Brangus: The Reliable Breed, by Executive Vice President Tommy Perkins, Ph.D., PAS

Beef cattle heifer retention challenges, economic instability, lower beef prices, and an uncertain political future is facing the beef industry as we roll into the fall months. Add preparation for the forecasted drought and you can see why it appears we are on a non-stop roller coaster. Fortunately, many were blessed with some great spring rains, as well as some summer moisture that have kept the grass green and growing for the additional females we have kept back in the herd.

These instabilities and uncertainties suggest the need to capitalize on use of heterosis and breed complementarity in your beef-breeding programs. Business-minded cattlemen will continue to utilize these benefits in order to maximize return on their investments. Therefore, use of other sire breeds, on the predominantly Angus-based commercial cowherd, will trend higher. This is a great time to take advantage of all of the great attributes Brangus and UltraBlack cattle bring to the table.

Brangus, a reliable beef breed, with more than 60 years of planned crossbreeding, has built the perfect replacement female that is adaptable from the west coast to the east coast, from the north to the south, and everywhere in between. Brangus bulls produce females that excel in efficiency of weaned calf production, milk production under limited feed inputs, calving ease, fertility, and longevity – all in a polled, moderate-framed, solid-colored (black or red) phenotypic package. Use of Brangus and UltraBlack genetics produce market cattle that grow rapidly and efficiently with carcasses meeting or exceeding requirements for branded end-product programs of other breeds. Just as important, they produce progeny with improved survivability and hair-shedding ability to excel in the most unpredictable and harsh environments of the world.

Brangus breeders have built the ideal herd sire that fit the needs of commercial cattlemen. Brangus and UltraBlack bulls add profitable pounds of weaning weight to their calves, produce outstanding replacement females, and leave feeder calves with superior feedlot gains. They require fewer days on feed and produce industry-acceptable carcasses. The cattle produce large ribeyes and ample marbling to complement the black-hided cow population that exists in today’s commercial beef industry. Please review the carcass data found in Jenny Bohac’s article, which further validates these conclusions.

With the commercial cattlemen in mind, the Brangus association released Genomic Enhanced EPD (GE-EPDs) for growth, reproduction and ultrasound traits in April 2015. The GE-EPDs, calculated by Livestock Genetic Services, are based on over 8,000 animals with 30,000 – 850,000 genotypes. Most importantly, these GE-EPDs have increased the accuracy of EPDs on younger, non-proven animals. The increase in EPD accuracies have allowed commercial cattlemen to buy with more confidence when selecting young, unproven bulls.

GE-EPDs are the tool of choice in breed improvement strategies in the beef industry and commercial cattlemen continue to make improvement in beef production with their use. International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) is currently working with GeneSeek to release a Brangus-specific commercial heifer panel to generate a DNA-based fertility index for use in heifer selection. Additionally, a carcass merit index will be produced from use of this Brangus-specific panel.

The Brangus breed was developed to do it all. They are cattle that economically excel in the pasture for commercial cow-calf producers, in the feedlot for cattle feeders, and in the grocery store for retailers. Brangus cattle are known to produce a tender, high-yielding beef product with optimum levels of marbling, which meet the stringent demands of health-conscious consumers.

The outstanding maternal strengths, feedlot performance, and carcass merit of Brangus cattle make them the reliable beef breed to build the nation’s cowherd. Do not hesitate to call us if you have any specific questions about Brangus genetics for use in your operation. For information about IBBA programs or other inquiries, please call (210) 696-8231. Stay connected to IBBA through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, or receive news updates by joining our email list.

Download PDF version: FBP_Fall2016 perkins_EVP report



Dr. Perkins is the Executive Vice President for the International Brangus Breeders Association. He most recently was the executive for another breed association after serving as a professor at Missouri State University and Texas State University for nearly twenty years. His professional career is most noted for excellence in the field of beef cattle ultrasound. He has a doctorate in animal breeding from Texas Tech University.