WHY COMPOSITE BREEDING?
Commercial Horned Hereford cattle dominated the CL ranch herd until the 1960’s. At this time, through the use of widely accumulated research and on-ranch testing, an extensive system of crossbreeding was undertaken. Select American Brown Swiss, Braunvieh and Simmental genetics were added to the Hereford cow base through AI and home bred bulls. In 1973, the herd was closed and a process of intense selection for maternal characteristics through the BeefBooster system was carried out until 1996.
The CL SuperCross seedstock cattle breeding program does not focus on selection for any one trait in particular. We aim to produce cattle that will succeed through all the levels of the industry to the consumers’ plates, with true economic efficiency and the overall satisfaction received by the end user. We insist upon a cow that will raise a strong calf every year under extensive range conditions. Then we insist upon this cow’s calf to maintain a high and efficient post-weaning gain in the finishing lots. When our cattle are slaughtered, we strive for them to be high yielding, tender, and tasty. Our cows function on a 40-45 day breeding interval in rugged range conditions. We expect conception rates in the upper 90% range, and focus hard on pounds weaned per cow in the fall. Our calving dates start approximately on the 10th of April for our main cow herd. Conformation and overall environmental compatibility are essential in the selection process of our cattle, as well as the selection based on the performance figures that we collect at all the stages of production.
We here at CL Ranch are constantly striving to improve upon the genetic composition of our cowherd in order to maximize the CL herd's overall potential. We remain vigilant with regards to maintaining a herd with maternal qualities that are second to none. We are determined to capture the maximum value available for carcasses but also keeping in mind an ever-changing feeding environment. For us, the answer to this was Sussex.
Today over 50% of our cow herd contains varying degrees of Sussex in their genetic makeup. Their ability to adapt to our harsh Alberta environment has been beyond our expectations. The crossbred Sussex cattle are highly efficient in today’s high cost grain markets. They are easily maintaining body condition, fertility and now longevity within the CL herd on nothing but a forage based diet. We believe in raising natural cattle that do not require hormones in order to perform and this is where the SussexCross cattle are truly beginning to shine.
Though most of our progeny are retained and “fed or bred” through our various systems, CL does offer a select group of bulls each year through the Annual CL SuperCross Bull Sale in the Spring of each year.
The future of breeding cattle lies in finding the profitability through predictability of their performance at all levels of beef production. With this in mind, CL Ranches has become a founding investor in Sendero Limited a company whose focus is on bringing together like minded producers, feeders and eventually possibly even packers to create a value chain based on not only the genetic merit of the cattle but also the management that goes into producing them. Using a mix of phenotypic and genomic information, earlier replacement selection is possible and thus allowing for more economically efficient practices to occur that favour not only the animal but our pocketbook as well. Predictability of performance is the name of the game and being able to soundly prove this whether for replacement purposes or feeding is key in large scale settings. For more information please visit their website through the link below.