There is a shift in bull/calf breeding trends, according to new study

As bull sale season comes to a close and video auctions ramp up this summer, a new study from Kansas State University shows shifting breed trends among the nation’s feeder calves.

Dr. Ken Odde of Kansas State University has studied health, genetics, and price data-- among other factors-- from Superior Livestock Auction sales for the past 25 years. His most recent published work builds on a study released last year and indicates a continued change in breed makeup among the nation’s feeder calves.

According to Dr. Odde, “What we actually saw, as of course as you might expect, the Angus breed is by far the dominant sire breed in the data, but it did go down slightly from 2010, and that data went through 2018 from a little over 80 percent to a little over 70 percent... we saw some other breed, including Sim Angus that actually had growth during that point in time.”

New analysis of nearly 400,000 total calves sold in Superior’s 2020 summer sales shows increasing value for SimAngus steer calves.

“This analysis was in steers. So obviously this is looking at these sire breeds more from a terminal sire perspective than it would be from a maternal perspective,” he explains. “What we actually saw, was the SimAngus were higher than the other breeds or breed combinations, except for Charolais.”

He goes on to say, “The SimAngus-sired and the Charolais-sired were statistically similar, and they’re the two highest categories that we actually have in the analysis. And, we think a lot of that has to do with how those cattle perform in the feedlot and also how they perform on the rail.”

SimAngus demand has increased eightfold from 2010 to 2018. Meanwhile, breeds like Charolais remained relatively flat. Odde says that the regression analysis used in research models adjusts for many other factors that affect calf prices-- including lot size, calf sex, and value-added marketing programs.

“I think the primary benefit to the Simmental producers here is two things. One is it shows them that there’s some growth going on in the utilization of SimAngus sires in this data, and we think this is pretty representative of large herds nationally,” he adds. “We see that in the data. Then secondly, we’re also seeing that the value of that SimAngus-sired steer calf really respected in the marketplace, and I think, that’s ultimately really important.”