Jared Wareham: Beef On Dairy - Part 2
Previously I noted how the tidal wave of beef-sired dairy would develop. The chatter surrounding this segment has intensified over the past two months through print and digital media.
There remains much we won’t know about the formidableness of this segment as far as its potential long-term impact on premium groups of cattle from traditional beef production. For example, will the performance and resulting carcasses be strong enough to consistently demand more than just dairy-influenced formula pricing from packers? Time and genetics will help dictate the narrative.
We know the dairy and calf ranch models have clear advantages in supply logistics with regard to timing of supply. Most beef herds tend to calve in two windows during the year, which creates periods of both strong and weak supplies. Calf ranches consistently have loads of calves ready every month. This could eliminate latent periods or gaps in supply. For this reason, the dairy industry could become a serious player in the premium beef space if the quality of cattle can maintain the threshold of acceptability.
Now to a technological advancement that’s really going to blow your mind. What if the dairy industry mastered the ability to place male sexed beef embryos in their females? What if the dairy cow became no more than a host or surrogate, instead of 50% of the genetic equation? A milk factory that can cook an unrelated bun in its oven. Have we eliminated the issues from paragraph two? The answer is yes, and it’s already happening.
Ovaries can be “mined” for eggs at the time of slaughter. Those eggs can be fertilized, frozen and implanted when needed. Implementation into large scale mainstream production will be slowed by a few obstacles. Currently, those hurdles are cost and refinement of genetic selection during the harvest process. However, those barriers to increased efficiencies can be overcome.
What fascinates me are the opportunities for other segments of beef production. Think about what this could mean for the Gulf Coast and the subtropical environment of Florida. Instead of continuing to wrestle with trying to achieve a balance between the maternal efficiencies demanded by the environment and improving beef carcasses beyond mere commodity, simplify the system. Focus on the Gulf Coast’s maternal powerhouse, the tiger striped cow. Utilize her strengths by making her a surrogate dam to a male beef calf of premium genetic quality that more directly aligns with the end user.
The dairy industry continues to drive technological advancement that flows into beef spaces. First artificial insemination, then embryo transfer, sexed semen and now this. Once cost and operational efficiency thresholds are brought into a range of acceptance, look for this to become mainstream. And, much like the uptake of sexed semen usage, expect that to be sooner rather than later.
Jared Wareham is general manager of Top Dollar Angus, the industry leader for genetic certification of top-end Angus and Red Angus feeder cattle, bred heifers and seedstock.