Comparative Rating of Cattle Breeds (1974)

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Ken Scharabok, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    At a used book sale some years ago I purchased a copy of Animal Agriculture: The Biology of Domestic Anvils and Their Use by Man (1974) by H. H. Cole and Magnar Ronning, Editors. In the section on Description of Animal Species, Breeds, Strains and Hybrids and their Distribution there is a table on Comparative ratings on economic traits of 29 breeds of cattle now available to North American producers.

    The comparison looked at a number of traits as follows:

    Cow traits: Age of puberty, Conception rate, Milking ability and Mature size
    Calf traits: Preweaning growth, Postweaning growth and Optimum slaughter weight*
    Carcass: Cutability, Marbling and Tenderness
    Bull traits: Fertility, Freedom from genital defects and Calving ease (sire effect)

    *Not used for below as I didn’t know how to assign a fair grade to it.

    Grades were given on a scale of 1-5, with one being the best. I know it is not necessarily scientific, but I added up the trait scores for an overall one. The lower the total, the better, in concept, the breed.

    Here’s how they graded out: #1 – Holstein (22), #2 – Simmental (24), #3 – Brown Swiss (25), #4 & #5 – Ayrshire (26) & Hays Converter (26), #6 – Beefmaster (27), #7 – #12 - Braford (28) & Devon (28), Jersey (28), Limousin (28), Maine-Anjou (28) & South Devon (28), #13 - #16 – Angus (29), Brangus (29), Guernsey (29) & Red Angus (29), #17 - #18 – Red Poll (30) & Galloway (30), #19 - #21 – Charolais (31), Murray Grey (31) & Scotch Highland (31), #22 – Milking Shorthorn (32), #23 – Hereford (33), #24 - #26 – Polled Hereford (34), Santa Gertrudis (34) and Shorthorn (34), #27 – Polled Shorthorn (35), #28 – Charbray (36) and #29 – Brahman (42).

    Couple of interesting aspects. Straight dairy breeds took three of the top four places. Had the Jersey not taken a severe hit for slow growth, it would have been among the top finishers. All traditional dairy breeds were below the average. Brahman was far, far at the end of the list. However, two Brahman crosses (Braford & Brangus) did fairly well. Not included were some now popular crosses, such as Angus/Holstein** and Angus/Hereford***. On the carcass traits, as a whole traditional dairy breeds had an average of 6.2 versus the traditional beef breeds average of 7.3 (remember lower is better). The two breeds which had the best score (1) on tenderness were the Guernsey and Jersey. Here the Brahman scored a 5.

    ** Local beef cattlemen seem to prefer a black cow with a white bag, indicating a bit of Holstein blood, and usually indicates a 'good milker'.

    ***Commonly called Black Baldies (Angus bull), Red Baldies (Hereford bull) or just White Faced.

    By function, straight dairy averaged 26, dual dairy/beef 28, beef crosses 30.8, beef (w/o Brahman) 31.4 and beef w/Brahman 32.3.

    For those statistically inclined, the average score is 30 with a standard deviation* of 4.1. That puts the Holstein out at about two standard deviation (SD)**** and the Brahman out at about 3.4 SD. One of my statistics instructors said a good practice is to throw out the high and low score and look at the rest. When that is done, it appears to be a slight skewed to the left bell shaped curve with 15 below 30, two at 30 and 11 above 30.

    **** I have read there are feedlots in CA which specialize in feeding out Holstein steers as almost all come out as USDA Choice.

    Also note the average for straight dairy was right at one SD away from the composite average score. If I remember my statistics classes correctly, 95% of the population will fall within one standard deviation of the average. This would put the staight dairy in the upper 5% or so of the population.

    Optimum slaughter weights given: 850 – Jersey, 900 – Ayrshire, Guernsey and Scotch Highland, 950 – Angus, Galloway, Polled Shorthorn, Red Angus, Red Poll and Shorthorn, 1,000 – Milking Shorthorn, 1,050 – Brangus, Devon, Hereford, Murray Grey and Polled Hereford, 1,150 – Beefmaster, Braford, Brahamn, Hays Converter, Santa Gertrudis and South Devon, 1,200 – Brown Swiss, Holstein and Limousin & 1,250 – Charbray, Charolais, Maine-Anjou and Simmental.

