Producers share bull selection, management and expansion intent
By Steve Suther
English breeds have dominated the U.S. cowherd genetic base for many years, but a January 2014 online survey of 1,245 producers in the Beef Today database shows more detail in their seedstock decisions.
Based on those who named Angus as the primary breed of cow and listed no other breed of bull used or purchased in the past three years, 34% of herds can be considered straight-bred Angus. That’s about four times the number of all other straight-bred herds.
Crossbred herds account for 58% of the total, and most of those use Angus genetics. Only 20% have no Angus genetics, and after accounting for non-Angus purebred herds, that means 89% of crossbred herds use Angus genetics.
Nearly 46% of respondents to the online study owned fewer than 50 cows, but results did not change significantly when those records were removed from the totals. Those producers with more than 200 cows tended to use a slightly lower percentage of Angus bulls.
Producers surveyed operated mainly in the North-central, South-central, Midwest and Southeast regions, but the West, Northwest and Northeast were also represented. Survey data showed more non-Angus bulls were used in the North-central region.
Producers aged 46 to 75 years made up 79% of the group, followed by those 30 to 45 and more than 75; the 3% who were less than 30 years old were much more likely to use Angus bulls (70%). Those older than 75 used other breeds the most. Other than those two ends that were not well represented, the older the producer, the more likely he or she was to use Angus bulls.
Bull usage in 2013 was recorded as 40.2% "Angus only," followed by "multiple breeds including Angus" at 29.2% and "multiple breeds but no Angus" at 7.2%. The rest were widely scattered among a dozen or more other breeds, such as Hereford at 4.2% (see bottom left chart).
Asked to name one breed that most represents the herd, producers named Angus 62.4% of the time, but some felt a need to list more than one, so there were 2.6% of respondents that named Angus and some other breed. Twelve percent named other English breeds, with Hereford representing half of those.
In this market where a single premium beef carcass might bring $2,500, it is surprising that 39.6% of respondents paid less than $2,500 for a bull in 2013 and 11.2% paid more than $5,000.
When it comes to DNA technology such as marker-assisted genetic selection, 31.4% would use it if the cost were less than $15, which is generally below the market for any commercial tests available today. Nearly 8.5% would use it at higher prices, but 60.2% would not use genomic tools at any price.
More than 65,000 bulls, 55% of which were Angus, were represented by survey participants; 16.1% of all respondents planned to use AI in 2014.
Operational insight. Results of the survey were cross-tabulated by breeding system and genetics as well as respondents’ trait preferences and other answers to create profiles for various mindsets among producers.
Operators of primarily Angus herds led all others in stressing the importance of a bull being registered and backed by DNA information. In management traits, they chose feedlot performance and carcass data as top concerns more often than other producers.
- Late Spring 2014