U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Beef Research Program Progress Report (1988) No. 3: 9-16


Heterosis achieved through well-organized crossbreeding systems can be used to increase weight of calf weaned per cow exposed to breeding by about 20%. Comprehensive programs of breed characterization have revealed large differences among breeds for most biological traits of economic importance.

Ahigh percentage of beef cattle in the U.S.and globally are in herds too small to use well organized crossbreeding systems on a self-contained basis. Further, there is wide fluctuation in breed composition between generations in rotational crossbreeding systems. Thus, there is need for experimental evaluation of the potential of composite populations as an alternative, or, as a supplement to continuous crossbreeding systems to use heterosis, and, as a procedure to use genetic differences among breeds to optimize such biological characters as growth rate and mature size, milk production level, lean to- fat ratio, and climatic adaptability. The primary objective of achieving and maintaining optimum breed composition is to synchronize cattle genetic resources with the production environment most favored by economic and technological factors and with market requirements.