How much Brahman blood do you need to capitalize on heat tolerance?

May 5, 2021

And why BRC should be your choice for buying Brahman bulls.

Texas A&M University’s Beef Cattle Browsing newsletter for May 2021 published a research article about the “Effect of Percent Brahman on Heat Tolerance and Grazing Behavior.” This research seems to address the question of “How much Brahman blood is truly needed to capture the benefits of heat tolerance?

This research was originally published in the Journal of Animal Science 96:2175 and conducted by the University of Florida. The research study found that it takes at least 50% – and preferably 75% or more Brahman blood when cattle are in severe heat stress – see optimal adaptation to heat stress.

The benchmark the study used for “heat stress” was over 86 degrees F.

Heck, we get that temperature here sometimes at Christmas. So, if you’re ranching in south Texas, or along the gulf coast, your cattle are likely in temperatures in the 80s or higher nearly all year long.

The study evaluated different degrees of Brahman influence, from 0% Brahman (i.e. your Angus, Herefords, etc)., 1/4 blood Brahman, 3/8 Brahman (i.e. Brangus), halfblood Brahman, 3/4 Brahman, and 100% Brahman. The researchers measured body temperature and also how much time the cattle spent under the shade trees.

Heat tolerance is one of the major benefits of using Brahman cattle. It’s why Brahman are so prevalent and popular in Central America and South America and other tropical climates of the world. As we continue to focus on environmental sustainability and animal welfare, this research confirms what we have always known – it takes Brahman cattle to efficiently raise beef in the hottest climates of the world.

We also found it interesting that the article plainly said: “However, Brahman cattle have some undesirable characteristics – especially lower carcass quality and delayed age at puberty – the latter being offset by longer productive life.”

Insert sad face emoji, right? It seems the article says, “you need Brahman blood – but there are some downfalls of using Brahman too..”

Which, we get. We’ve heard that for 40 years. But, that’s also why we are working SO HARD to improve these traits here at BRC.

First let’s address lower carcass quality:

  • BRC has been benchmarking, analyzing, and improving carcass quality on our cattle for over a decade. We have taken our herd from less than 20% choice in 2010 to every bull of our last sale group hitting the benchmark for grading Choice based on ultrasound data.
  • We believed in our Brahman’s carcass quality so much that we started Brahman Country Beef, the USA’s first 100% Brahman Beef program. We also have created FitBeef, another beef brand based on 100% Brahman cattle that offers many health advantages for lean beef and healthy fats.
  • In our last ultrasound group, we had bulls reaching 5%, 6%, and even 7% for % IMF.
  • Our Grand Champion Female at Waco (Houston) this year, also reached the ultrasound benchmark for Choice.
  • We are producing visually outstanding animals that can help you maintain – and definitely not sacrifice – any carcass quality.

Now, the delayed age of puberty.

  • Again, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. While we love the older generations, they had the wrong mindset on accepting late maturity in Brahmans. Our forefathers just accepted later maturity as something Brahman breeders had to deal with. We are pushing the bar on this.
  • We have Brahman bulls now passing fertility tests at 14 months of age.
  • We have Brahman bulls producing high quality semen at 14 months of age.
  • Our typical age of passing a fertility test for bulls is 14-16 months old. If they don’t pass one by 2 years old, they are culled.

So, what does all this mean:

  1. The authors concluded that, “Brahman genetics did not increase ability to regulate body temperature until cattle were at least 50% Brahman, or when heat stress was severe, when cattle were greater than 75% Brahman. It is likely, therefore, that using Brahman genetics to optimize adaptation to thermal stress under conditions of severe heat stress requires a preponderance of Brahman genes.
  2. You know you need Brahman blood in your herd – really to the degree of breeding 100% Brahman or putting a Brahman bull back on your halfblood replacements – but you don’t want to sacrifice carcass quality and you don’t want to wait until they are 3 years old to breed them. Yes. We agree. Come to BRC for your Brahman herd sires – where you will find bulls backed by genomics (the only bulls of the breed), documented for carcass quality, and with a strong focus on fertility and reproduction. Our bulls sell out fast – and we think there’s a reason for that – because smart cattleman realize just what this article said. And, they want to buy their bulls from the best. And, they don’t like a big high pressure, high price sales hassle. They just want good bulls, and to buy from good people. Come see us and let us help you!

Contact any member of our team for more information about our current Bulls for Sale.

Source: Journal of Animal Science

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