What is in this article?:
- Crossbreeding systems necessary to beef industry
- Real advantages
- As producers look to downsize cows, those early black baldy concepts are real. A small cow is not efficient if she only has the capacity to wean a small calf. Real efficiency comes when the small cow produces a calf that exceeds her own capacity to grow. This means terminal sires. In addition, it means crossbreeding systems are needed.
Once the industry decided that the walls would not cave in when Hereford bulls were mated to Angus cows or vice versa, the world of beef cattle systems was created.
In the beginning, life was simple because all a producer needed to do was take an established herd of purebred or straight-bred cows and put a different breed of bull with the cows. Given that, the world of crossbreeding started to emerge.
As a point of significance, for many producers, such crossings were considered improper in those days, and one perhaps could even use the word sacrilegious. For younger producers, those concepts seem foreign because beef cattle genetics is a much broader pool of genes sourced from many distinct breeds of cattle.
So why bring up the past? It is a reminder of what followed those initial crossings because each breed had been meticulously tracked and the parentage documentation exhaustive. Some extraordinary results even were becoming visible to the naked eye.
These so-called crossbred calves excelled in growth. They were very vigorous from birth through death. They withstood the stresses of the environment better and were all around better calves, so producers loved it.
A term called heterosis (hybrid vigor) was put forth. It is a term that technically refers to the measurable and nonmeasurable advantage in the calf that was greater than the average of what one would expect based on the average measureable performance of each parent breed.
If a producer ever received a gift from Mother Nature, this was it. This was the beginning of crossbreeding in commercial cattle production. Commercial production systems soon were developed to explore and document the advantages of crossbreeding, and more refined breeding systems were established.
The classic black baldy was produced and named. The Hereford- and Angus-crossed calves excelled. When the females were kept as replacements, these crossbred cows had improved fertility and successful pregnancies. This was good. However, as with so many people, being good is never good enough.
If the traditional English-bred cattle would respond to crossbreeding, why not search the world and bring in more breeds? Producers did just that. They brought in new breeds that were distinctly different from the traditional breeds.