Redefine animal efficiency and the way we breed for it and we get a very different and arguably more profitable animal, says Johann Zietsman, a ranching consultant from Zimbabwe, Africa.
Zietsman pioneered ultra-high-density grazing in the 1990s and bred up a highly fertile, easy-keeping breed he named the Veldmaster. His concepts for combining visual appraisal with a harsh but practical production system were featured in the October edition of Beef Producer under the title "Selection made simple: Pick the 8-in-5 package."
In the February edition of Beef Producer Zietsman continued his descriptions of how to select animals for much higher efficiency in a rangeland situation.
One of the primary tools Zietsman used on his own herd and a tool he continues to recommend is to rank yearling bulls by their current weight as a percentage of estimated mature weight. This measures efficiency and rapidity of growth without selecting for large-framed animals.
To do this you measure their hip height, rank it by months of age and then project mature hip height and weight using the standard frame score charts from Beef Improvement Federation. These are sometimes called the "Missouri frame score charts."
Then you rank them by which bulls have the highest percentage of that estimated mature weight at one year of age. The higher the percentage of mature weight they achieve the better they are. You can read the original article on Page 4 of the digital edition of the February Beef Producer.
Zietsman also used other criteria to select his Veldmaster cattle. You can see his description of those ideas in his full review. Download it using the link below.