Beef Cattle In the United States there are more than 80 recognized breeds of beef cattle. A breed is a group of animals of common descent, possessing distinctive characteristics that distinguish them from other groups within the same species. When you examine the characteristics of any breed there are always some advantages and some disadvantages. British Breeds: Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn Advantages Low birth weight High fertility Moderate milk production Moderate frame size Disadvantages Lower growth rate European Breeds: Charolais, Gelbvieh, Maine-Anjou, Pinzgauer, Simmental, South Devon,Tarentaise Advantages High growth rate Larger frame size High milk production Disadvantages Increased dystocia Increased maintenance Shorthorn PROFILE From England Color Red, red and white, or roan Size Mature Bulls: 1,000-1,300 lbs Mature Cows: 800-1,200 lbs Popularity Factors Dual purpose breed for milk and meat. Gelbvieh PROFILE From Germany Color Red Size Mature Bulls: 1,000-1,300 lbs Mature Cows: 800-1,200 lbs Popularity Factors Fleshy under the throat. Good mothers who have a calf a year. Charolais PROFILE From France Color White Size Mature Bulls: 2,800-3,300 lbs Mature Cows: 1,400-2,500 lbs Popularity Factors Long bodied large cattle. Heavily muscled. Brahman PROFILE From India Color White to grey, red to black. Size Mature Bulls: 2,800-3,300 lbs Mature Cows: 1,400-2,500 lbs Popularity Factors Insect and heat resistant, able to survive on little, poor feed. Has sweat glands. Texas Longhorn PROFILE From North America Color Diverse coloring Size Mature Bulls: 2,800-3,300 lbs Mature Cows: 1,400-2,500 lbs Popularity Factors Can eat very poor vegetation. Lean beef…and really cool horns. Hereford Black and Red Angus Simmental Hereford PROFILE From Hereford, England Color Red or Black with white head, legs, and underline. Size Mature Bulls: 2,000-2,500 lbs Mature Cows: 1,00-1600 lbs Popularity Factors Excellent mothers. Very adaptable to any environment, juicy tender meat. Very easy to handle. Angus PROFILE From Scotland Color Black hair and skin or red hair and skin. Size Mature Bulls: 1,000-1,300 lbs Mature Cows: 800-1,200 lbs Popularity Factors Excellent mothers. Naturally no horns, and natural marbling for tasty, tender beef. Very easy to handle. Simmental PROFILE From Switzerland, came to the United States in 1971 Color pale yellow-gold all the way to very dark red or black Size Mature Bulls: 2,200-2,800 lbs Mature Cows: 1,100-1,500 lbs Popularity Factors Gentle and large with heavy milk production. Very lean meat. Very easy to handle. Breeds of Beef Cattle There are approximately 250 breeds of cattle recognized throughout the world, and several hundreds of breeds that are not recognized. The exact count is impossible to determine because other breeds continue to be imported, and crossing existing breeds continuously creates new breeds. Breed Characteristics The major characteristics for beef producers: Mature body size Milk production Age at puberty Environmental adaptability Rate and efficiency of gain Muscle expression Cutability Marbling Mature Body Size: If various sizes of cattle are fed for the same length of time, cattle with a larger body size will have faster, more efficient gains, lower marbling, less fat, and improved cutablity. Mature cows weigh less than mature bulls. Larger mature size results in: Heifers being older and/or heavier at puberty Heavier birth weights (often associated with difficult calving) Faster rate of gain Heavier weaning weights Milk Production The Main reason for increasing milk production in beef cattle is to increase weaning weights of calves. Heavy milk production can be bad— Heavy milking cows often produce milk at the expense of their body functions (they get skinny) Thin females are less likely to come into heat and have a harder time getting pregnant Heavy milkers are slow to cycle which lengthens breeding interval and reduces general reproductive efficiency. Muscle Expression Leaner meat means more muscle Most breeds that are ranked above average in muscle expression are also above average in size. One concern with beef producers is that muscularity appears to affect reproductive efficiency (calving difficulties with bigger calves). Age at Puberty Age at puberty is important because cattle that reach puberty at an earlier age conceive at an earlier age. These cattle have the potential to have a long productive life (economically important to cattle producers) Age at puberty is linked to body size, milking potential, genetic classification, and environmental factors. Smaller cattle with higher milk yield have been known to mature earlier. Cattle exposed to harsh environmental conditions, whose nutritional requirements are not being met, reach puberty later. Cutablity and Marbling Cutability is the percent of lean in a slaughter animal and is directly affected by an animal’s muscle structure and directly related to nutrition. Marbling (intramuscular fat) is often referred to as taste fat. Cattle that mature early and have high milk yields are usually high in marbling.