Survey Reveals Dominance of English Bulls in US

US - A spring 2008 survey of U.S. producers with 200 or more beef cows confirmed the dominant influence of the Angus breed, but also showed regional variations in breed and trait emphasis. Certified Angus Beef LLC contracted with Drovers, using the magazine's prequalified list.
calendar icon 20 November 2008
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According to Certified Angus Beef, the return rate of nearly 5% in the online survey resulted in 1,035 completed forms from 45 states, representing 11,397 bulls. Those returns were cross-tabulated by such variables as breed preference, region and use of postweaning data.

English breed bulls were used in 2008 by nearly 70% of respondents, who specified 55.2% registered Angus (see Table 1). Composites, which are often Angus-based, described 13.2% of the bulls. The second-highest purebred response was Hereford, well back at 7.5%, but ahead of Charolais, the highest Continental breed, at 6.9%.

Considering regional differences, Angus bulls rule the Midwest, at 63.6% of the total, and 74.1% used at least one Angus bull. Angus made up the smallest share of all bulls in the Southeast, yet the region led the way in widespread use with 80.8% turning out at least one.

The Southeast also compensated somewhat with 21.5% of its bulls from the Brangus breed, an Angus-based stable composite. Perhaps that preference is related to the Southeast having the lowest reported share of composite bulls at 4.1%. The North Central region numbers show the inverse relationship with literally no Brangus but the highest regional share of composites at 22.2%. The North Central region was second in reported use of at least one Angus bull, at 80.3%.

Charolais were strongest across the South, though never more than 11.2% of a region. Hereford and Red Angus bull usage was reported most in the West, which also was the second-highest region for overall percentage of Angus bulls. Although nine breeds were named, along with composites, the others comprised less than 5% in any region.

With enough cows and territory to make up its own region, Texas comes in as a top Angus-use region, more than five times as popular as second-place Charolais.

Since 89% of the respondents keep replacement heifers to build their herds, cowherd composition relative to bull use is an important point. While 73.2% of cows are either straight-bred Angus or Angus-based crossbreds, most (58.5%) of those are straightbreds. Results of a similar 2006 survey noted that 70% of commercial producers with 100 or more cows considered their herds predominately Angus.

The 2008 survey asked breeders to rate genetic traits by importance, and calving ease ranked nearly three times higher than any other, followed by growth and then breeder reputation and animal appearance. Maternal traits finished near the bottom as a primary selector, but rose as a component of balanced selection.

The three most popular traits for all producers were calving ease, growth and maternal. That did not change much regardless of breed preference. Although carcass value was of middling importance overall, those who rated it highly also paid significantly more attention to feedlot efficiency and less to appearance or breeder reputation. In regional results, those in the South Central states were the most likely to appreciate carcass value as a trait, while it was least noted in the West.

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