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Quality Pays on the Rail with Commercial Limousin Genetics

Published October 29, 2020

To be competitive in the United States beef market, quality needs to be at the forefront of production goals. This begins at the cow/calf level and goes all the way through the feedlot sector.

To set an industry and consumer standard, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a voluntary quality grade scale which spans eight categories from Prime through Canner. Beef producers aim for the top two places, Prime and Choice, to maximize profits from the premiums attached to these grades. Ultimately, these higher-end grades indicate a product which is superior according to the three universal measures of beef quality. These three measures are tenderness, juiciness and flavor. Because marbling, the result of both genetic capabilities and proper feeding, contributes to all of these, it is considered a pillar of beef grading and quality.

Another voluntary scale the USDA has in place is the yield grade system based on the cutability of a carcass. This measurement is especially of interest to producers because it indicates the true value of a carcass based on its efficiency, or the meat making money when compared to the amount of useless backfat that must be cut off and discarded. Besides an important measure of profitability, yield grade is also an excellent tool to highlight beef efficiency and sustainability when speaking with consumers. This scale goes from Yield Grade 1 (most desirable with the least amount of fat trimmings) down to Yield Grade 5 (least desirable with excessive fat trimmings).

Limousin beef is competitive on both these scales thanks to the breed’s characteristics which combine heavy muscling with low fat. Together, this results in a carcass both highly lean and efficient with a fine marbling and flavor throughout. Consistently, Limousin beef has been lauded for its taste earning numerous awards when compared alongside other breeds.

Not only do these characteristics make the Limousin breed attractive to beef breeders and producers, they also make for desirable commercial bulls who are extremely marketable when used in crossbreeding programs.

The entire concept of crossbreeding has been explored and utilized for a long time. Geneticists say the “hybrid vigor” of two breeds, especially when they have growth and carcass characteristics that complement one another, makes for a more optimal commercial animal who can add serious benefit to the bottom line.

One such hybrid, the Lim-Flex which is a Limousin X Angus cross, proves to be an exceptional, superior crossbred.

Earlier this year in June, commercial Lim-Flex steers were harvested at a Tyson plant in Lexington, Neb., after being finished on a commercial feed yard. The group averaged 1,404 lbs. live weight and dressed at 65.2%. The entire group graded either Choice or Prime.

Because they were Angus crosses, these animals were candidates for the Certified Angus Beef branded program. In all, 44% of the group was eligible for the brand, meaning they were in the upper two-thirds Choice bracket and above. The group ranged from Yield Grade 2 through 4 with 22% making an admirable Yield Grade 2.

In July of this year, a group of Limousin heifers was also harvested at the same Tyson plant. The group averaged 1,326 lbs. on the hoof and dressed at 63.45%. An admirable 20% of this group was Certified Angus Beef eligible, three percent of which were Prime. This group also have exceptional Yield Grades, with three percent scoring a 1 and 25% scoring 2.

How do all these numbers payback the producer? This heifer group met a base market price of $158.42 dresssed, per hundredweight. But because of the high quality resulting in Certified Angus Beef, the group got a premium of $3.08/cwt. or $25.90 per head, bringing the actual price received at $160.50/cwt.

ABOUT

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.

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