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Dr. Joe Paschal Talks Tips For Choosing The Right Cattle Breed For Your Operation

Environment, production practices and goals all play into one of the most-asked questions in ranching: “What breed of cattle should I raise? Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Livestock Specialist Dr. Joe Paschal talked about the options - ranging from the purebred business to commercial crossbred cattle - during the TSCRA Convention’s School for Successful Ranching last month.

With more than 75 purebred breeds registered in the U.S. today, Paschal says he encourages producers to really narrow in on the specific breed characteristics.

“What we try to do is group those breeds into five or six different breed groups, based on their production, and then sort of where their level of performance is today,” Paschal says. “For example, in mature size, maybe in hot climate adaptability or marbling, so you can say if I want a high-marbling breed, I need to pick out of this group. If I want a breed that is adapted to very hot temperatures, then I need to pick out of this breed group.

“Or maybe I need both because I’m going to produce high-marbling cattle in hot climate, so maybe I need to pick breeds out of each and cross them.”

Paschal says a straight breeding program with a registered breed - even if you don’t register your cattle - will work very well, but issues could arise when producers begin crossbreeding without putting a plan together first.

“It’s not just about hybrid vigor, it’s about the breeds of cattle that go into the cross that’s going to make profitability a real thing,” he says.

As other meat industries like pork and chicken move away from purebred animals and focus more on crossing breeds for desired traits, Paschal says there is little likelihood of beef completely following suit.

“We have so many people who have pride of ownership of their particular type or breed of cattle,” he says. “And as long as those cattle fit production markets and they’re not taking the bottom-end of the market every time they take them to the sale, they’re going to continue to raise those cattle.”

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