Beefmaster is a synthetic breed that is genetically composed of ± 50% Brahman, 25% Hereford and 25% Shorthorn blood. The result was the Beefmaster that inherited the best characteristics of each individual breed. This was achieved after years of selective breeding, careful experiments and vicious culling of unwanted animals.
Throughout the history of the Beefmaster breed the main objective was meat production. The best cattle produce the most high quality meat at the lowest cost, which means more profit. The breeding and management program that is followed is based on nature's oldest law: 'Survival of the fittest.' Upon selection six characteristics are required. The required economically important traits are: fertility, temperament, weight, conformation, hardiness and milk production.
Fertility is the most important economic trait that should be considered in the selection of beef cattle. Every female two years and older, should wean a good calf every year under natural veld conditions, if not, she should be culled.
Heifers are mated for the first time at age 12-15 months. All age groups are bred under veld conditions and pastures, in a breeding season of about 60 to 90 days. Each female must become pregnant and wean a calf with a weaning index above 90 otherwise she will be culled. No excuses and no exceptions. On the bull's side, fertility means the ability to cover the most cows during the breeding season. This emphasis on fertility, will lead to increased profits.
Docile cattle are easier and cheaper to handle, have better growth and achieve better prices. Docile cattle also cause less injury and loss of weight and require less labour. Beefmaster cattle are known for their easy handling, although a cow's mothering ability and protection of her calf should not be confused with bad temperament. Beefmasters are gentle, intelligent cattle and respond to the treatment they receive from their owners. Cattle with good temperament are a pleasure to work with and are more profitable. Differences in temperament are already observed before weaning and calves with poor temperament are culled at weaning. After weaning temperament is constantly monitored and animals that show unacceptable behaviour are culled.
The heavier a calf weighs when it is marketable the more profitable it is for the owner. Weaning weight largely reflects the milking the ability of the dam, but also gives an indication of the calf's own growth potential. Post-weaning gain is an indication of the ability of the calf to gain weight, it is based on the calf’s own genetic potential.
Calves are reared under identical veld conditions and selection takes place based on weaning weight, yearling weight and weight at 18 months. Official SA Studbook data is used. All calves with an index below 90 are culled. Herd sires are selected based on their individual performance for growth. Bulls with above average weaning weights and post-weaning gain will transmit these traits genetically to their offspring. During the final selection of herd bulls their dams’ estimated breeding values as well as each bull’s own estimated breeding values are considered. After the initial selection for weight gain females are not culled on their own weight, but for weaning a light-weight calf. Beefmaster bulls can change the profitability of your farming enterprise. They produce good calves with heavy weaning and yearling weights.
Conformation is defined as 'type on the hook”, and not “type on the hoof'. The ideal conformation is exemplified by that animal whose carcass will yield the most kilograms of tender lean beef per kilogram live weight. Visual characteristics are also evaluated, a bull should show masculinity, a clean underline, optimal scrotum size, outstanding musculature, and have ample length. A cow must be a feminine, have a strong functional udder, with good teats. Bulls and cows that show any signs of structural defects such as problems with feet and legs are culled.
Hardiness is genetic trait that can be measured by continued production and longevity. Hardy cattle has the ability to stay healthy and produce under veld conditions and in different climates with very little assistance. Individual animals that have the ability to carry on their relentless production assignment year after year with minimum assistance.
A bull must remain attentive and fertile and be able to cover cows for several years. Cows must produce an acceptable calf each year.
Beefmaster cows are selected for milk production by evaluating the weaning weights of their calves. More milk means heavier calves at weaning. A cow must suckle her calf for 7 months or more, and maintain her own body under veld conditions. Udders have a big influence on milk production and should be well developed with uniform teats. Good udders are compact and have a great capacity, well attached but should not have a fleshy appearance. Bulls from a carefully selected herd are likely to breed daughters with good milk production and should transfer the characteristics which they inherited from their mothers to their offspring. Weak calves as well as their mothers should be culled.
Beefmaster are characterized by their milking ability. The most profitable way for the growth of a calf is the proper use of it’s mother’s milk.
Science and experience have taught us that we can maximize production efficiency through the use of crossbreeding. Beefmasters are the ideal breed for beef cattle crossbreeding programs for a wide range of reasons.
The most important of these, and one unique to Beefmasters, is our founding philosophy, The Six Essentials (Disposition, Fertility, Weight, Conformation, Milk Production, and Hardiness). My Grandfather developed this philosophy as he developed Beefmasters beginning in the 1930’s. He did so in an effort to maximize production efficiency in a challenging environment. Incredibly, the Lasater Philosophy is as pertinent 80 years later as it was then. This concept is especially relevant in a crossbreeding program which is expressly used to produce more beef, more efficiently. This is without regard to many of the non-economic selection criteria often employed in a purebred model, such as colour, size, and pedigree.
Another trait in Beefmasters that makes them perfect for crossbreeding is that they can easily adapt to nearly any environment, and still yield the production efficiency they are famous for. So whether you are in a very cold environment as is the Foundation Herd on my grandfather’s ranch in Eastern Colorado, or in the desert or in the tropics, they will excel. This means that you can cross them on your existing herd and not be concerned about the adaptability of the offspring.
Extract from SA Stud Book Annual Report 2016
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