FEATURE many times data collection will come from a group of animals, rather than specific or individual animals. A few examples of the main carcass data EPD’s used in the Brangus breed are marbling or intramuscular fat (IMF), fat thickness, and ribeye area (REA). Currently, breeds including Angus and Hereford have created profit or $ indexes. These are multitrait indexes, which combine single EPD traits into one economic value, which producers can use to make selection decisions. These in structure, are very similar to EPD’s, however, they can give a breeder a more comprehensive prediction on production potential. Each of the breeds has their own set of profit indexes with many being related to beef or carcass value, with the Hereford breed having more maternal type indexes. Gariss believes that within the next five years, Brangus breeders can expect to see some indexes available on their cattle, particularly related to fertility and longevity. He also sees a high potential in creating a tenderness EPD for the Brangus breed. Tenderness, being one of the three driving factors of beef palatability, can potentially add a premium to Brangus beef, which has been proven to have consistent tenderness values by various studies conducted by various universities. When examining data collection from his own herd, Gariss reveals that Brangus cattle will consistently grade with Angus cattle, however, he sees the true advantage in the ability of the Brangus cattle to be higher yielding than the Angus cattle, typically falling in the Yield Grade 1 or 2 category, with a few Yield Grade
3’s and rarely being discounted for being Yield Grade 4’s and 5’s. Another demand for Brangus cattle is within replacement programs. Gariss has seen this demand firsthand, as replacement programs are looking to find ways to improve longevity, feet and leg structure and heat tolerance, while still maintaining a high quality and high yielding carcass. The Brangus breed’s ability to combine longevity and carcass merit in tandem proved lucrative for operations, not only in the South, but also reaching across the Midwest of the country. When asked of the biggest challenge facing the Brangus breed, specifically when it comes to carcass merit, Gariss said, “Getting the word about the Brangus breed and making the benefits of the Brangus breed known to cattle breeders everywhere!” The Brangus breed has many extremely positive characteristics to provide the industry, as this breed combines the traits from two very influential beef
breeds. At the end of the day, carcass quality is influenced before the calf is even born through selection for specific traits in your seedstock, nutritional management of dams and through environmental factors. Through the utilization of genetic parameters, EPD’s and proper herd management, you can positively influence the carcass merit of your herd and your bottom line. ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mallorie Phelps is currently a Graduate Research Assistant in Meat and Animal Science and the 2016 Meat Judging Coach at Texas Tech University. Her hometown is Grandview, Texas and she grew up raising and showing Hereford cattle across the state of Texas, as well as across the country. During this time, Phelps was an active participant in the Hereford breed, both on the state and national level, serving on the National Junior Hereford Board of Directors and as various positions on the Texas state board, including President. Phelps received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science with a Certificate in Meat Science from Texas A&M University in December of 2014. While at Texas A&M, she was a member of the 2013 Texas A&M Meat Judging Team and was awarded First Team All American honors. Phelps is very passionate about beef cattle and meat science and plans to pursue a career in the agricultural industry.
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