United States' abundance of corn has been beneficial to providing low cost
beef to the packers if not our retail customers. The downside is an
abundance of inexpensive feed can often compensate for inadequacies in an
One of the mixed blessings of the Sandhills is the limited feed
available to cattle. The cows that stay in the JHL herd must be efficient
at grass conversion. The resulting replacement females will have lower
maintenance requirements. In a typical year, very little winter supplementation
is provided to the mature cows beyond that of natural (8% protein) prairie
The progeny that end up in the feedlot will also be more efficient at
changing carbohydrates into protein.
Currently our rolling four year average of all (top to bottom through
to the rail) steers from the ranch are gaining 3.85 lbs per day at a
conversion rate of 6.1 lbs of feed per pound of gain. Couple this with a less than
aggressive approach to implants and it is evident that these cattle are
efficient and able to perform in the feedlot.
We are in the process of testing RFI (Residual Feed Intake) data
collected on some of the sires we are using. This is data that has been collected
through the Canadian based Grow-Safe system. The Braunvieh Association of America
has held national bull sales utilizing this collection
source. With the amount of
difference in feed costs shown between animals this is a very difficult
trait to ignore for the serious breeder.