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Building a better beef cow

0312
 2019


A vintage photo of one of The Luling Foundation’s early champion bulls

BY CLAYTON STROMBERGER

At the Luling Foundation, refining the production of the very best Angus cattle is done by combining detailed research and science’s latest tools. Here are a few interesting facts about the work:
  • EPD, or Estimated Progeny Difference, is a detailed analysis of data about a sire and dam that is exact enough for breeders to place a dollar value on a calf destined to produce top-quality beef.
  • At the foundation facility, tanks of liquid nitrogen can hold up to 600 “straws” of valuable semen.
  • Ideally, a bull used to breed heifers should have a genetic trait to sire a low- to moderate-weight calf at birth.
  • The foundation’s certified group scale can weigh 8 to 10 feeder-weight calves at a time (up to 10,000 pounds). Weight is important when cattle are loaded onto trucks, where a delicate balance of weight distribution is essential.
  • The cattle pens were designed by Temple Grandin, a celebrated author and animal science expert who promotes humane, stress-reducing livestock handling and facility design.
 


A modern alternative: freeze branding

Rather than fire branding, the Luling Foundation has been marking its cattle with denatured alcohol and dry ice since starting its Angus herd in 2000. This method can reduce the risk of infection that can occur with fire branding. How it works:
  • The technique is only used on cattle with dark hides.
  • The area to be branded is shaved and sprayed with denatured alcohol until soaked.
  • The brand is removed from coolant and placed on the animal for 50 seconds; holding the brand firmly in place is difficult but necessary.
  • A few weeks after branding, the hair loses its pigmentation and hair follicles turn white, creating a distinctive, easily readable brand.

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