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Dairy a growing competitor for beef genetics

By Joel Penhorwood

The Ohio Beef Expo is a time when beef breeders come together to talk the latest in genetics and issues hitting the cattle industry.

Bruce Smith of COBA/Select Sires pointed out an increasing change in where beef breeding materials are heading, showing a slight shift in Ohio’s cattle production mindset.

“We have a huge new competitor in our beef market for the semen quantity, and that’s the dairy cows,” said Smith. “A significant number of dairy cows are being bred to beef semen and they’re using sexed semen to make their female replacements and the rest are getting bred to beef.”

Hard dairy prices as of late have caused the dairy producers to be more precise in their herd continuation, including setting the lower milking cows to a new career path. Smith said this has proven to be financially appealing for some farmers.

“They’re getting a premium at some level on those beef cross calves compared to a purebred Holstein cow,” he said. “There are some feeders that have figured out that this is a good place to be and it’s still an evolving market trying to find what are the best and right genetics. At this point, it seems to be very feeder specific, but they’re working on it and there are a group of feeders in this area that are concentrating on that.”

With this new influx on the market, how has it hit beef semen supplies?

“It can be significant because as we continue to fine tune what type of beef bulls they’re looking for, then those bulls are becoming a very tight supply. The dairymen’s first interest is making sure he has a pregnancy, so when we identify the most fertile bulls, those are the first ones they’re interested in, and then some of the other qualities with ribeye area size and so on. It is significantly affecting our availability on some beef sires,” Smith said.

The 2019 Ohio Beef Expo runs through Sunday, March 17.

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