Chart showing comparison of CIDR-based protocols to synchronize estrus prior to fixed-time AI in beef heifers from the University of Missouri.
University of Missouri fixed-time research, 2004 summary
See more photos about the fixed time AI process from the University of Missouri's An Sci 4384 Reproductive Management class.
Breeding cows to high accuracy sires yields heifers with greater genetic potential to be good mama cows. But that's only half the equation. What about steers from AI sires? There's value there too, says David Patterson, University of Missouri beef researcher.
Patterson's AI research led to the formation of the Missouri Show-Me-Select program in 1998, a way for producers to market and improve replacement heifers. Since then, his research has moved to fixed-time AI and high accuracy sires through what he calls Tier Two AI.
"A lot of the marketing work on this project has been on the heifer and cow side—getting females bred earlier in the season. But the byproduct of this has been developing higher-quality beef,” Patterson says.
Creating "white tablecloth beef,” meaning beef more likely to grade Choice or Prime, is the ultimate goal. "We are getting enough AI-sired genetics in our research herd that it is beginning to speak volumes in terms of the quality of cattle and how they are performing on the rail,” Patterson says.
"From our 2009 research, if we look at the natural service sired calves, 100% graded Choice. Of those, 45% qualified for Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and none of those graded Prime,” he says. "In terms of calving ease sired calves, 70% graded Choice, 13% Prime and 67% qualified for CAB.
"When we look at high accuracy sired calves, 64% graded Choice, 36% Prime, 79% qualified for CAB and 85% of them rated CAB Prime. This is one of the most significant results in our research. We've focused on developing the fixed-time AI programs to create opportunities to breed cows more successfully, but we've also kept our eye on improving carcass quality without compromising maternal traits,” Patterson says. (See 2008 steer performance data at right.)
Where the money is.
Putting a monetary value on genetic accuracy, University of Missouri economist Joe Parcell studied Patterson's research for ways producers can use this data to improve calf values at market.
"When you have animals calving at various times, it forces the producer to spread out his or her management. Also, spreading out the calving period creates production variability because of the various ages of the animals,” he says. "When you factor in genetics across herds, there is even more variability.
"Looking at our 2006 through 2009 feedlot performance and carcass quality results, hands down, the high accuracy group over time outperformed calf groups that came from natural service sires or calving ease sires,” Parcell says.
Calves from fixed-time AI were also generally healthier than natural service sired animals, Parcell says. While more research is needed, he thinks knowing when cows will calve and having calves in a closer age group results in less health costs down the line.
Comparing 2006 data with 2009 values, the overall trend is that high accuracy sired calves have a higher level of profit than natural service sired calves.
Parcell says exact figures are not as important as the relationship between the numbers.
He found that high accuracy sired calves had net returns of $99 per head more than natural service sired calves and $84 per head more than calving ease sired calves. (See chart on page 10.)
"What isn't shown is the mixed group,” Parcell says, "which is typical of what is being marketed across the country. If we started to collectively market high accuracy calves across management style and operations, we could see higher per-hundredweight values for those animals because of a consistent quantity.
"When we look at the distribution of performance for the high accuracy sired calves—everything from birth date to average daily gain, quality grade to carcass weight—it's very tight,” he adds. "That is what we want. It's about predictability. When you can provide the beef industry predictability, you give value to them. And there is evidence to suggest that predictability can be achieved while maintaining independence for the small producer.” BT
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