by Kaylee Smith, Intern
When you look at a Brahman, the first thing you may notice is the hump and large ears, the two main characteristics Brahman cattle are known for.
What you might not know, is the significance that hump height has on Brahman cattle.
Selection for hump height can produce larger correlated responses on other traits.
Many of these traits involving hump height, such as marbling scores, quality grade, and percentage KPH (kidney, pelvic, heart fat), have a moderate correlation.
But, other traits such as adjusted back fat thickness, hot carcass weight, yield grade and cutability, have a much larger correlation to hump height.
This topic alone has been talked about for a long time now, especially at packing houses and sale barns, but unfortunately in a negative context. Most people see a large hump on an animal and automatically assume they are more Bos Indicus influenced and that they will fall short when it comes to tenderness and meat quality.
Bigger is Better!
From a breed character standpoint, staunch breeders like BRC places a big emphasis on good sized humps. But, a lot of times people who don’t care about breed character are like, so what, who cares about the hump.
When you get down to it, breed character is a lot more than just a source of pride for breeders. The reason it’s important to our breed is because it has economic relevance.
For example, old-school Brahman breeders like us like a loose, pliable hide over a tight-hided animal because the more skin an animal has, the more sweat it can produce to repel heat.
We like bigger humps because that indicates an animal in good condition, and good nutrition.
Hump height is very interactive with carcass weight and condition on an animal, meaning, animals that have larger humps tend to be better conditioned, faster growing, have access to better nutrition, and are considered of higher eating quality by consumers.
The relationship between hump size and quality of meat ultimately comes down to is how well an animal is fed and the condition of which it carries.
Genetics have evolved so much over the years, that selecting for moderate type cattle that have heavier weaning weights, higher IMF (intramuscular fat) scores and marbling can surely help in combating this negative stereotype that Brahman cattle face.
Everything boils down to genetics, and selecting the right traits to produce high quality beef cattle is the key to any rancher’s success.