Thailand Beefmasters- The First Decade

by Joe Mask | Published October 6, 2021


In 2010, BBU launched an initiative to introduce Beefmasters in Thailand in response to Thai beef breeders seeking to improve the national beef efficiency and meat quality. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded the “Emerging Markets Grant” to help with the educational and promotional work, while a group of BBU breeders donated top quality semen for this program. It was distributed across Thailand through a Bangkok genetics firm, Yenwa Ltd.

Vinit and Pawanee of Yenwa Ltd helped educate the Thai beef industry about Beefmasters’ benefits and brought Thai cattlemen to America to view and learn more about the breed.  Dept of Livestock Development (DLD) officials also attended animal health sessions in Texas to confirm suitability of the beef breed for Thai environments.  Since the first donated semen tanks were shipped, Yenwa Ltd and other genetic brokers, including the DLD, have purchased, shipped, and distributed several thousand straws of CSS semen for national AI beef assistance programs.

TS Farm’s founder, Sittipong Kritchpakorn, was the first person who managed to crossbreed Beefmaster genetics with Thai native cattle. The first male calf was born at TS Farms on 9 December 2010. That set the stage for Beefmasters to flourish and Beefmasters soon became a premium commercial breed across Thailand and Malaysia. Packers were willing to pay premium prices for provable Beefmaster pregnancies. During the past 10 years, Sittipong, alongside with his “12 Breeders” colleagues and other large beef farms, have led in the development of purebred Beefmasters in Thailand.  Now, there is a Thai Beefmaster registry and marketing groups, while some of the local breeders also maintain registry within BBU. Sittipong and his colleagues have exported Beefmaster genetics and live cattle from across BBU in the USA through direct private treaty purchases, several BBU auctions, and recent internet sales. This includes over 30 Beefmasters in 2020 and over 200 live Beefmasters in the past five years.

BBU and our “Go International Team” have enjoyed having Vinit and Pawanee of Yenwa Ltd bring several groups of Thai visitors, including Sittipong and the “12 Breeders” to tour ranches and export diverse genetics.  Yenwa continues to attend cattle shows across Thailand and provide videos and information concerning Beefmaster genetics

Sittipong maintains a TS Farms website to educate Thais on the Six Essentials and use of EPDs in evaluating individual animal performance.  He is a dedicated BBU International Member and monitors several Beefmaster Facebook pages.  BBU considers our good friend, Sittipong, the Father of Thai Beefmasters and appreciate Vinit and Pawanee of Yenwa as the Great Uncle and Aunt.

In July 2020, BBU Board of Directors established a new award for International Breeder of the Year and the first recipient named Sittipong for his efforts for Beefmasters in Thailand and in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the BBU Thai Initiative.

Beefmasters Benefit Beef Breeders

Beefmaster is an American beef breed that improves beef quality and production efficiency when crossed with any other cattle breed for commercial beef production.

Beefmaster History

Beefmasters originated in Southern Texas in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. The Lasater family originally developed a large herd of Hereford cattle carefully selected to withstand the heat and insects of the Texas Gulf Coast region, but they were still not perfectly suited to that difficult environment. So Lasater began to experiment with incorporating Bos indicus or Zebu genetics, in the form of Gyr and Guzerat bulls from India and Nelore from Brazil. While the practice of crossbreeding was virtually unheard of at the time, they immediately saw a tremendous jump in productive traits, such as weight gain and reproductive rates.  This is genetic advantage known as heterosis or hybrid vigor.

By the early 1930’s, the ranch also incorporated Milking Shorthorn genetics, to augment milk production and carcass quality. They could immediately see that the three-way hybrid was far superior to the two-way crosses. The final composite ended up at roughly 50% Bos indicus and 50% Bos taurus (25% Hereford and 25% Shorthorn).

As Lasater developed the breed, he also formed a unique selection philosophy known today as The Lasater Philosophy. The concept is to only select cattle for economically relevant traits, which he distilled to these Six Essential traits. It is the only breed in history to be selected only using pressure for productive traits, as opposed to aesthetics.

In 1937, the herd was closed to outside genetics with continued internal development to cull low-performers and upgrade all traits together equally. By 1954 the foundation herd was recognized by USDA under the name of Beefmaster.

Worldwide Growth

The breed has rapidly grown around the world and has become known as the prime maternal cow for serious commercial cattlemen that appreciate their production excellence, particularly in harsh desert or tropical environments. The breed has excelled across most regions of the United States and is the leading breed of choice for commercial cattlemen in Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Panama, Columbia, and several other Latin American regions. With global demand for higher-quality beef growing geometrically, Beefmasters provide the perfect breed to cross on native cattle to improve production efficiency and carcass quality, while not sacrificing adaptability.

Commercial cattlemen have noted substantial economic gains from using Beefmasters to provide an average increase of 30 kg or more at weaning when compared with other breeds. They excel post-weaning as well, with faster weight gains, excellent feed conversion and carcass yields around 64%.

Recent Expansion Across Europe

During the past 5 years, BBU used the model for the Thai Initiative to expand breeders across various countries in Europe.  Beefmasters have become the first American breed to enter this restricted market.  Beefmaster breeders are growing herds in Italy, Ireland, UK, Poland, Germany, Austria, Portugal, and Spain.  Projects are now being planned for Switzerland, Bulgaria, Russia, Turkey, and North Africa.

In a time when sustainability is becoming increasingly critical, Beefmasters have repeatedly demonstrated that they are highly efficient converters of both forage and feeds into lean, tender, high-quality Beef. A recent study at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) demonstrated Beefmasters dominance when compared to 18 of the most widely used beef breeds in the United States. At the same time, University of Bologna Animal Science Research crowned Beefmasters as the highest heterosis of any bovine breed in the world.

Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) is headquartered in Boerne, Texas. Beefmaster ranks fifth in the U.S. in terms of membership and is the largest of the American breeds. The association has over 3,000 members registering around 19,000 calves annually.

Beefmasters also enjoy a rapidly growing international footprint, with established associations in eight countries worldwide. These innovative cattlemen have seen the tremendous strengths Beefmasters bring to their own genetic improvement programs. For more information about what Beefmasters can do for your operation, please visit us at www.beefmasters.org/international.

For local discussion in Thailand, contact yenwa@yenwa.com; tsfarms39@gmail.com

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