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Here cometh the HolsteinsHere cometh the Holsteins

NBQA data show the beef herd is predominantly black-hided. While that’s no surprise, the surge in dairy breeds in the beef market may be.

Nevil Speer

September 21, 2017

2 Min Read
Here cometh the Holsteins

“Since 1991, the beef checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) has delivered a set of guideposts and measurements for helping cattle producers and others determine quality conformance of the U.S. beef supply.”

That background, provided by NCBA’s Beef Quality Assurance Advisory Board, outlines the basic philosophy around initial implementation and regular monitoring of the beef industry by the NBQA. NBQA’s premise is based on principles outlined by Edwards Deming – most notably, continual improvement requires objective, fact-based decision making. Data is requisite to making proper adjustments for improvement to occur. 

With that in mind, NBQA over the years has provided the industry some important and interesting insights into the industry’s evolution. For example, this week’s illustration highlights the percentage of hide-on carcasses according to predominant hide color or breed type. The trend over time enables the industry to quantify general trends relative to the genetic composition of the fed steer and heifer population. 

The most recent assessment reveals no major surprises. That is, nearly 58% of the population possessed a black hide; that’s up sharply from just 15 years ago but relatively steady over the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the percentage of cattle that are predominantly Holstein is up sharply versus previous audits.  The 2016 Holstein percentage corresponds to the general composition of the overall cattle population: the dairy cattle population is just slightly over 9 million head versus 31 million beef cows in the United States. 


How do these breed-type trends align with your general perception of the cattle population in the United States? Have you changed the genetic composition of your cowherd in the past 10 to 15 years? Where do you see these trends headed in the coming decade? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Nevil Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and serves as vice president of U.S. operations for AgriClear, Inc. – a wholly-owned subsidiary of TMX Group Limited. The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TMX Group Limited and Natural Gas Exchange Inc.

About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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