Small herd cross breeding system

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chaded
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Small herd cross breeding system

Post by chaded » Tue May 26, 2020 8:36 pm

I was reading an article on this topic and it got me thinking about what I am currently doing and whether I should change course a little. I know that (at least for me) Heterosis can be a little difficult to quantify, but for the sake of discussion let’s assume everything is of equal genetic quality.

I have a small herd of 14 now, will be adding a few as well. I have access to good quality purebred black angus and Herefords. My herd is mostly black angus and they are bred to a hereford bull.

My plan has been, use black angus cows and hereford bull and sell all the calves. I would buy replacement black angus cows. The article had mentioned maternal Heterosis which I’ve thought about before but with my situation replacements is a bit of an issue doing that.

I guess what I am wondering is, with a small herd is my current system the best I can do or should I keep my own replacements and switch sire breeds back and forth? Or something else? I realize I can’t fully capitalize on maximum Heterosis but would like to get the most out of it. My calves currently go to the sale barn.



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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by Brute 23 » Tue May 26, 2020 9:30 pm

That's a toss up. Logistically and financially what you are doing is the most efficient. With that said, it can be very rewarding to raise your own replacements and see them develope in to good cows.
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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by Nesikep » Tue May 26, 2020 9:49 pm

As much as people talk about heterosis, I've never actually seen it pan out.. I run a small herd too (22 mommas), they're all crossbred, I've rotated bulls, breeds, etc.. but actually found my best animals were the linebred ones..
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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by bird dog » Tue May 26, 2020 10:00 pm

The main problem with small players (and some not so small like me) is having a place to keep your replacement heifers away from the bull. Everyone will tell you its not financially worth it to raise your own and everyone is right but even when I buy some top quality replacements, they don't perform any better than the ones I raise from my mixed herd of commercial cows.

So I go both ways. I keep 3 or 4 a year from the best cows that calve early in my cycle, because thats about all my small pasture where I keep them will hold. Then I pick up a couple during the year at the sale barn usually at a herd sell out. It works out to about a 10% replacement per year.

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by SBMF 2015 » Wed May 27, 2020 6:19 am

Chaded your about the same location north and south as me. As far as I'm concerned F1 baldie mommas are about the best you can get.
It seems that the best cross hfrs that I save almost always out preform pure breds I buy. There raised in the environment that they will have to preform for the rest of their lives. They've been exposed to my vaccines and feed types.
If your tight on pen space a good time to try to retain some replacements would be a year that you change bulls. Once your done with your bull for the year sell him then you could winter your hfr calves with your cows. Wait until your ready to turn out your new bull the next year to bring him home and your set.
Even if you you don't save any replacements you are building a good reputation for selling feeder cattle that buyers will fight over.
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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by chaded » Wed May 27, 2020 6:35 am

I just picked up a 15-17 acre piece that adjoins my hayfield. In the next few months I am going to have a fence around it. I do fall calving so calves are on moms all through winter and then they will all get weaned and kicked into this new piece to graze for the spring/summer. So I don’t have any issues with where to put them.

I guess what I am wondering is, does having the f1 cow make up for the Heterosis that will be lost in its calf. There will still be some but not full like a f1. I suspect it is probably a wash between the two?

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by Brute 23 » Wed May 27, 2020 11:58 am

chaded wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 6:35 am
I just picked up a 15-17 acre piece that adjoins my hayfield. In the next few months I am going to have a fence around it. I do fall calving so calves are on moms all through winter and then they will all get weaned and kicked into this new piece to graze for the spring/summer. So I don’t have any issues with where to put them.

I guess what I am wondering is, does having the f1 cow make up for the Heterosis that will be lost in its calf. There will still be some but not full like a f1. I suspect it is probably a wash between the two?
In theory to maximize the cross you would take that F1 out to another different breed. Going back to an Angus bull is not a bad thing though either.

I know these crosses have become a popular discussion on this board but dont get hung up on it. With the ability to retain heifers you also have the option to breed up your herd even if it stays Angus. Just because you add "Hereford" doesnt mean you automatically get better calves. That Hereford or what ever you outcross to needs to be as good or better than a bull of the same breed.
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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by Rmc » Wed May 27, 2020 7:13 pm

If it was me . I would change to a black bull and herford or other less pricey feed effcient cows.. then you would be better off if you decided to keep replacement heifers.a 3/4angus 1/4 herford calf will usually sell for more then a 3/4herford 1/4 angus calf. And usually non black hided cows or heifers are going to be less costly then your angus cows.

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by chaded » Wed May 27, 2020 7:30 pm

Rmc wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 7:13 pm
If it was me . I would change to a black bull and herford or other less pricey feed effcient cows.. then you would be better off if you decided to keep replacement heifers.a 3/4angus 1/4 herford calf will usually sell for more then a 3/4herford 1/4 angus calf. And usually non black hided cows or heifers are going to be less costly then your angus cows.
So sell off pretty much the whole herd of cows and buy new ones?

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by Rmc » Wed May 27, 2020 10:48 pm

Not necessarily. Just buy a black bull for you next bull. Then as you replace cows replace them with herford ect cows.if they raise a good calf keep them. If not cull them . When increasing the herd purchase herfords ect. As well

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by wbvs58 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:53 am

I have a small herd of up to 30 Angus cows. It has been going for about 13 years now. I have never felt the need for cross breeding. My weaning weights are 2nd to none with the early calves going over 350 kg and most years will have 1 or two over 400 kg (880 lb) just on grass and milk. In my area I think the straight Angus are hard to beat.

Ken

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by chaded » Sun May 31, 2020 6:00 am

Well, I got talking to the place where I bought my bull (registered hereford breeder) and they make Baldy replacements to sell. I’m likely going that route and will get a third breed bull for terminal calves.

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by TennesseeTuxedo » Sun May 31, 2020 7:18 am

chaded wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 6:00 am
Well, I got talking to the place where I bought my bull (registered hereford breeder) and they make Baldy replacements to sell. I’m likely going that route and will get a third breed bull for terminal calves.
Excellent idea. Baldy heifers are in demand in most places.
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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by jschoolcraft86 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:03 pm

I like the F1 replacements with a terminal bull idea. You won’t get much heterosis from angus x Hereford since they’re both English breeds I don’t think? But some kind of continental as the terminal would put some pep in the calves. Charolais cross calves are starting to give black calves a run at the barns here.

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Re: Small herd cross breeding system

Post by sstterry » Thu Jun 11, 2020 4:51 am

Here is a good study about British vs Continental Cross-breeding. I would add to that a British-Continental cross also gives other benefits such as more resistance to pinkeye ect.

https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-803/400-803.html

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