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Are you a prospective cattle breeder? If you are, then surely you would like to know which cattle breeds can bring you the most money. This article is here to help you with your decisions.
Cattle breeding has evolved through time to become a lucrative business of the 21st century. It is the most important agricultural industry in the USA, billing around $66.2 billion in cash receipts in 2019.
Around 70 or more breeds are readily available within the United States alone. The two basic categories of cattle are purebred and commercial. Although the purebred cattle market provides a higher return per unit, higher maintenance and breeding costs and other risks are involved. The commercial venture is relatively low-input and low risk.
Another major factor to consider, when selecting a breed, is the ‘genetic-environmental interaction’. Simply put, cattle developed under particular circumstances tend to perform their best under similar conditions. A study conducted by Florida researchers demonstrated the same on Hereford cattle relocated from Montana to Florida and vice versa. The study concluded that the cattle performed best in the location where it was developed. Therefore, it is best to select a breed based on its performance in the relevant region.
Different breeds are reared for different purposes, some for beef and others for dairy. The different cattle breeds available in the U.S.A is often grouped into three major categories: British, European, and Zebu-influence. Let’s take a look at the cattle breeds that perform the best on the market in the U.S.A.
Top Cattle Breeds That Can Make You Rich
The Aberdeen Angus or the Black Angus is the most popular beef breed in the USA. This breed originated in 19th century Scotland
The Aberdeen Angus is naturally a non horned breed (polled breed) and though they can be black or red-coated, the black Angus is more common.
Resistant to harsh weather, they are widely popular in crossbreeding aimed at improving carcass quality and milking abilities. Since the non horned or polled gene is passed on as a dominant genetic trait, this breed is often used to genetically de-horn cattle during crossbreeding. Angus females calve easily and produce vigorous calves at birth. They are known for their superior milk yields, early maturity and fertility.
Hereford cattle originated from the English County of Herefordshire and were the first to be recognized as a true breed.
Mature Hereford males may weigh up to 1800 pounds while females usually weigh around 1200 pounds. Muscular and well developed in the back, loin, and hindquarters they command good market prices as finished beef or store cattle while breeding stock are sold for higher prices. Their normal ratio of weight gain to age and feed is relatively higher than for other breeds, either on grazing pastures or on yard feeding.
The Shorthorn breed of cattle is native to northeastern England and has played a vital role in the breeding of around 40 distinct breeds worldwide.
Shorthorn calves average at around 85 pounds when born. Their reasonable birth weights result in higher growth potential. Shorthorn bulls and females are observed to have a high growth rate. Crossbreeding with Shorthorn breeds is a popular practice due to the resulting calving ease and other advantages.
The Charolais breed of cattle has its roots in northwestern France and are typically white in color, though red and black coated Charolais are often bred and marketed. They have high growth rates and are reared for high-quality beef. They are quite popular for all-purpose cross-breeding.
2. Holstein Friesian
In the 18th century, cattle brought into Holland and Friesland from Jutland were crossed with the Dutch cattle breeds to form the Friesian. Later crossbreeding in the 1970s, with the Holstein breed imported from the United States gave formed the Holstein Friesian breed. This resulted in larger animals that were predominantly a dairy breed. The modern Friesian is largely a grazing animal.
The Friesian males are valued high since they provide high quality, lean meat even when not crossed with beef yielding cattle breeds. This breed is known for its frequent calf yields and their highly-valued male calves. They are also priced for their high-quality milk and lean meat.
The Gelbvieh (pronounced: Gel-fee) breed has its origins in Bavaria, in southern Germany.
Purebred male calves are born with an average weight of 40kg, females average at 38kg. They are noted to have high pre-weaning growth rates that are comparable or higher than that of the Charolais.
Gelbvieh females are known to mature earlier, with high fertility and milk yields, compared to other European crossed females. Gelbvieh has high cutout yields since they have large rib-eye muscle areas per 220 pounds (100kg).
Gelbvieh is a lean breed but considering their quick growth rate and their marketability, they are a potential source of high quality tender young beef.
According to the USDA Meat, Animal Research Centre Gelbvieh are the only widely used breed that excels in calving ease, milk yield, retail yield, weaning growth and yearling growth combined.
