Learn About Birthweight in Brahman Cattle

November 11, 2019
by Rachel Cutrer
We believe that the Brahman bull is the #1 bull to use in crossbreeding systems throughout the south, where warm climates and harsh conditions prevail. 
Using a Brahman bull on any other breed maximizes hybrid vigor, giving you more pounds at weaning and yearling. However, it also means more pounds at birth.
By understanding this, producers can reduce their incidence of calving trouble by using bulls with lower actual birth weights and lower BW EPDs, when they buy bulls from breeders who obsess about reporting accurate actual birth weights, like we do here at BRC.
Dr. Jim Sanders, professor of the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science discusses this topic at length in his “Breeds” class, which Rachel took and surprisingly made an A in despite failing math and chemistry. Data from the McGregor Station shows the difference in birth weights using different breeds. We find this information to be very useful in educating new breeders about how to use Brahman bulls in a crossbreeding program.
Honestly, we don’t worry too much about birth weight when breeding our own pasture cows.  
Here’s why…If you look at those same charts, you notice that the calves with a Brahman dam always have the lowest birth weight. That’s because there’s something in those amazing Brahman cows DNA that actually makes them reduce the birth weights.
So, in managing birth weights, if you have a bull that’s a little higher, don’t stress – all that means is that he just needs to go on registered or purebred Brahman cows, or even cows with at least half Brahman blood.
If you look at our top herd bulls at our ranch, you’ll notice some of them have birth weights even in the 90s.  We don’t stress because those super herd bulls are going on 100% registered Brahman cows.  The Brahman cow will take care of it.
Here are our recommendations for breeding Brahman bulls:
  • We do not recommend breeding any Brahman bull to British heifers, no matter what the birth weight.
  • We feel comfortable recommending a bull with an actual birth weight of 79 pounds or less are suitable to use on British cows. We also take into consideration the BW EPD.
This chart is very helpful in understanding what to expect when using Brahman bulls in crossbreeding, especially when breeding a Brahman bull to an Angus or Hereford female. The important points to consider are:
1. Brahman sired calves out of British cows have a much heavier average birthweight than British sired calves out of a Brahman cow. Estimated 15 to 20 pounds heavier.
2. In Brahman sired calves out of a Hereford or Angus cow, the BULL CALVES are much heavier than the heifer calves.
3. For various crosses, the more Brahman blood in the sire compared to the amount of Brahman blood in the dam, the heavier the calves tend to be.
4. The same effect is seen in embryo transfer calves.
Here at BRC, we care about our customers and their success. We won’t sell you a bull unless we have personally taken his birthweight, and trust him to work in your program and your environment and breeding program. We have Brahman bulls for sale at the ranch now starting at $5000 and would love to help supply your Brahman breeding bull needs. Contact us to come see what we have or have us text or email you photos.
Data published with permission from Texas A&M University, Dr. Jim Sanders

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