From the Spring 2023 issue of the Isa Informer

Beefmasters grading 94% choice silences critics

By Lorenzo Lasater, President

Isa Beefmasters is pleased to report some exciting results in two separate research projects. The results are a testimony to the investment we have placed in pushing the genetic envelope and making L Bar Beefmaster genetics ever more useful to the beef cattle industry worldwide. I’ll examine in this article the Noble Research Institute study in Ardmore, OK, which focuses on replacement females and carcass data.

When we talk to commercial cattlemen about using Beefmaster bulls in place of their current breed, they often raise two common concerns:

1. Will they color up the calves?

2. Will they grade?

As our customers know, Isa Beefmasters has been working on color-uniformity for most of my career. We have eliminated any kind of paints, brindles or other color patterns the commercial sector dislikes. About 5% of the bulls we sell annually might have a small amount of white on their belly or face, but that is the extent of it. If you breed L Bar bulls to solid black or red cows, you will get solid-colored calves.

This Beefmaster x Angus cross heifer is part of a study at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

As to the second question, the prevailing thought is the Brahman-influenced or Bos Indicus-influenced cattle will have low-quality grades. This issue is true in some breeds, and certainly true of some genetic lines within breeds. As we’ve heard it said: There is more quality variation within one breed than between quality cattle of different breeds. Overall quality can vary significantly depending on the program and what the herdsman considers important.

At Isa Beefmasters, we believe the success of the commercial beef cattle producers who buy our bulls is important. We want them to provide calving ease, adaptability, growth, and heavy, healthy calves to the weaning pen. We want the feeder steers to gain fast, convert efficiently, be sickness free, and grade and yield well. We want the replacement females to be fertile, early maturing, easy-keeping, gentle, and have long productive lives raising big calves. To me, these things make beautiful and profitable cattle. The loyal customers who buy our bulls feel the same.

In order to answer the quality grade question more directly, we are in the process of feeding several groups of sire-identified calves in order to get the hard data. We have always had customers say, “My calves graded 75%,” so we knew L Bar Beefmasters were not hurting the grade, but those numbers are anecdotal, not scientific.

In 2020, we began a collaboration with Beefmaster Breeders United and the Noble Research Institute. They used two leading Beefmaster bulls (L Bar En Fuego, C988569, raised by Isa Beefmasters and owned by Gene Haymon; and CF Nueces, C1059662, raised by Collier Farms and owned by Jim Colvin). The sires were A.I-bred to Noble’s commercial Angus herd. Noble’s initial intent was to develop and study the replacement females, which is still ongoing.

In 2022, BBU was able to buy, feed and harvest the steers, with some truly fantastic results. As you can see in the chart on p. 1, the steers gained 4.47 pounds per day, finished in 160 days (30 days faster than projected), had 0% death loss, yielded 62.6% and graded 94% choice (industry average 75%). Additionally, West Texas A&M University conducted Warner Bratzler ­­Shear Force (WBSF) tests, and the steers averaged 3.86kg. (Anything under 4.6kg is considered tender.) This phenomenal performance shows what can be achieved utilizing performance Beefmaster genetics in your crossbreeding program.

In summary, the fact that these steers graded 94% choice (against an industry average of 75%) clearly answers the “will they grade” question. But we have long maintained that there is more to profitability than just quality grade. These results show that true success lies in a combination of feedlot performance, health, grade and yield, and the critical, but hidden, trait of tenderness. These Beefmaster-sired steers absolutely rang the bell in every phase.

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