    One conclusion which can be reach from this data is if you are looking for beef for your freezer, don't overlook the dairy breeds.

    Here is a somewhat technical, but more current, research on the topic:

    http://www.extension.umn.edu/dairy/holsteinsteers/pdfs/papers/ComparisonDairyVsBeef_Rust.pdf
     
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  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Interesting read, Thanks for posting it.
     

  3. GrannieD

    GrannieD Well-Known Member

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    Great information for the homesteader who is encouraged to go with specific breeds ...Thanks for posting this ,Ken.. It is good to see the breeds compared.....GrannieD
     
  4. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Ken;
    I wonder what qualities they rated?

    If this comparison were sound the industry would be heavily tilted toward dairy breeds, yet not a single grower (other than walmart) prefers dairy breeds for beef.

    Who, given a choice, would eat Jersey steaks when Angus was available?
    Ox
     
  5. Sun-E-View

    Sun-E-View Sun-E-View

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    Don't knock those jersey's we raise straight beef, dairy beef crosses, and jersey and the jersey's will be as good or even better than the beef. Don't knock them until you try them!!!!
     
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  6. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Oxankle:

    I have been told there are feedlots in California who grow out almost exclusively Holstein steers as they almost always come out as U.S.D.A. Choice or better.

    Have heard a rap on Jersey is the fat may be yellow. I also understand it is basically the same stuff which turns carrots yellow.

    One study, almost mentioned in passing in the book. However, it does pretty well confirm what I have read elsewhere.

    Also keep in mind it may not be the beef you cook as how you cook it.
     
  7. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My family would!! And many of our customers. We sell Jersey steers to folks who want the pure Jersey for the flavour. I'll take Jersey over Angus any day of the week!! :clap:
     
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  8. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    If the market preferred Jersey Beef the pastures of America would be full of Jerseys. Size is not an issue; some strains of Jerseys have been bred to be pretty large already. Yes, Jersey fat does contain yellow pigment, but that is not a serious drawback--a matter of what you are accustomed to only.

    As for the Holsteins, that is a different matter. Holsteins are large animals, there are millions of Holstein bull calves each year for which there is no market but beef and they grow out lean. There is a huge market for such beef--I am told that McDonald's and many others in the fast food market buy this meat.

    Keep in mind that every bovine is destined to become beef unless it is a pet, or dies of sickness or old age. If you develop a taste for Jersey beef good for you, but the market will not support an assertion that it is superior.
     
  9. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's just a case of the consumer doesn't like yellow fat. If you had a case of chuck steaks in front of you and some of the fat was yellow, and the rest was white and you as a consumer didn't know why some had yellow fat, then what would you buy? The white fatted meat, of course. You'd probably think there was something wrong with the yellow fat.

    Advertising is the key to all of this, and Angus has the upper hand right now. The buyers don't even want any colour cows now, they want black. So you can do local word of mouth but that's about it unless you have a huge amount of people behind you.

    I've got Holsteins and was glad to see them rated so high, but I'm going to be crossing at least some to Milking Shorthorn this next year in preparation to going to a more "beefy" animal while still being able to milk them. When it comes time to go to an all beef herd, I'll probably get an Black Angus bull from a neighbor.

    Jennifer
     
  10. warrior

    warrior Well-Known Member

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    Dairy breeds are fine eating. Even though dad and I raised beef cattle and never dairy for some reason or another we always had a jersey, holstein, swiss, shorthorn (milking) around either pure or cross. Dairy cross cows could always be counted on to throw and raise a fine calf and always had enough milk. Some of the better eating ones came off shorthorn cows thrown to a good angus or charlais bull.
    BTW the santa gertrudis breed has a percentage of shorthorn in it as does the beefmaster. The shorthorn has been used extensively in the composite breeds.
     
  11. dmckean44

    dmckean44 Well-Known Member

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    I know I for one would prefer a Holstein or Holstein/Angus cross any day of the week. And midwest beef is almost always superior to the Texas beef in the grocery stores.
     
