There are over 70 breeds of cattle in the US but only approximately 20 breeds make up majority of the genetics. Why is this?
The Ball family farm has seen it's share of breeds. Grandpa primarily raised black SimAngus which is a Simmental and Angus cross. Each breed brings something unique to the operation. Simmentals are known for maternal traits, high meat yields and large carcass weights; while Angus specializes in low birth weights, easy calving and meat quality. By crossing the two we birth an offspring with an ideal characteristics.
Farmers will choose a breed depending on their end goal. Grandpa raised cow/calf pairs and feeder calves. He essentially had two goals; birth a healthy calf and efficiently feed it to market size.
Our goals started with a show focus. We began our herd by keeping back the heifers we showed in 4-H. Show calf genetics are often different from breeding stock. Our herd was very colorful in the beginning. We have Shorthorn, Shorthorn Plus, Simmental, Maine-Anjou and Chianina. Show calves are often stocky, squared off in the back and are bred to have thick coats. As we move away from our show years, our herd is taking new shape. We have decided to pursue an Angus cross similar to Grandpa's herd. We recently purchased four Red Angus bred cows. As our herd has grown, we have tried to focus on easy calving and herd uniformity. It is important to have consistent size and color when selling weaned calves.
Genetics play a large roll in agriculture and it is important for farmers to follow consumer trends. Angus is known for taste and marbling therefore a very popular choice. Farmers compare traits to select animals that will best fit in with their herd. Other reasons a farmer may pick a certain breed include; heat tolerant, docile, good structure, and feed efficient.