Noble Research Institute Moves to Demonstrate Heterosis in Their Cow Herds

by Joe Mask | Published April 20, 2020

ARDMORE, Okla. – Heterosis is an often-overlooked production and financial advantage that many commercial cattle producers are not utilizing. Maternal heterosis can be measured in several ways: stayability of the cow, cow lifetime productivity, increase in calving and weaning rates, increase in calf weighing weight, and a subsequent increase of weaning weight per exposed cow. Developing and maintaining a deliberate maternal heterosis program is easy to talk about but difficult in practice to accomplish. Furthermore, small- to mid-sized producers find it difficult to manage the logistics of managing several distinct breeds on their operation to develop a cross-breeding program.

The Noble Research Institute determined they would utilize Beefmaster and Hereford genetics to take advantage of cross-breeding and maternal heterosis in their predominately commercial Angus-based cow herd, which is comprised of approximately 550 mother cows.

The decision to utilize Beefmaster genetics in the research herd was made in part based off of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) feed efficiency data that ranked the Beefmaster breed second for average daily gain (ADG) and dry matter intake (DMI) in both steers and heifers. Hereford was selected as the Bos taurus cross component as the industry already recognizes the value of a baldy cow.

By incorporating both Beefmaster and Herefords, we intend to demonstrate the value of heterosis by utilizing Bos taurus and Bos indicus influenced genetics, said Robert Wells, Ph.D., Noble Research Institute livestock consultant.

Starting in spring 2020, Noble Research Institute will start utilizing Beefmaster AI bulls to create half-blood heifers that will potentially go back into a terminal-focused cow herd.

“Noble consultants regularly teach maternal heterosis to producers based on science and experience,” Wells said. “By incorporating additional complementary maternal breeds into our research cow herds, we are now able to practice what we preach in the realm of maternal heterosis and the benefits thereof.”

Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) will work with Dr. Wells to select the Beefmaster genetics that will meet the parameters that have been set forth, based on EPDs and phenotype.

“Assisting Noble with this project is a great honor for the Beefmaster breed and we are pleased that such a well-respected research institute recognizes the Beefmaster breed for their strong maternal traits,” said BBU Executive Vice President Collin Osbourn.

For more information or to contact the BBU staff members call the office at 210-732-3132 or visit www.beefmasters.org. Stay connected to BBU through Facebook, follow us on Instagram, view our videos on YouTube, and follow us on Twitter. Receive our news updates through joining our mailing list.