Mountains Reign Ranch in Peyton, Colorado

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Diamond - W

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It's interesting that you bring up antagonistic traits. A lot of people don't understand how it works and you can beat the system so to speak but it's difficult. Dealing with the wagyu cattle it is easy to marble but adding size is a challenge. Here is a short summary. The following was not written by me.

There's plenty of breeding terminology out there that as part of your tool box you can sound like you know a thing or two but be careful when it comes to the Antagonist Traits, as it's a bit more complex to understand. However, with a little bit of knowledge, you will be head and shoulders above the rest and can add that to your tool box with confidence.
It also helps explain why marbling has been so hard to bring into herds because it has largely been an antagonistic trait to some of the other key commercially valuable traits that we have traditionally selected for.
slice-for-front-cover-suggestion-1024x380.jpg

An antagonist trait or a negatively correlated trait is one that is linked to another trait inversely. One goes up, the other goes down. Unfavourable genetic correlations are sometimes referred to as genetic antagonisms. Genetic antagonisms cause decreases in genetic merit for some traits when single-trait selection is practiced or when failing to consider selection responses in correlated traits that are not directly under selection.
An obvious genetic antagonism is birth weight and calving ease, as birth weight goes up, calving ease goes down. Another less obvious one is Direct Calving Ease and Calving Ease Daughters. Direct calving ease is heightened by using a bull with essentially lower growth, which can sacrifice the growth potential of his daughters, meaning when they are at calving age may not have enough skeletal frame to maintain the calving ease of the herd. That is why we recommend that as a rule progeny from a heifer bull are not kept as replacements. We all like the curve benders that break these rules, those bulls that have inherent calving ease but solid growth out the other side.
Another relevant antagonistic trait is front claw to growth. As we select for higher growth bulls, so do the claws grow faster and if the leg structure is not adequately correct, the rate of growth of the claw is more than the rate of wear and the result is extended claws and lameness. This is a game of risk and reward, where the stud breeder looks to push the envelope in a performance direction but may inadvertently have to deal with a higher degree of culling to sale day if the wrong bull is used.
IMG_4285-1024x683.jpg

Another common antagonistic trait is mature cow weight to growth. As we select for growth, there is a tendency for mature cow weight in the herd to increase, unless you look for bulls where the mature cow weight ebv is less than the 600 day growth ebv. However, selecting bulls with mature cow weight too low can lead to another antagonism of an increase in calving difficulty.
Now on to marbling. There is a reason not all herds (stud and commercial) have chased this trait. It's a very frustratingly antagonistic trait. If anyone knows Wagyu they will attest to this, yes…they marble but it takes an extra year to finish them. Amongst others, marbling is antagonistic to Eye Muscle Area and Yearling Growth (Koots et all, 1994), or if you like, growth and carcass in general. Over the years there have been curve bending bulls that have broken this antagonism but these bulls have only come to light through the efforts of those that have selected for both traits and measured for marbling. These bulls have grown, had carcass weight and marbled.
It's taken us time to start to get consistent marbling across our sales and it's still a work in progress. Commercial breeders have to make the same choice as we did, to either stay traditional or to chase high value carcass traits that now can add up to a dollar per kg premium (potentially over $10K for a unit of cattle – it's been done now!) or make your store stock very sort after (if they are identifiable – use the Angus Pure tags!).
To get IMF into your herd, you've got to do it in a way that doesn't compromise your other commercially valuable traits, such as growth. Look at your bulls and work out what their average IMF ebv is. To lift that you will have to use bulls with an IMF ebv of at least 2 above what you have been using, easier said than done considering only half the genetic lift comes from the male. The bulls we have put into the 2 year old sale have ideally been selected to have good IMF but also above breed average for growth. Also look at using Heifer Select, a genomics tool through Zoetis, to measure IMF potential in your replacements.

Source of some of this interesting stuff – SELECTING FOR CARCASS MARBLING AND MUSCLING BENEFITS AND PITFALLS, Jim Gosey Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Animal Science Department University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Excellent article. Thank you for sharing!
 

SBMF 2015

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We are a small red angus ranch, looking to make a go of it, even though all I hear about the cattle business is that their is no money in it. From feed prices through the roof, pasture unavailable/unaffordable and the meat packers control over pricing, it doesn't sound like a great time to get into this business, but I would love to hear from those that are making it work and what it takes. Because of our small herd size, we are currently planning to keep all cattle through to finish and give a go at farm to table sales. Any and all input is appreciated. Thank you in advance for those willing to weigh in.
Welcome to CT. As your finding out lots of good advice here.
If you are going to finish all your calves that don't make cows color isn't as important. Red Angus is a great base. I'd cross them with a continental breed. Charolais or Simmental. Hybred vigor in the feed lot will pay dividends. Feeding out cattle takes time. In the beginning when your getting started, when you think their finished feed them for another 30 days and they will be great.
 

wbvs58

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It's interesting that you bring up antagonistic traits. A lot of people don't understand how it works and you can beat the system so to speak but it's difficult. Dealing with the wagyu cattle it is easy to marble but adding size is a challenge. Here is a short summary. The following was not written by me.

