Providing a quality eating experience for the consumer, that’s the definition of quality for Donnell Brown with R.A. Brown Ranch, a family-owned ranching business in
In order to do that, though, selection and improvement of such carcass traits as marbling and tenderness is essential. As a seeedstock provider and producer of beef, Brown says that they have selected heavily for marbling over the last six years and are using all the data possible to improve marbling.
“It is amazing how much progress we’ve made in the last 10 years using ultrasound technology,” says Brown. “We also know that if we can have rapidly growing animals that can reachmarketing weights at a younger age with more English influence, and do that efficiently, then we’re going to have a young animal that will produce a car-cass that will have a high probability of being tender.”
He’s also aware that the key to making those improvements is to strike a balance between all economically important traits. For their program, reproductive traits remain at the top, followed by the performance traits, then carcass traits. Performance traits include calving ease because they can’t perform well unless they’re born alive. So the calving-ease threshold has become important and the Red and Black Angus cattle they provide customers help with that. “As a result, our customers have increased quality grade significantly and are reaping the benefits of this fantastic Choice-Select spread in the market today.”
In order to strike that balance, Brown says that they encourage their customers to use a planned crossbreeding system to optimize genetic merit and heterosis. “With the right amount of hybridization, we can really enhance the reproductive rates of those cattle and the performance. But the key is to balance genetic merit with heterosis while selecting for more than one trait.”
To help customers wade through the EPDs and performance information available on bulls, the Browns include the percentile rank in their sale catalog. The percentile rank is where that animal ranks within the breed. For example, when customers see a +80 for a trait, they can look at the corresponding rank for the breed of the top 10 percent. That percentile ranking helps increase the usability of the data across breeds when customers are evaluating more than one breed.
“We’re looking forward to the day when multi-breed EPDs will be the norm,” Brown says. That will become an effective tool for producers to compare bulls of any breed.