Frame Size Continued from page 20

per hundredweight for 425-pound av erage weight and $183 per hundred weight for 500-pound average weight. That’s an income of $76,156 for Herd 1 vs. $59,475 for Herd 2, or a difference of $16,681. For that extra money, you are not using any addi tional feed resources, which typically make up the bulk of costs and have the most environmental impact. By crossbreeding, producers also benefit from heterosis, which means survival traits and maternal attri butes of crossbred dams get a boost (i.e., improved performance) just because of improved gene combina tions. Picking the right breeds is an important factor here. The American Aberdeen breed provides an oppor tunity to moderate frame size while maintaining desirable growth and size. Research at DREC has shown that F 1 Aberdeen-cross cows aver age around 1,000 pounds, whereas conventional crossbred cows aver age around 1,300 pounds 7 . That is a 300-pound decrease in cow size in one generation. Even though that is a large size decrease, cows can still produce calves with desirable growth and carcass characteristics, providing an important role that the American Aberdeen Association can fill. In summary, determining the “right” size cattle is dependent on production goals and income sourc es. Even so, bigger does not always mean better. Therefore, it is critical that producers consider options to

increasing the number of calves produced can be much more efficient while moderating cow size. For example, consider two herds of cows. Herd 1 has an average cow weight of 1,100 pounds whereas Herd 2 has an average cow weight of 1,500 pounds. With a daily feed intake per cow of 16 or 20 pounds per day, respectively 6 , we could run 90 Herd 1 cows and would need just over 525,000 pounds of forage for a year. For that same amount of forage, we could run 72 cows with Herd 2. That’s 18 more cows in Herd 1 than Herd 2, which means 18 more potential progeny. Of course, smaller cows will produce smaller offspring. Similar cows at DREC produced, on average, 427-pound calves (Herd 1-type cows; majority have Aberdeen Angus influence of more than one quarter) and 500-pound calves (Herd 2-type cows; conventional-type cows). That’s a difference of 73 pounds per calf, but the additional numbers of 427-pound calves more than makes up for smaller size. Consider if 90 percent of each herd weans their calves. That is 81 cows in Herd 1 and 65 cows in Herd 2, resulting in 37,149 pounds of calf weaned for Herd 1 and 32,500 pounds of calf weaned for Herd 2 (a difference of 4,649 pounds). As of April 30, 2019, feeder steers in North Dakota were selling at $205

1/4 Horizontal, 4C The Ledger Clear Valley Farm Summer 2019

maintain efficient production systems while also maximizing profit. Recent research at DREC and NDSU’s Fargo, N.D., campus also shows that even within size groups, variability exists (i.e., nutritionally efficient cows can be found in small cows 1 ). This sug gests, with the right selection tools, frame size does not dictate every trait and can be used to change the aver age. TL Hulsman Hanna, L. L. 2017. Genetic selec tion for cow efficiency: what is the next step? Proceedings from 2017 World Cattlemen’s Cow Efficiency Congress, Manning, ND. 2 Killinger, K. M., C. R. Calkins, W. J. Umberger, D. M. Feuz and K. M. Eskridge. 2004. Consumer visual preference and value for beef steaks differing in marbling level and color. Journal of Animal Science 82(11): 3288-3293. doi: 10.2527/2004.82113288x 3 Leick, C. M., J. M. Behrends, T. B. Schmidt and M. W. Schilling. 2012. Impact of price and thick ness on consumer selection of ribeye, sirloin, and top loin steaks. Meat Science 91(1): 8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2011.11.021 4 Maples, J. G., J. L. Lusk and D. S. Peel. 2018. Unintended consequences of the quest for increased efficiency in beef cattle: when big ger isn’t better. Food Policy 74: 65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2017.11.005 5 Maddock, R. J. 2017. Impact of produc tion scheme and frame size on carcass traits. Proceedings from 2017 World Cattlemen’s Cow Efficiency Congress, Manning, N.D. 6 Swanson, K. C. 2017. Nutritional effects of frame size on efficiency and longevity of beef cows. Proceedings from 2017 World Cattlemen’s Cow Efficiency Congress, Manning, N.D. 7 Ringwall, K. A. 2017. What is right for the beef business? A discussion on cattle size. Proceedings from 2017 World Cattlemen’s Cow Efficiency Congress, Manning, N.D. Footnotes: 1


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