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Crossbreeding vs. Straight-breeding:

A Cattle Producer's Perspective

by Kasey Brown, associate editor, Angus Journal®


Tom Brink
Tom Brink

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (June 13, 2013) — “I’m a friend to any producer who has a reasonable breeding plan and sticks to it, whether it is a crossbreeding plan or a straight-breeding plan,” said Tom Brink, president of JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, as he explained breeding programs from the cattle feeder’s perspective to participants of the 45th Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention in Oklahoma City June 12-15.


Cattle bred without a plan for quality are a cattle feeder’s biggest problem. He said that 70%-80% of all packer profits come from value-added beef premiums. Commodity beef is essentially a breakeven exercise.


“It is working just to work,” Brink said.


Profits come from cattle that grade USDA Choice or better, Brink explained, adding that Five Rivers makes zero profits from cattle that grade Select. Unfortunately, he said, there are too many average or below-average cattle in the industry.


“We don’t need crossbreeding just for the sake of crossbreeding,” he said. Breeding plans that work well in the feedlot, he said, include:

  • planned crossbreeding using complementary breeds;
  • disciplined use of purebred or hybrid bulls on a planned crossbred program; or
  • well-planned and well-executed straight-breeding using Angus (or even Red Angus) that targets very high-value calves that grow and grid well.

Citing feedlot data from JBS, the total economic advantage for top-performing cattle is an additional $219 dollars per head above average, Brink shared. “That, folks, is a game changer. We will pay producers more for those cattle.”


When the numbers are crunched, he noted, “The economics are a lot closer for crossbreeding and straight-breeding programs than we think.”


Simply put, he said, a crossbreeding program gives higher productivity (with hybrid vigor), potentially lower cost of production and more average value creation. A straight-breeding program gives lower production, potentially higher production costs, and well-above average value creation and higher revenue per cow.


Which is better for your operation? There is no simple answer, said Brink. It just depends on your situation.


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.

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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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