Hereford Genetics Offer Key Traits to More Efficiently Feed Growing PopulationWed, 26 Mar 2014 15:55:03 CDT
Jack Ward, chief operating officer and director of breed improvement for the Hereford Association tells Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays that Hereford breeders are ready to step up and play a big role in providing high-quality protein for the world's population that is expected to double by 2050.
On survey after survey regarding beef improvement, Ward said cattle producers consistently say they want calving ease, low maintenance cattle with good dispositions, cattle that are efficient, convert well, and have as much in-carcass merit as possible. He said the Hereford breed is poised to help deliver those traits.
"There is a demand out there for some hybrid big-ear and heterosis in the cow herd and that's been the biggest driving force behind the demand for Hereford cattle over the last few years over the fact that they work so well on the predominantly black commercial cow herd in providing some heterosis for fertility, longevity, feed efficiency, health and some of those things that are kind of hard to measure. A little dose of Hereford heterosis really helps."
He said his organization is "continuing to build and work on trying to provide the right kind of information to make those kind of selections and provide the commercial customer with the product they want."
Another issue that cattlemen are beginning to take notice of is the size of the commercial cows has continued to get larger and larger over the years. While that has helped produce a net increase in pounds of beef produced with a reduction in the number of animals, recent studies by OSU's Dave Lallman indicate those large sizes may not be as efficient at delivering profits back to calf producers who have to bring their calves up to higher weaning weights.
"We don't have the kind of environment and the resources to produce the size of cow and the amount of milk that we need to produce more weaning weight. So, it's a challenge there, but we want to genetically continue to push the envelope on performance because we know we've got to get them to perform in the feedyard, but not overdo it where we get our cow herd too big."
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