• Sarah Harris, Angus Journal intern

Global and Domestic Increase in Angus Genetics Demand

Angus semen is a highly sought-after commodity that solidifies a major market share.

There’s no denying that the Business Breed is well-renowned for stamping quality into calf crops from both a genetic and phenotypic standpoint. Angus cattle are known across the world for their dynamic breed strengths, and the versatility of their beneficial characteristics lends Angus breeders the advantage in a highly sought-after market share.

In fact, the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) reports an increase in demand for U.S. Angus genetics through semen sales in its annual analysis not only domestically, but throughout the world.

Advancements in science have proven to be advantageous for numerous cattle outfits globally, as the option to use reproductive methods aside from natural service continues to become more popular.

This allows producers to develop more complex mating schemes with each breeding season.

The NAAB concludes that among 7,756,986 reported beef semen exports, Angus semen accounted for 78% of the global market share, with a 33% increase in global demand from 2019 to 2020. From a monetary standpoint, beef semen export sales amassed $20,168,770 in revenue — an approximate 24% increase from 2019 to 2020.

The NAAB concludes the domestic U.S. usage of Angus semen experienced a 17% increase, a trend Kelli Retallick, director of genetic and genomic programs at Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI), says could be due to the push for beef-on-dairy systems.

“We continue to see the demand of Angus genetics grow,” Retallick says, “and [this trend] has been interesting for Angus breeders to follow.”

The demand for increased beef genetics is a trend that isn’t just limited to the Angus breed. The NAAB reports that from 2019 to 2020, units of custom frozen beef semen in the United States increased by 60%. Of those figures, Angus semen collections increased by 78%, respectively.

What does this mean for Angus breeders?

Retallick says the increased demand for Angus genetics results in breeders providing dynamic mating options via semen sales for numerous facets of the cattle industry.

“The domestic beef semen sales correlate with the amount of Angus semen that is being used on beef-on-dairy crossbreeding schemes,” she says. “The developed Angus-on-Dairy $Value indices are specifically designed for this crossbreeding scheme.”

When one of the four largest packers chose to stop harvesting straight-bred dairy steers, coupled with the increased use of sexed semen to create dairy replacement females, the beef-on-dairy movement gained considerable momentum. Bull studs and other industry groups have been intensively working with dairy systems, developing F1 crosses with improved terminal characteristics, for three years.

Retallick says the beef-on-dairy movement replaces the traditional dairy feeder calf with a more efficient, easier-feeding crossbred that integrates more pounds of quality product into the food system.

“If the dairy industry can help us solve the problem of continuously putting a consistent beef product in front of the consumer, that gives us a leg up on our real competition in the animal protein space –– corporate pork and poultry,” Retallick says.

Some breeders may fear that these F1 dairy crosses will threaten the commercial industry, but she reiterates the dairy herd isn’t growing — dairy producers are replacing a product [full-blood dairy calves] that is already present.

“With the uptake in Angus genetics throughout breeding schemes, producers see the value of the Angus breed,” Retallick says. “These cattle are just going to get better as mating schemes are designed around this crossbreeding system. This will continue to push all of us in the beef industry to continuously improve our own product being placed on the market.”