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The Beckton Program: Cow Size

The goal for Beckton's program has always been to develop breeding seedstock which offer increased levels of performance for the commercial cattleman.  Increased performance does not mean maximizing weight and size, which have already reached the upper limit of economic value for the packer and consumer.  It does, however, mean increasing performance related to calving percentage and weaning percentage; and increasing performance related to cow maintenance requirements and "pounds of calf per acre" efficiency.

Size Matters

Beckton cattle are already big enough for the consumer and the packer.  Using yearling weight EPD as the best available indicator of market size, the average for our sale bulls is +80, about the same as the Red Angus breed average, so for market size our cattle are directly comparable.  They are fairly comparable for weaning weight EPD also, so Beckton cattle offer weaning and yearling performance very similar in today's mainstream Red Angus.

The big difference between Beckton's program and others is that we select for additional weaning and yearling weight, but with the restriction that we have maintained about the same cow size over time.  In contrast, the industry has allowed cow size to increase at the same rate as calf size.  Cow size is the largest factor determining maintenance requirements.  Our goal over the past 30 years has been to increase efficiency, not size.  To our knowledge no other seedstock breeding program has had such a goal, or maintained it for so long.

 
Year
Weight (lbs.)
Beckton Cow Weight Average
(mature lactating cows taken at weaning)
1978
1,126
1982
1,126
1986
1,064
1990
1,115
1994
1,067
1998
1,125
2002
1,104
2006
1,093
2010
1,068
2016
1,056

Cow weights vary from year to year depending on grass, weather or other short term factors.  But overall our cow size has stayed fairly constant over time.

Additional Facts about the Beckton Program

 

Birth Weight
  • Every sire entering our own program is used fi rst on our own heifers, then on our cows.
Efficiency
  • The typical dam of our bulls weans over 50% of her body weight in 205 days, under range conditions, with no creep-feeding.
  • We have never used high birth weight sires in any part of our program, so big birth weights are rare.
  • The average dam produces over 100% of her own body weight in a year.
  • We get the pay weight, but with lower birth weights and greater calving ease.
  • The average mature cow (age 5+) weighs about 1100-1125 pounds.
  • Full production from heifers. We use the same bulls on heifers and cows.
Fertility
  • Every bull in our program is used in natural service, with 30-50 heifers/cows.
Growth
  • Weaning efficiency, and rate of gain to slaughter weight second to none.
  • Every cow in our program must cycle naturally and breed early under range conditions
  • Growth traits must be consistent with maintaining maternal qualities.
Value
  • Beckton Red Angus produce more growth without high birth weights.
  • Beckton cattle are ideally sized for today’s packer demand.
  • They are the one-bull solution that can be used on both heifers and cows.
Hardiness
  • Every cow in the herd has spent part of her life in the Big Horn Mountain summer range, at elevations from 7,000 to 10,500 feet.
  • Carcass quality is an extra benefit.
  • In 2001 we PAP tested all of our herd sires. The herd average PAP score was 32.5 at 4000’, equivalent a herd average PAP of 39 at 8000’ (excellent scores).
Integrity
  • Beckton has been genetically improving Red Angus since 1945, a 30-60 year lead time over other producers.
  • By the time she is 5, our average cow will have been trailed over 80 miles, above and beyond normal pasture rotation.
  • It is a complete, genetically sound breeding program, which demands whole-herd performance.

 


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