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Crossbreeding: A Marketing Tool to Promote Carcass and Maternal Traits of Braunvieh Cattle

February 25, 2019

By Kelsey Pope, Freelance Writer

 This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 Braunvieh World.  The information included is still relevant today as cattle producers look to stay sustainable and be competitive in today’s markets.

Crossbreeding: A Marketing Tool to Promote Carcass and Maternal Traits of Braunvieh Cattle

Hybrid vigor is a tool many cattle producers utilize to sell more pounds, yet they also want sound cows to give calves a good head start. The Braunvieh breed can accomplish both of these highly valuable traits in one animal. Braunvieh females have great maternal traits and are easy to calve. Their calves hit the ground, grow and flourish, bringing sustainability to the operation.

Those calves who grow and flourish are loaded with remarkable performance, versatility and adaptability. Braunvieh have a track record for producing a highly marbled product, hybrid vigor, adaptability to survive in most environments, as well as being recognized for both maternal and carcass traits. That’s why Braunvieh have become a top crossbreeding choice for commercial cattlemen looking to add value to their calves’ performance.

 

Building on genetics

Tim Page, Ph.D., professor at the Louisiana State University AgCenter School of Animal Sciences, has observed Braunvieh cattle over the years, procuring a number of Braunvieh bulls for beef-cattle research.

“The cattle industry has been going through some depressed cattle prices, and producers need to look at other ways to market their cattle or add value to their cattle if they’re going to remain competitive and profitable in this industry,” Page said during a past episode of The American Rancher, which is produced by Superior Productions and broadcast on RFD-TV. “You cannot be in this global economy today – especially the livestock industry – unless you’re using every tool that’s out there.”

Page started studying the Braunvieh breed several years ago for their high-quality carcasses. He also found they brought excellent maternal traits with them. Soon after, he researched the top-end Braunvieh genetics and bought some bulls for the LSU AgCenter.

“We retain ownership through the feedyard with a lot of our cattle,” Page said. “Braunvieh-sired calves – out of different breeds of cows – have consistently provided quality carcasses that will grade Choice and have really good feed efficiency and average daily gain.”

And the LSU cattle have the numbers to prove their consistent quality on the rail. In the last year, one pen of 76 Braunvieh-sired calves graded 98 percent Choice or higher.

Page believes the Braunvieh breed can play a significant role in the cattle industry, so producers should be prepared to market bulls to commercial producers for their efficiency, consistent yields and longevity. They should also tout the Braunvieh female for her milking and mothering abilities.

“Where I really see Braunvieh having a bigger place down the road is they are so adaptable to this climate, they are great milkers and good mothers,” Page said. “By making a place for Braunvieh-influenced cattle in our herds to increase production, yearling weights and ADG in the feedyard, we’re going to be producing quality calves. With their advantages, Braunvieh may play a role in our entire female population across the country.”

 

Marketing carcass traits

In Frederick, Okla., Brian Mitchell operates Mitchell Farms, running primarily Red Angus along with some Angus and black-baldy females. For nearly nine years, Mitchell has been breeding his cow herd to Braunvieh bulls. He was hesitant of this cross initially, but it didn’t take long to realize improved results at the feedyard from his Braunvieh-cross calves.

“When my first Braunvieh-cross calf crop was weaned, I saw the benefits of growth with these calves and their excellent feed conversion rate,” Mitchell says. “After weaning, we backgrounded, utilized wheat pasture and saw increased yearling weights.”

Since using Braunvieh in his operation, Mitchell reveals that he has seen his calves perform a quarter to a half pound better in the feeding pen. Good carcass traits are important to him as a producer, and the Braunvieh influence is allowing his cattle to excel at the feedyard.

Marketing his calves was straightforward when buyers first saw this benefit of Braunvieh as well, so Mitchell used it as an important marketing tool.

 

Crossbreeding and adaptability

Todd Hill is a purebred breeder who operates Diamond H Ranch in Childress, Texas. He served on the BAA Board and was the chairman of the Promotion Committee. In his role, he has also helped promote the Braunvieh breed on The American Rancher show.

“The shows highlight producers who are using Braunvieh bulls in their commercial crossbreeding programs,” Hill explains. “This program has done a good job making the Braunvieh [breed] well known in the cattle industry.”

Hill has talked to several commercial producers who have used Braunvieh cattle in their operations, and the future looks optimistic.

“We have interviewed producers who cross to most every breed – Angus, Hereford, Brangus, Brahman … you name it,” Hill says. “The consensus is, ‘My best cow is a Braunvieh bull crossed to [their] breed’.

“In all cases, the cross puts on bone and muscle, adds milk and moves up maturity. In addition, Braunvieh-influenced cattle hang on the rail with higher yield grades and quality grades.”

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