J. A. Thomas
Hybrid vigor and F1 crosses for Foothill grazing.
We have all read about hybrid vigor of some sort or another. Whether it is crossing them out to get bigger calves or the increase in their immune system that it comes with. Recently I was in a conversation about longhorn type cattle and how they walked more and therefore encouraged the persons other cattle type to move around more and eat. This got me to thinking that Longhorn cross cattle could really improve the cattle type of the central California foothills. I have reasons listed below.
1. Longhorn cattle are more vigorous in their foraging for food.
2. Longhorn cattle are notorious for eating non desirable plant species to other breeds.
3. Longhorn cows are less likely to need help giving birth.
4. Longhorn cows are great at mothering their calves
5. Longhorn cows are fierce fighters against natures predator animals.
6. Mini longhorn bulls would help decrease the enormous size of some animals in the herd. 800lbs eats less than 1200.
7. Longhorn cows are known to produce for a longer life span, would decrease investment over time.
8. Lower medication cost due to hybrid vigor
9. Higher $$$ per calf as all natural beef sells for premium
This makes me think that a longhorn cross heifer bred back to a beef breed of choice would likely produce an outstanding calf. If bred to a polled bull there would not be any chance of horns to lower price yet still gain the benefits of the hybrid vigor. These F1 cows would show stronger immune systems needing less medication, lower feed intake to produce the calf crop and a better consuming of varied feed available in our foothills. If a mini longhorn was used this would decrease the cow size of the herds because an 800 pound animal requires less feed than a 1200 pound cow. This could lead to more calves on ground. These cows would likely produce longer than the rest of the herd as longhorns have produced into late teen years, with hybrid vigor also.
By decreasing the size of ones cows a person could then have more calves on the ground each year. When these F1 cows are bred back to a bull of choice you could focus on weaning weight EPD's to have calves that get to weight faster. With the hybrid vigor plus fast weight gain you could have calves ready to ship faster and not have to feed the entire cow herd as long. The calves would not be consuming the forage that is needed over the winter as they would be sold. By using a Mini longhorn bull on a part of the herd one could consistently produce a new crop of F1 heifers. If a herd manager looked carefully through his herd he could pick out the easy keepers and put only those with the Mini LH bull. This would help insure the heifers produced for the F1 program had good food conversion genetics, coupled with smaller size and Hybrid vigor could really boost a program.