When beef began losing market share over 30 years ago, product improvement became the focus of the beef industry, and it has become an ongoing process. As you might expect, the changes that took place to upgrade beef production began at the ranch level. In this week’s From The Ground Up, Ashley Batey takes a look at what it takes to produce the beef today that many of us enjoy.
“We start with an F-1 tiger striped cow which to us is the best mama cow you can own, from the standpoint that she’s half Hereford, she’s half Brahman. We buy good cows, we work very hard to do that. We breed those to Brangus bulls, and we’ve been a lot of miles to buy Brangus bulls that fit the type that we want. They’re hard for us to find, but we go and we’ve paid a lot of dollars to buy those Brangus bulls.”
One of the products Jim McCord raises is replacement females for beef herds, and he’s very particular about his inputs.
“We’re trying to get a product that will be uniform, it’s got a certain look. It’ll be uniform, particularly for the heifers. We’re going to put those heifers in groups of 5 to 10 and we’re going to take them to the stock shows and sell them. They have to be uniform. They have to look alike.”
He uses the same strategy in producing calves for the feed yard.
“We have our breeding cycle down to 90 to 120 days and that is because we want all of our calves to come off in a short period of time. We wean our calves at one time. We put them in a pre-conditioning program because we’re going to take those to a special sale, and over the years we have averaged an 8 or 10 cent premium for those calves because of their uniformity.”
How well a calf grows directly affects the bottom line.
“We will wean a calf that will typically weigh at least 700 pounds or above. In this business, on those type of animals, you sell on pounds. We want pounds. We want that result to be there.”
As you can see, there’s a little more to producing beef today that putting a bull with some cows and gathering up the results. I’m Ashley Batey, tracing the journey or food makes from the ranch to our plates, From The Ground Up.