If cattle producers want to increase profitability and whole system efficiency, reproduction can have one of the greatest impacts simply because even small calves are worth more than no calves.



One of the real puzzles in the beef industry is why don’t more beef cattle producers crossbreed cows? As we chase efficiency and ways to be more profitable, think about this, crossbred cows produce on average 1.5 more calves in their lifetime, mainly because they stay in the herd on average 1.5 years longer. 

Crossbred cows also have an approximately 2 percent increase in weaning ratio, wean calves that are 18 percent heavier, and those calves gain 0.1 pounds/day more throughout their lifetime.

If maintaining the right color is of importance, there are many breeds that will help maximize growth and are available in black, red, white and every shade in between.



Maybe the best scenario of both worlds is to utilize RFI in a production index as described above, and select for efficient high growth bulls in a crossbreeding program. Thereby, taking advantage of the benefits of both heterosis and feed efficiency. 

Feed efficiency is an important tool for  selection that when used in conjunction with other tools, can have a beneficial impact on profitability.



However, for breeding cows and bulls, feed efficiency or RFI is just one aspect of production that should be considered as a selection criteria.  The most important measure of production efficiency is producing the most pounds of quality beef per unit of forage or concentrate.  

This index clearly differs by cattle type, reproductive performance, forage/feed type, and the environment of each production enterprise.  

If cattle producers want to increase profitability and whole system efficiency, reproduction can have one of the greatest impacts simply because even small calves are worth more than no calves.