July/August 2021 California Cattleman

Page 86

THE QUALITY BREED IN THE

FEEDYARD from Beefmaster Breeders United

“At one time, Beefmasters were the animal that if you put them on live, you were going to take a $1.00 to $2.00 hit…Now they’re showing premiums as high as $100 per head or better,” said Mark Sebranek, chief operations officer for Nextgen Cattle Feeding’s Riverbend Feedyard. From docility to dry-matter conversion and dressing percent, Sebranek says Beefmaster x Angus cattle are “the quality breed in the feedyard.” “For the longest time, I thought there wasn’t anything better than an Angus x Charolais cross in the industry,” Sebranek said. “I thought the ‘smokey’ was the best animal out there. But over the last few years working with the Beefmasters, I have a hard time not picking the Angus x Beefmaster as the quality breed in the feedyard.” Sebranek said genetic traits are easily passed on when breeding to Beefmaster. He explained when crossing with Angus cattle, “the IMF seems to really influence them coming off the Angus side into the Beefmasters.” “From there the Beefmasters bring the Angus genetics a whole bunch of quality in other places like the dressing percent, performance, as well as the size and scale of the animal,” Sebranek said. “It all goes back to the hardiness of the animal, their heterosis. Due to that heterosis they’re not as much maintenance. Whether we’re down in the south or further north like here in Kansas, they acclimate just fine to the weather. Ultimately, without issues caused by linebreeding like we may see in some other breeds, on average Beefmasters are just stronger, stouter and healthier.” Lawrence Makuakane of Ella Mae Farms is a Beefmaster breeder in Kentucky who runs calves through Riverbend Feedyard. Makuakane began introducing Beefmaster genetics into his commercial herd in 2016. He now runs a cooperative of local commercial producers. Within a 20-month timeframe, the co-op will have run six pot loads of cattle through Riverbend Feedyard. At Riverbend Feedyard, very few health issues are seen in the Beefmaster and Beefmaster-crossbred cattle with 86 California Cattleman July • August 2021

only an occasional respiratory issue. Sebranek says these occasional issues are uncommon and much more infrequent than those in standard English breeds. “One of the biggest reasons I initially transitioned my herd from just running all black cattle was the Beefmaster’s resistance to disease,” Makuakane said. “They’re less susceptible to disease, to bugs and to the climate. All those things really play out in the feedyard. Those are variables you have to consider passing on in your herd as intrinsic value, especially for retained owners.” In addition to being known for their health and heartiness, Beefmasters have earned a reputation in feedyards for their disposition. Makuakane said “Beefmasters are more docile, and that docility translates into more profitability.” If a calf can get up to the bunk and eat, then go lay down and not burn off all that weight, he’s doing his job,” Makuakane said. “The Beefmaster influence does that for us.” Sebranek echoed Makuakane explaining just how much of a difference disposition can make on gains and therefore profitability in the feedyard. “Disposition is huge in the feedyard, because we really have to watch the high-headed cattle,” Sebranek said. “I mean we’ll see them come off the trucks and a lot of cattle will have their heads up in the air and you’ve got to be prepared because they’re going to eat you. Usually with a higher-headed animal that animal is not eating like he’s supposed to because he’s always running to the back of the pen if someone goes by or is washing tanks etc. Then he’s running back up to the front. If he’s running, he’s wasting energy and taking weight off. When animals are that highheaded, they’re really only comfortable when we’re shut down at night and no one is around. We don’t see that in the Beefmasters. These cattle are easy to move, easy to work, they’re just easy. You may see the occasional high-headed ...CONTINUED ON PAGE 88


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