There's plenty of breeding terminology out there that as part of your tool box you can sound like you know a thing or two but be careful when it comes to the Antagonist Traits, as it's a bit more complex to understand. However, with a little bit of knowledge, you will be head and shoulders above the rest and can add that to your tool box with confidence.
It also helps explain why marbling has been so hard to bring into herds because it has largely been an antagonistic trait to some of the other key commercially valuable traits that we have traditionally selected for.
slice-for-front-cover-suggestion-1024x380.jpg

An antagonist trait or a negatively correlated trait is one that is linked to another trait inversely. One goes up, the other goes down. Unfavourable genetic correlations are sometimes referred to as genetic antagonisms. Genetic antagonisms cause decreases in genetic merit for some traits when single-trait selection is practiced or when failing to consider selection responses in correlated traits that are not directly under selection.
An obvious genetic antagonism is birth weight and calving ease, as birth weight goes up, calving ease goes down. Another less obvious one is Direct Calving Ease and Calving Ease Daughters. Direct calving ease is heightened by using a bull with essentially lower growth, which can sacrifice the growth potential of his daughters, meaning when they are at calving age may not have enough skeletal frame to maintain the calving ease of the herd. That is why we recommend that as a rule progeny from a heifer bull are not kept as replacements. We all like the curve benders that break these rules, those bulls that have inherent calving ease but solid growth out the other side.
Another relevant antagonistic trait is front claw to growth. As we select for higher growth bulls, so do the claws grow faster and if the leg structure is not adequately correct, the rate of growth of the claw is more than the rate of wear and the result is extended claws and lameness. This is a game of risk and reward, where the stud breeder looks to push the envelope in a performance direction but may inadvertently have to deal with a higher degree of culling to sale day if the wrong bull is used.
IMG_4285-1024x683.jpg

Another common antagonistic trait is mature cow weight to growth. As we select for growth, there is a tendency for mature cow weight in the herd to increase, unless you look for bulls where the mature cow weight ebv is less than the 600 day growth ebv. However, selecting bulls with mature cow weight too low can lead to another antagonism of an increase in calving difficulty.
Now on to marbling. There is a reason not all herds (stud and commercial) have chased this trait. It's a very frustratingly antagonistic trait. If anyone knows Wagyu they will attest to this, yes…they marble but it takes an extra year to finish them. Amongst others, marbling is antagonistic to Eye Muscle Area and Yearling Growth (Koots et all, 1994), or if you like, growth and carcass in general. Over the years there have been curve bending bulls that have broken this antagonism but these bulls have only come to light through the efforts of those that have selected for both traits and measured for marbling. These bulls have grown, had carcass weight and marbled.
It's taken us time to start to get consistent marbling across our sales and it's still a work in progress. Commercial breeders have to make the same choice as we did, to either stay traditional or to chase high value carcass traits that now can add up to a dollar per kg premium (potentially over $10K for a unit of cattle – it's been done now!) or make your store stock very sort after (if they are identifiable – use the Angus Pure tags!).
To get IMF into your herd, you've got to do it in a way that doesn't compromise your other commercially valuable traits, such as growth. Look at your bulls and work out what their average IMF ebv is. To lift that you will have to use bulls with an IMF ebv of at least 2 above what you have been using, easier said than done considering only half the genetic lift comes from the male. The bulls we have put into the 2 year old sale have ideally been selected to have good IMF but also above breed average for growth. Also look at using Heifer Select, a genomics tool through Zoetis, to measure IMF potential in your replacements.

Source of some of this interesting stuff – SELECTING FOR CARCASS MARBLING AND MUSCLING BENEFITS AND PITFALLS, Jim Gosey Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Animal Science Department University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
That sounds like an article that would more likely be written in Australia, referring to EBV's, 600 day EBV, IMF EBV and Heifer Select. All Australian terminologies.

