When it comes to genetics, there have always been a few antagonisms between the goals of cow-calf producers and feedyard producers. However, usually the marketplace has been pretty darn effective in striking a balance.
Most of the time, cow-calf producers and feedyards have asked for the same thing in their genetics, whether it be more growth, more marbling, etc. However, this industry is currently witnessing as big a disconnect in desired cattle performance traits as I’ve ever seen.
Cow-calf producers are focusing on efficiency, which means less milk, a smaller mature size, maintaining calving ease, eliminating risk and maximizing longevity. Meanwhile, feedyards are focused on pounds and efficiency. However, efficiency in the feedlot equates to growth, while efficiency at the cow-calf level is often inversely related to growth.
Certainly, the seedstock industry is continuing to identify those genetic outliers that bend the growth curve by increasing early growth and efficiency without increasing mature size. And, one thing the two segments are in agreement on is the desire for reduced milk, as it remains a very inefficient way to put pounds on at the cow-calf level, and the feeders would rather the pounds they buy be lean pounds.
Nonetheless, it makes for a very interesting time. The cow-calf industry is focused on reducing mature size, while the feeding industry is looking for increased growth. And, the cow-calf industry is looking for earlier-maturing cattle, while the feeding industry is looking for cattle that are leaner (more efficient) at ever-increasing outweights.
It’s an interesting conundrum.