Those of you who are unfailing readers of this column will recall the point made back in February that the economics of crossbreeding have historically ended with the weaned calf and that information is badly needed about effects in the terminal animal. In fact, questions from some of you on how to breed for the grid led me to do the analysis on which I have reported in recent columns.

I have presented information from a data bank I assembled on steers fed to finish over a period of six years in the OK Feedout, an annual project of the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service. This information, which was presented in parts in my last three columns, is presented in total in the accompanying chart.

I think this information can be useful in evaluating the breed-types you are presently using or might consider using. But remember that while these data are based on real cattle, it is not a large data set. Relationships are generally correct in direction but would change in degree if the base were larger.

I want to call your attention to the economic-effect information at the bottom of the chart. I developed this information by putting the quality and yield information of the breed types through my spreadsheet on the IBP Real Time grid. I used the base price, premiums and discounts in effect a year ago, the last year on which I have data on the OK Feedout.

Interestingly, the grade and yield outcomes on these cattle did not produce big economic differences. But here are a couple of things to consider. First, your choices of breeds and of strains within these breeds can have a big effect on grade and yield outcomes. This was very true of the individual groups of steers entered in this feedout by various breeders. Second, base price and premium/discount effects work independently on the grid. Yes, packers do like lean cattle with a high retail yield, but these cattle sell in a lower-value market than those of higher quality and are frequently priced lower. In fact, if the exotic group in this case were priced $1 lower in the beef (base price) the net effect of their premiums and discounts would be only $1.80.

We'll look at within-breed differences next month.

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