Crossbreeding has been shown by numerous research studies to enhance advantages in growth, longevity and maternal efficiency over straightbred cattle due to heterosis and has been popular among commercial cattlemen since the 1960s. With the growth of the Angus breed and the success of their marketing program, the term "Angus" has taken on a meaning synonymous with quality to consumers. This fact has changed the commercial landscape with a majority of the American cowherd now being heavily Angus-influenced, and has led some to theorize that crossbreeding is no longer needed and market demands can be met with just one breed.
As you look at profit drivers across the beef industry production chain, there is still value in crossbreeding, especially with Continental breeds. Cattlemen can generally agree that there are any number of traits which each breed excels at and will develop a breeding strategy to exploit those traits of economic relevance. The key to the entire system is that crossbreeding must be achieved in a programmed manner using seedstock that are appropriate for the situation.
Profit minded cattlemen are aware of the advantages of using outcross genetics and breeds to advance their breeding programs. If this wasn't the case, we wouldn't have seen the increase in value for bulls in major Continental breeds in the past years. Growth in natural and NHTC cattle feeding programs also serve as a driver for a return to crossbreeding since performance, efficiency and yield provided by crossbreeding are needed to maintain profitability when implants, beta agonists and ionophores are removed.
With forced and continued liquidation of our nation's cowherd, we continue to believe that with much of the commercial cow industry consisting of black-hided, English-based cows, Limousin sires can result in a calf crop that helps through the entire production chain in the beef industry. The resulting progeny will increase weaning weights and produce great replacement heifers with maternal advantages that return dollars to the commercial cow/calf man. Those same feeder cattle will boost feed performance and increase dollars returned to an individual whether it involves running cattle on grass or moving cattle into grower yards or finishing lots.
The improvement in feed efficiency at the stocker, grower and feedyard sectors of the business is apparent on closeouts when cheaper cost of gains and better dry matter conversions are the major factor in determining profitability and staying in business from one year to the next. Those same cattle give similar economic advantage to the packing industry in terms of improved dressing percentages, pounds of useable product and less waste and fat trim. Producing cattle with superior yield grades, while still having the ability to grade choice, has tremendous economic value to the cattle business. These advantages are dollars that are reflected in pounds out the back door that make a difference to a competitive packing industry that operates on the economies of scale.