The Limousin breed has repeatedly earned admiration and lauds for its high meat quality. Not only is this pleasing for the consumer’s palate, it’s also beneficial for the bottom line of farms and ranchers. For these beef producers, there is another breed characteristic that stands out – strong maternal traits and qualities.
The profitability of maternal strengths is not as immediately obvious when compared to the terminal carcass traits. However, the maternal attributes of both the dam and sire are absolutely crucial for getting that end product as they are aimed at a healthy and prolific calf. These traits alone are what has made Limousin cattle and genetics attractive to cow-calf producers who have struggled in this area.
Not only has the breed proven itself for its mothering and calving abilities, but Limousin dams also repeatedly produce calves that are robust and ready to work – helping farmers and rancher earn more with less work. Due to the strong genetic component of these nature, herds looking to boost their maternal EPDs and traits can benefit from adding Limousin genetic influence.
Here is a rundown of some of the key maternal attributes and why they matter to your herd’s bottom line.
Calving ease is an essential trait for a sire to have when servicing vulnerable first-calf heifers. However, dams with a more favorable calving ease component are also excellent as the likelihood of them having issues during parturition and needing assistance is unlikely. This is a crucial advantage for operations with limited help or are more report with limited calving check abilities.
According to the most recent International Cattle Evaluation run, Limousin and Limflex sires and dams average +11 for the calving ease direct EPD.
Thanks to both maternal qualities and vigor, Limousin calves are known for their robust nature and enthusiastic nursing characteristics. While there are many was to look at and evaluate the strength of calves, one of the most important determinates is how the calf behaves in the first few hours of life.
From the moment a calf hits the ground, the clock begins ticking on maximal antibody absorption from colostrum. The longer it takes a calf to drink (and the less amount it drinks) the less ability the gut has to absorb the dense immunoglobulins. Naturally lethargic calves, in severe cases, will need human assistance to rebound, adding to time and cost of labor.
In no small part due to vigor, calves with Limousin parentage also tend to have very desirable weaning, birth and yearling weights as these are all very closely correlated. Notably, across breeds, Limousins average +2.0 above the industry baseline for birthweight. Active Limousin sires also have an average weaning and yearling weights of 61 and 88lbs. with highs of 104 and 169lbs.
Of course, healthy calves would not be possible without the exceptional maternal capabilities of Limousin and Limflex cows. The milkability of the Limousin breed has been well known, in fact it is what attracts many producers to incorporating Limousin crosses into their herds. Active Limousin dams and sires currently average +21 and +22 for maternal milk, respectively.
Research has shown that hybrid vigor, as in the case of Limflex herds, rapidly increases lactation averages, making crossbreeding a way to quickly increase milk production. And besides boosting weaning weights and yearling weights, maternal milk has also been shown to have a notable impact on marbling later in life. These growth effects of milk output also help create heifer replacements that will grow and reach puberty quickly.
The North American Limousin Foundation is proudly the very first breed association to create an EPD for docility. Giving this tool to breeders and producers allowed them to maximize their selection for more docile offspring, a trait that is just as beneficial for terminal purposes as well as replacement heifers.
According to a 2009 study conducted in Iowa, feedlot cattle with a high docility score had an average daily gain of 0.26 more than animals with a more aggressive score. Docile animals also significantly outperformed their aggressive peers in percentage grading prime and choice.
Research has also found that more docile heifers are more likely to have higher fertility rates when it comes to rebreeding. The Kansas State University’s Beef Cattle Institute noted that the anxiety of heifers brought into the chute for A.I. service was correlated to how quickly they would exit the chute and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making them much less likely to settle after the service.
Limousin cattle deliver to your bottom line. With superior genetics, a simple crossbreeding plan and state-of-the-art selection tools, the Limousin breed will serve profit-minded cow/calf producers. In today’s competitive markets, taking advantage of all available opportunities is key. The Limousin breed offers a variety of options from Fullblood to Purebred to the Lim-Flex® hybrid (Limousin x Angus cross) to match your program’s needs and market goals. Crossbreeding for the right blend of muscle, maternal ability and profit is easy with Limousin seedstock.