Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published for the Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XX December 11, 12 and 13, 2007 - Fort Collins, Colorado.


Beef cattle producers are currently faced with a multitude of challenges. The traditional cattle cycle appears to have deviated from conventional wisdom, in part because of increasing grain prices due to a biofuels ‘industry’ that has become a competitor for grain resources that the U.S. fed cattle industry has grown dependent upon. A suite of genetic tools have been provided, or are in the works, to address issues such as feed efficiency, fertility, and longevity; along with more traditional EPDs for production and carcass/ultrasound traits. Established EPDs have proven to be very successful at allowing producers to take advantage of additive genetic differences between animals. Newer molecular technology has attempted thus far to gather more insight into secondary traits such as meat quality and feed efficiency. The fact is that producers are provided with an extensive set of tools from which to make within breed genetic gain. It is often advantageous for animals not to excel in only one trait but to be complete in their genetic profile for reproductive, growth, and end product merit. It is challenging for one breed to do all this in an efficient manner. One of the oldest and truest methods of finding that balance is through the use of crossbreeding.

Advantages of crossbreeding can be thought of as: 1) Taking advantage of breed complementarity, 2) Taking advantage of non-additive effects (dominance and epistatic) and 3) capturing heterosis (hybrid vigor).