costs and how they factor into an operation’s economic efficiency.


“The dynamics of this business are changing rapidly,” said Speer.


Return to the Newsroom for links to the PowerPoint, whitepaper and proceedings that accompanied this presentation, as well as audio to the presentation itself.


Editor’s Note: This summary was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API). Through an agreement with the Beef Improvement Federation, we are encouraging reprinting of the articles to those who will adhere to the reprint guidelines available on this site. Please review those guidelines or contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270. PowerPoints are posted with permission of the presenter and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the presenter.

API's coverage of the event is made possible through collaboration with BIF and sponsorship of LiveAuctions.tv. For questions about this site, or to notify us of broken links, click here.

Headquartered in Saint Joseph, Mo., API publishes the Angus Journal, the Angus Beef Bulletin, the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA, and the Angus Journal Daily, as well as providing online coverage of events and topics pertinent to cattlemen through the Angus Journal Virtual Library.  

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