Rapid Growth Adding Value to Dairy with Beef
Steve Esch, Beef Product Support Specialist, Genex
Wulf Cattle and Genex have teamed together to add value to dairy bull calves. The state of today's beef industry, tight supplies and record low beef cattle numbers gives dairy producers an opportunity to capture more revenue by utilizing low genetic merit dairy animal to produce a consistent supply of superior beef x dairy calves.
Here's how it works:
1. Develop a breeding strategy including Wulf Limousin semen on Jersey or Lim-Flex® on Holsteins.
2. Genex-produced semen is delivered, and designated dairy cows are inseminated.
3. Calves are born on the dairy and routinely transported to participating calf ranches.
4. The resulting crossbred bull and heifer calves are purchased by Wulf Cattle.
5. The dairy receives a premium based on current Holstein bull calf market prices.
If you haven't heard about the Breeding to FeedingTM program, it is a new and innovative breeding program designed to incorporate beef genetics into dairy herds to add value to the lower genetic merit animals.
Herds produce a beef x dairy crossbred calf from their lower genetic merit animals and, in turn, stay focused on maximizing genetic progress by utilizing only superior dairy female progeny for replacement heifer production. The resulting crossbreds add more value by being more efficient feed converters and by having more muscle. The process transforms dairy carcasses into beef carcasses, which helps dairy producers capture premiums in the beef market.
Last summer the first calves - from dairies that adopted Breeding to Feeding early on - were born and transported to participating calf ranches. At about 400 pounds, those crossbred calves will then enter feedlots with a targeted finished weight of 1350 to 1450 pounds.
Breeding to Feeding operates as an alliance program between Genex and Wulf Cattle. Adam Zeltwanger of Wulf Cattle had the opportunity to visit with many Genex members and customers. "In my travels over the past year, I have seen dairymen 'warm up' to the program. We are now seeing Breeding to Feeding being embraced by a large number of dairies, and that number is increasing steadily."
In comparing the first three months of Breeding to Feeding to the most recent three, program utilization has doubled. Currently participating calf ranches are located in eight different major cow pockets around the U.S. to help facilitate program growth.
The Beef Supply Situation
The beef production system is hungry for a consistent, uniform and efficient supply of high quality cattle to fill consumers' needs. Breeding to Feeding is the proven program to get the job done. The beef market faces a number of challenges as they deal with the smallest number of beef cows in the U.S. in over 60 years along with a current and projected short supply of feeder cattle. High feed costs are the reality, so feed conversion and efficiency become that much more important. Dairy cattle calve year round, compared to beef cattle which calve seasonally, so this is a welcome opportunity for feedlot owners.
Today's high feed input costs require the need for better feed efficiencies. Limousin and Lim-Flex crosses are proven to be just what the packing industry needs: a consistent quality supply of feeders in an economically challenged beef/cow climate.
Based on Real-World Data
The Breeding to Feeding concept was proven in real world situations before being introduced.
Genex and Wulf Cattle screen over 400 Limousin and Lim-Flex bulls for fertility and calving ease annually. Only bulls meeting specific requirements enter the testing stage. Those bulls then participate in filed trials at Riverview Dairy, a partner of Wulf Cattle, before they can officially become Breeding to Feeding sires.
Another example of being driven by real-world data is the successful results from harvesting the initial Breeding to Feeding crossbred animals. Those positive results enabled Wulf Cattle to recently increase premiums paid for cqalves entering the buyback program.
Wulf Cattle's commitment to research, resources and predictable genetics is what truly makes this program unique. Jerry Wulf, president of Wulf Cattle, states, "We as producrs are faced with the daily challenge of producing more to help feed our growing population and to do as much as possible while being aware of the environmental footprint."
He goes on to say, "We have proven that through this program we can produce both milk and beef from the same animal and do it efficiently with the use of Limousin genetics."
Advantages to the Dairy
• Less young stock on feed reducing overall feed costs
• Raising only high quality dairy replacements
• Producing desired amount of dairy females to meet current needs and thereby improving overall efficiencies
• Breeding to Feeding bulls chosen for proven fertility and good calving ease
• Buyback assurance for all healthy calves at a market premium (both males and females)
I challenge you to think about the opportunity and the current, as well as projected, short supply of beef on the market. Dairy cull cows influence the beef market today, but now through Breeding to Feeding, dairymen can have an even bigger role in the fed cattle market. The short supply of beef feeder cattle and record low beef cow numbers in the U.S. are not going to change anytime soon. Therefore, the impact this program can have on the beef supply is exciting and will continue for years to come.
The joint effort between Genex and Wulf Cattle brings the support and attention to detail that assures long-term success working with dairy herds. This truly is a cooperative effort to provide a long-term solution facing the beef industry while improving profits and efficiencies on your dairy.
For more details on Breeding to Feeding, contact your local Genex representative or Steve Esch at 888.333.1783 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Step-by-Step Maximizing the Value of Calves
• Establish dairy goals for genetic quality and number of calves born per year based on economics, barriers and opportunities.
• Determine number of heifer replacement calves needed per year to meet future herd goals.
• Use Calf MathTM to compare potential breeding strategy outcomes.
• Determine the most effective combination of semen products to create your ideal profit opportunity.
• Rank females genetically using tools such as the AgSource Genetic Selection Guide, genomic testing, parent average or other custom genetic sorts.
• Utilize GenChoiceTM on the herd's high-quality heifers to increase genetic progress.
• Make lower genetic merit calves more marketable and increase profits. Create beef x dairy crosses through Breeding to Feeding with semen tested in dairy herds for fertility and calving ease. Use Wulf Limousin on Jerseys and Lim-Flex (Limousin x Angus) on Holsteins.
• Determine and communicate protocols for mating and breeding to get the preferred semen product into individual cows and heifers.