Breeding systems for beef cattle management

The main objective of mating is for the farmer to have the traits or characteristics that are desirable to the farmer. Mating is about increasing production and also the quality of the product to the consumer. A farmer has the objective of choosing which type of mating system they want to adopt at their moraka or farm. This article tries to look at the different mating systems that a farmer can adopt for production. The systems are categorized according to random mating system and genetic relationship pedigree.

Reasons for breeding/mating.

For the farmer to say I’m choosing this system of mating they must first understand the reasons why?

  1. the farmer needs to look at the physical traits of the animals and say I want my herd to have these characteristics. After that then they need to select the breed that has that kind of characteristics. It is then introduced into the herd so that it can pass the characteristics to the offspring/young ones.
  2. the farmer wants to do away with undesirable traits from the next generations. By bringing in the good characters it means the less desirable ones are selected against.
  3. it is all about the goals/target that the farmer has put for themselves and the farm. The farmer will have to bring in breeds or choose a breeding system that will help him/her to meet the set goals.

Types of mating systems

Random mating system

Random mating is the mating of individuals without consideration of either pedigree (genetic makeup of the animal) or performance (the results that can be physically seen). In its purest form random mating amounts to allowing the cattle to “run the moraka/farm/ranch.”

Inbreeding system

Inbreeding is the mating of animals more closely related than the average of the breed or population from which they come. This definition implies that all animals within a breed are somewhat related and therefore carry a degree of inbreeding. For example inbreeding usually refers to closely related mating such as full brother/sister or sire/daughter mating. Breeds are created by inbreeding. However, such inbreeding is rather mild. Certain families may demonstrate superior performance, but if a family group has poor average performance it should be discarded quickly.

Line breeding system

Line breeding involves breeding to fairly close relatives and thus is a kind of inbreeding. Line breeding is inbreeding designed to increase relationship of a herd or strain to a single individual. This is done to maintain the superior traits of an outstanding individual among its descendants thereby increasing the number of animals which possess these same outstanding traits. It is when the farmer concentrates on the characteristic or trait that they like and mate animals so that the characteristic is passed form the parent to the other next few generations. But this is done in mind that the undesirable characteristic can also be visible in the next generation.

Line breeding can accomplish several goals:

  1. produce a more consistent and uniform offspring;
  2. identify breeding populations that have no genetic flaws or identify existing flaws so they can be eliminated;
  3. sustain more consistent excellence;
  4. develop line bred progeny that will provide a genetic kick or hybrid vigor when they are out crossed with non-relatives.

Out breeding

Out breeding is the mating of individuals less closely related than the average of the breed or population from which they come. Most breeders practice out breeding because of the widespread fear of inbreeding. Out breeding with accurate selection can result in improvement. However most herds using an out breeding system of mating tend to remain near the breed average. This gives a genetic kick to offspring that are from parents that are as genetically distant from each other within the animals. This is essentially the advantage derived from cross breeding, but that advantage declines in each successive generation. It is not as sustainable as the strengths developed from line breeding.

Cross breeding

This is the mating of animals of different breeds. Crossbreeding is a useful tool in beef production but, as with any tool it must be used intelligently. Likewise as with any tool it must be designed for a specific purpose in order to function effectively.