With help from cattle producers through the Florida Cattle Enhancement Fund, researchers with the University of Florida's Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) hope to develop Brahman cattle that can better tolerate heat, produce more tender meat and have improved fertility.
IFAS researchers would like Brahman cattle owners from around Florida to participate in the project, but first, they need data from ranchers.
Over the next two years, researchers will collect pedigree data and records from producers as scientists hope to identify animals with superior marbling, tenderness and fertility, IFAS animal sciences associate professor Raluca Mateescu said.
“Continued evaluation and selection of superior animals will lead to a genetically improved Florida Brahman population over the coming years,” Mateescu said. “The goal is to genetically improve the purebred Brahman population in Florida so when these animals are used in crossbreeding programs, they produce superior offspring.”
Florida beef cattle populations are mostly a cross between Angus and Brahman breeds, or Brangus, she said. The purebred Angus cattle do not perform well in Florida’s hot, humid, subtropical environment. While the Brahman do perform well in the Florida environment, their meat tends to be less tender and less marbled, and they tend to have fewer calves.
If scientists can find the superior Brahmans for tenderness, marbling and fertility, they can improve those traits over time, Mateescu said. Superior cattle are kept as parents to produce the next generation.
“The next generation will be superior to the old one if the genetic evaluation is accurate,” she said. The more data IFAS researchers can collect from ranchers, the more accurate their genetic predictions will be.
“This is what we’ve done in the IFAS herds for more than 30 years; we were able to show genetic improvement in meat tenderness, marbling and productive ability,” Mateescu said.
Florida ranchers who wish to participate may contact Mateescu at [email protected] or (352) 392-2367.