Thanks for the response Rhodie. I agree about the ethical part on the slaughter of bred animals but was just curious as to the result on the carcass if one did get slaughtered that happened to get bred (bull jumps a fence or something). I was pretty sure the pregnancy would sooner or later affect the carcass quality but wasn't sure at what stage so thanks for the answer there. After talking to some other people I have decided to go ahead and go with the original 2 herd set up but this year we will keep the young breeding age (12-15 month) heifers with the cows to breed for about 3 months, have their first calf and then continue on thru the finishing process. The benefits of this seem to be many: increased herd size but still allowing flexibility to cull or destock readily as we have more marketing options. I can sell the bred heifer if needed, sell the weaned calf or carry the calf on thru to continue the cycle and eventually make it to the plate. The young animals I will continue to run with the finishing animals.
We have used AI in the past and I had originally thought this might be a good way to go. But given about a 70% stick I would still require a clean up bull and then we are right back in the same boat of having to split the herd, unless I was willing to take the hit on loosing 30% of my production potential.