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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: How to Get, Keep and Use Heterosis in Beef Production

Author
item Macneil, Michael

Submitted to: Western Beef Producer
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Articles were developed for the popular press to address questions frequently asked about various studies conducted at Fort Keogh LARRL. 1. Retained ownership of weaned calves is a form of vertical integration to help producers increase market power and reduce price risk. Producers reap added rewards from crossbreeding and genetic improvement by using retained ownership. 2. Purebred breeders incur greater costs per cow than commercial beef producers, due, in part, to lower reproductive performance. Finding ways to increase the chance of each cow exposed having a calf can reduce costs. Methods used must still permit accurate identification of parentage. Paternity testing based on DNA markers opens up the possibility of multiple sire mating. 3. Heterosis is the advantage that crossbred cattle have over purebred cattle in commercial production. It influences many traits that are important for profitable beef production including: reproduction, calf survival, maternal ability, growth rate, and longevity. The value of heterosis may exceed $100/cow in some situations. 4. Many bulls are sold every year using a blizzard of statistics to document their genetic potentials. This information can be used to decide which bulls being offered fit our needs. Unfortunately, too often we are blinded by the EPDs, ratios, weights, dates, and pedigrees presented. Here is a system for sorting through this data to find bulls worthy of an investment. 5. Marbling is an important determinant of carcass value. There are several ultrasound systems available that claim to predict marbling. This research determined differences between systems in the accuracy and precision with which they satisfy that claim.

Technical Abstract: Articles were developed for the popular press to address questions frequently asked about various studies conducted at Fort Keogh LARRL. 1. Retained ownership of weaned calves is a form of vertical integration to help producers increase market power and reduce price risk. Producers reap added rewards from crossbreeding and genetic improvement by using retained ownership. 2. Purebred breeders incur greater costs per cow than commercial beef producers, due, in part, to lower reproductive performance. Finding ways to increase the chance of each cow exposed having a calf can reduce costs. Methods used must still permit accurate identification of parentage. Paternity testing based on DNA markers opens up the possibility of multiple sire mating. 3. Heterosis is the advantage that crossbred cattle have over purebred cattle in commercial production. It influences many traits that are important for profitable beef production including: reproduction, calf survival, maternal ability, growth rate, and longevity. The value of heterosis may exceed $100/cow in some situations. 4. Many bulls are sold every year using a blizzard of statistics to document their genetic potentials. This information can be used to decide which bulls being offered fit our needs. Unfortunately, too often we are blinded by the EPDs, ratios, weights, dates, and pedigrees presented. Here is a system for sorting through this data to find bulls worthy of an investment. 5. Marbling is an important determinant of carcass value. There are several ultrasound systems available that claim to predict marbling. This research determined differences between systems in the accuracy and precision with which they satisfy that claim.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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