Beef Buzz News
Is the 'Arms Race for Muscle' in Beef Cattle a Winning Proposition?
Wed, 13 Jun 2012 13:10:59 CDT
Dr. Dave Lalman on the muscling "arms race" in beef cattle production.
In the third part of a four-part Beef Buzz series, Dr. Dave Lalman continues to talk efficiency. In this portion of his address at the recent Alltech International Symposium on the Future of Agriculture held in Lexington, Kentucky, Lalman talks about breeding to optimize particular traits.
He says beef producers are in a race for muscle. Purebred breeders are constantly trying to improve the amount and quality of muscle in their breeds.
Once again, Lalman says, the efficiency question arises: “How much muscle do you need in a cow that is going to be part of your operation for 10 or 12 years?” Increased muscling means increased maintenance costs. Do the increased maintenance costs over time erase any value added in the calves sold?
Lalman says there is a balance to be struck. He says breeders need to ponder advice like that once given by Dr. Rick Borden: “To breed for optimum means to have a target in sight beyond which you don’t want to go. If your goal is to maintain an optimal level for any trait, the evidence of your accomplishment is not visible change, but lack of it.”
Lalman says that commercial producers and purebred breeders have somewhat differing motives in that the breeders are following the market signals which say “more is better.” Commercial producers, on the other hand, need to pay more careful attention to efficiency and the long term bottom line.
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