Combining breeds for commercial beef production is not new to the beef industry in America. Perhaps the first composite developed in the U.S. was the American Brahman breed which was an amalgamation of several breeds of cattle from India. This was followed by the development of the Santa Gertrudis breed (5/8 Shorthorn and 3/8 Brahman) by the King Ranch in Southern Texas during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Santa Gertrudis was the first truly American breed of beef cattle. During the 40’s and 50’s several other composites were formed by combining either two (Brangus, Braford, Charbray) or three (Beefmaster-Brahman x Hereford x Shorthorn, Hays Converter-Brown Swiss, Hereford and Holstein) breeds. A little known four-breed composite was started in 1942 by F. N. Bard of Kirkland, Arizona, known as Barzona.

Although crossbreeding of cattle for beef production has been practiced in the U.S. on a small scale for more than 50 years, it did not become widespread, except in the Gulf Coast area, until the 1970’s. When I came to Virginia in 1954, only 2.3% of the feeder calves sold through the organized state sales were crossbreds and they sold at a considerable disadvantage (10%). By 1970, crossbred calves had climbed to only 12%, whereas at present they account for 50% of all calves sold through the state graded sales. Furthermore, they are selling at a premium, with 1981 fall steer calves averaging from 3.7% above straight Angus steer calves to 9.6% above straight Hereford steer calves.

T. J Marlowe

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 7. Symposia (1), , 411-416, 1982
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