Following recent comments and discussions on a ranching group I am a part of, I feel it necessary to clear up some issues:
- Grass quality
The drier the environment, generally, the higher the grass quality. Ranchers in arid environments often make excuses for their cattle genetics and management by citing lack of grass quantity or quality. Although extended periods of no rain does negatively impact on quantity, the effect on quality is much lower. Such environments have much higher quality grazing relative to high rainfall environments. The challenge in arid environments is growing and stockpiling sufficient grass for periods of paucity and not quality. This can be addressed through grazing management. In terms of genetics (nutritional and parasite / disease adaptation), arid environments are far more forgiving.
The more difficult environments from a genetic adaptation point of view are high rainfall environments, particularly in the tropics. Here nutritional and parasite / disease adaptation are essential. Many outsiders equate green grass with quality. This is generally not the case.
- Breed propoganda
This is pervasive and not only misleading, but deceptive.
Many of the claims in terms of grass conversion efficiency (nutritional adaptation) and parasite (tick) resistance are untrue.
The fact that the founders of certain breeds were aware of the genetic variation between breeds in terms of ticks and internal parasites as well as nutritional adaptation does not mean that the breeds in question are fully adapted when selection is contrary to these traits.
- Stocking rate
Stocking rate (grass production and utilization) and grass conversion efficiency (inherent body condition) and not carcass “quality” are the major determinants of ranch profit.
Any talk of consumer / feedlot requirements is generally a diversion from the real issues and mostly breed propaganda.
Conventional and so-called “scientific” selection is not conducive to the breeding of grass productive cattle. Any claims to the contrary is breed propaganda.
The best that conventional selection has done is the breeding of potentially “productive” genotypes that require improved nutrition in order to be “productive”.
The genetic challenges we face are the result of “scientific” selection. These genetic challenges can be solved by using so-called unimproved breeds and genotypes.
In other words: To advance we have “rewind”.
Our only moral and legitimate role as cattle breeders is to “read nature correctly and accelerate natural selection”.
All of us know what the real issues are. We should focus there and not on side shows.