Ken
 
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Welcome to CT. As your finding out lots of good advice here.
If you are going to finish all your calves that don't make cows color isn't as important. Red Angus is a great base. I'd cross them with a continental breed. Charolais or Simmental. Hybred vigor in the feed lot will pay dividends. Feeding out cattle takes time. In the beginning when your getting started, when you think their finished feed them for another 30 days and they will be great.
Thank you for the advice. I am not sure what you mean by vigor. Specifically, what vigor would I gain in the feedlot by crossing? Also, how do I avoid diluting the RA in the heifers that we keep. My intent is to keep heifers to grow herd and feed out steers.
 

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Thank you for the advice. I am not sure what you mean by vigor. Specifically, what vigor would I gain in the feedlot by crossing? Also, how do I avoid diluting the RA in the heifers that we keep. My intent is to keep heifers to grow herd and feed out steers.
If you decide to use A.I. You could A.I. Red Angus then lease a bull of a different breed to clean up.
When you cross two pure bred animals the off spring is a First Cross (F1). F1's naturally have hybred vigor. Also called Heterosis: the tendency of a crossbred individual to show qualities superior to those of both parents.Also called hybrid vigor.

F1's usually have heavier birth weights, and more growth than pure breds.

Besides my own cows, I'm Herdsmen for a farm that feed out cattle for a living. Their cow herd is black Angus based and they use Charolais bulls with a Hereford thrown in every few years. We get heavier finishing weights because of the Charolais influence and better quality & marbling because of the Angus.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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The research shows that BA is the highest marbling BRITISH breed (I would "assume" RA is up there also) and Simmental are the highest marbling CONTINENTAL breed, so for feedlot cattle, crossing w/ Simmental is beneficial. I would guess Charolais are the heaviest gaining?? but Charolais are very poor at marbling and low on maternal traits. You would want to use all their calves in a terminal program. If there was any chance you wanted crossbred COWS, SimAngus are the ultimate. Make SimAngus cows and cross with Charolais - money making cross for terminal offspring.
 

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5 cows (4 bred) and 3 steers right now, but looking to grow in a smart way. My intent is to build the herd through cow calf operation and keep all the way through finishing, keep only good heifers, the rest are beef. I have 80 acres, but have been researching pasture lease to grow herd. I am only 20 miles from Colorado Springs, so there is a substantial and growing market here. Why let the buyer slice and dice, vice packaging?
two reasons, first USDA stamp may be ness in your area, second when you package meat the customer is seldom happy the way YOU do it and they squawk about "trim fat, too much bone, too thick/thin, and it just is not worth the hassle
 
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The research shows that BA is the highest marbling BRITISH breed (I would "assume" RA is up there also) and Simmental are the highest marbling CONTINENTAL breed, so for feedlot cattle, crossing w/ Simmental is beneficial. I would guess Charolais are the heaviest gaining?? but Charolais are very poor at marbling and low on maternal traits. You would want to use all their calves in a terminal program. If there was any chance you wanted crossbred COWS, SimAngus are the ultimate. Make SimAngus cows and cross with Charolais - money making cross for terminal offspring.
 
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Yes on paper this works. My life experiences have been that Charolais bulls throw to big bones of calves and their off colors get docked for feeder cattle. If you grow 10 calves out of 10 cows and they average 50 pounds less at weaning, you still got same amount of beef that 11 cows with 50 pounds heavier calves would get if you lost one calf at birth. For cow calf operators, our biggest challenge has been and always will be having live calves that thrive and don’t die. Even in the crappier times of the year with cold, rain, drought, or flies!! Growth is what most cattle people want, but it usually comes at a price of death at birth or lack of vigor when born from my experiences!
 

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Yes on paper this works. My life experiences have been that Charolais bulls throw to big bones of calves and their off colors get docked for feeder cattle. If you grow 10 calves out of 10 cows and they average 50 pounds less at weaning, you still got same amount of beef that 11 cows with 50 pounds heavier calves would get if you lost one calf at birth. For cow calf operators, our biggest challenge has been and always will be having live calves that thrive and don’t die. Even in the crappier times of the year with cold, rain, drought, or flies!! Growth is what most cattle people want, but it usually comes at a price of death at birth or lack of vigor when born from my experiences!
I can't remember the last time I pulled a calf out of a cow. Our 1,400lb avg F1 char/ang cows routinely have 90+ lb calves. But you have to breed for it. I very rarely save heifers out of low birth wt bulls. In our operation every calf out of a hfr needs to end up in the feed lot.

The packing plant we sell to has 3,800 hd shackle space a day. The number two hide color of all cattle killed there is smoke ( Charolais influence). We feed out cattle on slats. Simmental's have to much bone to be able to stand on slats very long, their joints give out. But the Charolais do just fine. The F1 chars usually finish 150 lbs heavier than the straight bred blks. That adds up when your selling live.
 

jschoolcraft86

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I can't remember the last time I pulled a calf out of a cow. Our 1,400lb avg F1 char/ang cows routinely have 90+ lb calves. But you have to breed for it. I very rarely save heifers out of low birth wt bulls. In our operation every calf out of a hfr needs to end up in the feed lot.