4. Texas Longhorn
The Texas Longhorn breed developed within the American continent through natural selection and adaptation through the crossbreeding of Spanish and English cattle breeds.
Although slow to mature, their reproductive period extends longer than most other breeds. Longhorns are highly resistant to common cattle diseases and parasites like the screwworm. These cattle feed on a wide range of grasses, plants, weeds, etc. They also yield high quality, lean beef.
The Maine-Anjou breed is native to the northwestern part of France. The Maine-Anjou breed excels in performance and feed efficiency, nature and has superb carcass traits. They are noted for their calving ease, high milk yields, and high-quality meat.
Since its origin in Switzerland, the breed has spread to all six continents. Simmental cattle generally have large frames. Their weight tends to vary depending on their use as a meat or dairy producer. Cows tend to weigh around 1500 – 2000 pounds (700 to 900 kgs), while bulls average at about 2800 pounds (1300 kgs).
This breed has proved invaluable in crossbreeding with other breeds since it provides good growth, large carcass, resulting in better meat yield to its crossbred progeny. The quality of meat and milk is improved resulting in better development of calves.
7. South Devon
This breed is the largest of the British breeds, it has a large frame and is highly muscular. The mature bulls weigh approximately 1200 to 1500 kgs. The bulls begin to mature from about 15-18 months and can breed for up to 12 years. The average gestation length of the South Devon is 286 days, and the females produce calves every year for around 15 years.
8. Belted Galloway
A mature Belted Galloway bull can weigh between 815 and 955 kilograms while the female ranges from 400 to 600 kilograms. The Belted Galloway calf can grow to half the size of its mother when weaned around 205 days since its birth.
Belted Galloways are naturally devoid of horns and can be cross-bred with other breeds to create polled on non horned crossbreeds. They are well known for their ease of calving and for producing one to calves per year. Since this cattle breed tends to shed its coat under hot climatic conditions, they are highly adaptable and versatile. They are also resistant to a number of diseases.
Growth and carcass characteristics of certain beef cattle breeds (P. Amer et al. Canadian Journal of Animal Science)
|Feed conversion efficiency||6.0||6.5||6.5||6.5||7.0|
|Fat depth (mm)||8.2||9.3||9.7||18.9||20.4|
Zebu-influence cattle breeds:
1. American Brahman
The Brahman has become an integral member of the cattle farming industry in the USA. This breed is used to adapt other British or Continental breeds to different regions. Several synthetic breeds have resulted from these ‘adaptations’, like the Brangus, Bradford, SimBrah, ChaBray, Beefmaster, etc.
The Brahman breed is part of the Bos indicus (Zebu) subspecies and is distinguished by the characteristic hump. Brahmans tend to vary in coat color from light grey or red to black. Mature bulls tend to be darker than their female counterparts.
The Brahman breed is noted for its quick growth, early maturing, abundant muscle, and regular calving.
Piedmontese cattle originate from the region of Piedmont in northwest Italy. This breed of cattle is a carrier of a mutation of the gene Myostatin which has resulted in unrestricted muscle development known as double-muscling. Their muscle development averages 14 percent higher than that of other breeds. This genetic mutation has also been understood to contribute to the tenderness of Piedmontese beef.
The cows generally weigh around 1200 – 1300 pounds (550-600 kg) and the newborn calves weigh to 100 pounds (45 kg).
Piedmontese milk is also often used in the production of cheeses by the breeders. Cheeses like “Castelmagno”, “Bra”, “Raschera” and many of the “Tome” of the Piedmont region are usually produced using Piedmontese milk.
This breed is valued for its early maturing and long life span. These cattle have high fertility levels and calve with ease. They are observed to adapt efficiently to different climate conditions. They yield beef with lower levels of fat and cholesterol.
The following generalizations hold true across breeds:
- Faster growth rates are directly proportional to larger birth weights.
- Larger birth weights spell increased difficulty during calving or birthing.
- Higher milk yields and larger frame sizes result in higher feed requirements for equal reproductive performance.
Production and profitability must always be prioritized over the choice between purebred and commercial cattle. When selecting a breed or breeds, one must always keep in mind the manageability and the marketing requirements of the operation.