From the Ground Up: “These Aren’t Your Granddaddy’s Cows”

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Genetic research and selective breeding in beef production have been responsible for the positive eating experience many of us enjoy today when consuming beef. Expected Progeny Differences, or EPDs, are numbers that help a producer predict the genetic quality of the future offspring of a particular bull, cow, or heifer. Bobby Kurten is a Brazos Valley rancher.

“We’re raising better quality cattle. The EPDs and all the research they’ve done on that and people understanding that have made a lot of difference in that. We can and will continue to raise better quality of cattle in my opinion, where they’re easier to handle, where they taste better, and all of that. We do everything we can to do that.”

Kurten says the cattle he’s raising aren’t anything like those that his grandfather raised.

“You can look back at the pictures, whether it’s pictures of ranches or the pictures from the livestock shows from the fifties, and look at the difference in the cattle then and the cattle now, and that’s genetics and management. They did they best they could then with the knowledge that they had and with the stuff that they had. We ought to do the best that we can now with the things that we have.”

Kurten says another thing the use of genetics has done is to make cattle a little bigger.

“The cattle coming out of the feed lot now are bigger than they were 40 or 50 years ago. The cattle going into the feed lot are bigger now than they were back then. The cattle coming off the cows are bigger. That’s mostly genetics. That, and some pasture management and learning things about that and doing a better job of managing these cattle.”

Kurten says there’s all kinds of research producers can look at to help with management decisions.

“If they’ll study it a little bit when they’re buying bulls or heifers or cows or whatever they can get along a little bit better and make the product a little better.”