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  • Megan Silveira, associate editor

From Continent to Continent - Expanding the Reach of Angus Genetics

U.S. cattle producers can have a global effect on the industry with the help of reproductive technologies.

by Megan Silveira, assistant editor

Across the United States, black-hided cattle of the Business Breed all look fairly similar. Every producer has their major likes and dislikes when it comes to the phenotype of their herds, but for the most part, U.S. cattle share many of the same fundamental traits.

The cattle industry, however, stretches across the entire planet, and cattle must fulfill various purposes from continent to continent. The United States is where many turn to for Angus genetics, making it a location of untapped potential for breeders.

“The United States is a source country,” said PJ Budler, international business manager for Trans Ova Genetics during his virtual Learning Lounge presentation during the 137th Angus Annual Meeting. “This is where most of the world comes to source its genetics, and there’s good reason for that.”

Budler said this is where some of the world’s best and worst cattle are — but said this is a good thing. While the United States has a broad spectrum of types and kind when it comes to cattle, he said this is a reflection of the country’s eagerness and ability to try different types of breeding technologies.

With the influencing capability American producers have, combined with the power behind the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB) brand, the Angus breed has set a standard for the entire industry for both producers and consumers Budler describes as unprecedented.

“It’s changed the look of the industry for sure, and has also given Angus an incredible premium brand,” he explained. “That perception is in everyone’s mind.”

Part of what makes U.S. cattle so unique is the three lanes of production. Budler said these lanes include a heavy emphasis on expected progeny differences (EPDs) and genomics, large herds of functional cows designed to wean big calves, and the “recreational” cattle of the seedstock industry.

Outside of the United States, however, Budler said these “lanes” do not exist.

“In other countries, pieces of all three lanes are blended into one. It’s a more hybridized approach to producing Angus cattle,” he explained.

Each country possesses its own needs and challenges when it comes to the Angus breed. The reproductive technologies used here in the United States allow for U.S. cattle producers to continue to fill the role of a genetic source.

Countries in South America typically seek traditional Angus genetics and typical breed characteristics, but nutritional programs and requirements are vastly different from what U.S. producers are used to.

European producers are on the search for a continental animal, and breed for larger-framed cattle that still exhibit leanness. As consumers are beginning to demand more flavor and tenderness in meat products, some of the breeding programs are shifting as well.

In Africa Red Angus cattle are typically more sought-after, but black-hided cattle are still being utilized in higher altitudes or to help upgrade indigenous cattle popular in the area. Producers in Asia are utilizing Angus genetics as the foundation for a new frontier of cattle, rebuilding the national cattle herd one head of Angus at a time.

Through the matching of specific Angus genomics to the proper environment and appropriate market, Budler said U.S. producers can continue to expand the reach and success of the Angus breed.

“Not everyone wants the same thing. Not everyone needs the same thing,” Budler said. “In the past, appropriate genetics have not been sent to the appropriate setting.”

He said it’s up to U.S. cattlemen to be the pivot of change, the center point of growth. The burden of change relies on producers in the United States.

A massive opportunity lies before this country’s cattle industry. Budler believes with a focus on improvement for the entire world and promotion of proper animal husbandry, producers in the United States can utilize the Angus breed to push the entire cattle industry into the future.

Budler urges producers to remember this is so much more than just promoting the Angus breed. It’s about helping ensure the entire beef industry is ready to provide meat products for generations to come.

Editor’s note: Visit the Angus Convention Virtual Learning Lounge to watch the full webinar, “ Embryo Transfer & In Vitro Fertilization: Expanding Your Market."


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