4.03 - Considering different breeds

Selecting a profitable crossbreeding system that will work within the many constraints that most beef cattle producers operate under can be complex.

When selecting a possible crossbreeding system, producers need to:

  • consider the overarching constraints such as:
    • market options
    • environment (pastures, seasonal conditions)
    • existing preferences (for breed, selling methods, etc.)
    • overall goals for the business
  • recognise profit drivers (a key profit drive is gross income, which is a direct reflection of number of animals sold multiplied by the average value).

Before setting breeding objectives for the herd and developing a breeding plan, beef producers need to focus on the traits that are important in regard to the target market. Traits most likely to be important include:

  • weight
  • fat depth
  • yield characteristics (muscling)
  • intramuscular fat (marbling)

The ranking and weighting of these traits will change according to the target market. Broadly, the beef market may be broken into four segments:

  • high marbling trade (marble score greater than MS2)
  • table beef trade (high eating quality)
  • manufacturing beef
  • live export

Market segment

Important traits (profitability ranking)

Possible breed type/breed options

High marbling

  • intramuscular fat
  • carcase weight
  • yield
  • British breeds with some ability to marble (Angus, Shorthorn, Murray Grey etc)
  • British breed selected for marbling (high EBVs)
  • Japanese breeds (Wagyu)

Table beef

  • carcase weight
  • fat
  • yield
  • intramuscular fat
  • British breeds (Hereford, Angus etc)
  • European breeds (Charolais, Limousin etc)
  • Bos indicus breeds and crosses