The packing plant we sell to has 3,800 hd shackle space a day. The number two hide color of all cattle killed there is smoke ( Charolais influence). We feed out cattle on slats. Simmental's have to much bone to be able to stand on slats very long, their joints give out. But the Charolais do just fine. The F1 chars usually finish 150 lbs heavier than the straight bred blks. That adds up when your selling live.
Charolais do well down here in south texas too. When you're running them behind some tigerstripes it tends to work out pretty well I'm seeing. Maybe not the best answer for all herds and locations but that's pretty much par for the course
 

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For a niche red angus herd in Colorado next to an urban area I still think you will want to decide whether to raise just real good beef by staying with pure red angus or add the marbling of akaushi and perhaps be able to get double the money of real good beef. Your price per pound is going to have much more to do with profitability than the number of pounds assuming you can get them to the 800-900# carcass range.
 

GoWyo

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800-900# range???? - with RA or Akaushi cross? - don't think so - unless you're going to feed out to a lot older animal. That is a 1400# animal.
I don't know. That's what I feed mine to because that's where the money gets made. 850 lbs. at $2.75 on the rail is $2,337.50 a head. Figure I have $700 in feed to get them there from a 600 lb. weaner steer that was worth $1050 or so this fall. My purebreds do it and my cows aren't anything special EPD-wise, but they get the job done.
 

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800-900# range???? - with RA or Akaushi cross? - don't think so - unless you're going to feed out to a lot older animal. That is a 1400# animal.
PRIME TAKES TIME. ;) 18-22mos 1,400-1,500lbs. Our load last month went like this: 10hd -5strs, 5hfrs. 2 smokes, 8 blks. 1,450 live avg. 4 prime, several CAB. 1- YG4,The rest YG 3s.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I only finish a few for freezer beef, but they average 750# (768# this year), I get $3.50/hanging wt. = $2625 I feed whole shell corn, bought by the ton. Probably the cheapest ration. I calculate about 1.5 Ton/hd, so $425. Protein pellets $90, grass in our sacrifice winter lot. That gives me about
But, I have PB Simmental. They are 700# when I start them. A 1200# RA cow bred PB RA or Wagyu is not going to make a 1400# steer unless it has a lot of age. Mine were worth $1015 at starting age (700 x $1.45) = profit of $1095/hd for 210 days labor.
I'm not trying to argue - just trying to give them info that is helpful for what they have and plan to do.
@SBMF 2015 - were yours out of 1200# dam and sires? This is what I'm trying to point out to MRR. I could easily get mine to those weights. I don't shoot for prime - choice is plenty good enough and as young as mine are, they are EXTREMELY tender. Time is money. I am making plenty of profit/hd with little time and output. (and mine will go Choice - YG-2)
 

GoWyo

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PRIME TAKES TIME. ;) 18-22mos 1,400-1,500lbs. Our load last month went like this: 10hd -5strs, 5hfrs. 2 smokes, 8 blks. 1,450 live avg. 4 prime, several CAB. 1- YG4,The rest YG 3s.
What was your cost of gain on those, if you tracked it? I haven't aimed at prime, and an eyeball of the rib steaks puts them in the Choice grade. Calves we wind up feeding are born late March to end of April, weaned in late September to early October and just backgrounded on grass hay til late January to frame them up. Processors are busy with fair animals in August through early September, so we shoot for mid to late September processing date. That will put them at 17-18 months old. I have considered shooting for July processing, but would have to put them on feed first of November and finish weights will be lighter, but my total cost will not be much different.

Jeanne - I don't know if my market will bear $3.50/#, but that is a nice price to shoot for around a more urban market.

As for a red angus based steer getting to 1400#, I suppose it comes down to genetics and the feed ration. Some will and some won't. You don't find out what you really have until you finish your own. I know a lot of folks who claim they have 1200# cows around here, but when I see them they look the same size as mine, which run 1200# on the small end and 1500+# on the big end in a BCS 5.5.

For us, feeding the steers is a way to add value to the steers that don't make bulls and also find out how the plainer calves will perform.

I have fed heifers in the past, but this year with the cost of feed it didn't seem worth it, especially when they finish more in the 1200-1300# range. The feedlot I send them to puts them all in one or two pens and pro rates the feed, so it costs the same to feed a heifer as a steer on a per head basis and just doesn't pay as well.
 
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