  12. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    I have a small herd of Hereford/Holstein based cattle. Some have small dabs of Red Brangus and Beefmaster too, but all have Hereford and Holstein. I am in Texas cattle country and people think me a bit strange because of my insistence of dairy blood. I have a pretty Reg. polled Hereford bull on these cows and with the mommas heavy milk production and the calves nice white faces and chunky bodies, my calves top the market. Sometimes strange is good....Diane
     
  13. Bryant1380

    Bryant1380 Member

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    Me and my father raise out holstein steers ONLY for our beef. We've tried a couple of beef types, and yeah, they're good, but you can buy holstein bulls so stinkin' cheap and they lean out fine.

    Just don't shut them up and feed them out until they build their frame, or else you'll just be feeding bone.

    Fine steaks. Fiiiine steaks.
     
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  14. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Interesting reading Ken, thank you.

    And brought to the fore again the discussion on Jersey beef. In another recent thread I made the comment that I would like to promote Jersey beef but wouldn't know where to start and at the moment, don't have the time. I eat nothing but Jersey but I'm in the position, like most here I assume, to rear my own and make the choice.

    There would be, I think, two main reasons as to why Jersey is seen as unacceptable and the most important one is the publics perception of yellow fat. They have been educated for so long that beef should have white fat that they can't see it any other way as Jennifer pointed out.
    The other reason is the farmer himself. The Jersey has a slower growth rate and smaller carcase weight. He could probably get around some of that by being able to graze more to the acre but the turn around rate would still be slower than if he were raising, say, Angus.

    So, how does one educate the public and promote this meat and is it possible for small farmers who are not wholey reliant on their farms for an income, to direct themselves at a niche market?

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  15. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Also I beleive another reason most of the general public does not prefer Jersey beef, is that they are simply unaware it exists. Most of the people who buy meat at the supermarket have no idea what the different breeds taste like. They simply go by the propaganda, and that is(at the moment), that Angus is the best!
    And as you mentioned, Ronnie, the growth rate and carcase weight is smaller on a Jersey. Because of that, I have a feeling that Jersey will probably be a niche market for the most part.......
     
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  16. longrider

    longrider Southern Gent

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    the beef lobby is huge, i worked on a cattle farm for a while in alabama. one of my church going girl friends is the advertising director for the Alabama cattlemans asso.

    one of her big programs is to teach kids across the state about beef and its importance in the diet. needless to say it is skewed towards eating red meat every meal- preferrably theirs.

    Winn Dixie had a big program about eating pure angus, unaltered with and unmixed. of course, we sold most all of our cattle to WD and yet we shot them up with antibiotics when ever they got a runny nose and when they came down the chute for various innoculations.

    its all about money. if you buy it from a store you get an unknown.
     
  17. savinggrace

    savinggrace COO of manure management

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    I just asked my city slicker husband if he were buying a steak in the grocery store; both looked good, one had white fat the other yellow what would he buy? 'The white...you don't see yellow fat on beef and there might be something wrong with it'.

    There you go, the opinion of joe schmoe average consumer.
     
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  18. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    One breed nobody has mentioned is the Normande. It's a dual purpose breed out of France. I don't have any purebreds but we have been crossing them with our Holstein and Aryshire cows. We have butchered a couple so far and I have been very impressed. I never paid any attention to what color their fat is-I think it's white though. They have a huge frame and grow pretty fast. One thing I was impressed with this summer is how fat they get on grass. Our animals go straight from the pasture to the butcher with no grain. There meat is good and tender.
     
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  19. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The problem with jersey beef is not flavor or quality, it's size, feed conversion, and survivability of calves. Jersey calves are notoriously hard to raise on the bottle, grow slowly, have lousy feed conversion, and poor yield.

    Funny that study didn't directly address economic issues such as feed conversion, and the cost of the maintanence of the cow.
     
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  20. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    True, they are not the most economical to feed out, just one reason jersey meat will always be a niche market and not embraced by the feed lots. But after raising bottle calves since I was 6 years old....I'll take raising a jersey calf anyday over raising a holstien. The holstiens get sick and give up, jerseys at least fight. Goats are easier to raise on the bottle than any calf! :happy:
     
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