The Game Changer
Solving the US Cattle Gene Pool Crisis
Testing for Genetic Superiority
The following fact sheet concerning Irish Black® cattle beef genetics is largely taken and condensed from a single-source article that captured attention of cattle producers developing their unique breeding philosophy just as US cattle genetics demonstrated signs of crisis and inferiority. For the full article written prior to the passing of Maurice Boney: ©1998-2008 CATTLE TODAY, INC, Dr. Rod Harris, Little-Known Breed Gaining Industry Attention
First, consider that Irish Black Cattle® were made in America for the specific performance needs of the US Beef Industry and the American consumer. Second, consider maintaining high-quality performance from your herd merely by including excellent bull genetics to your existing cows----- or going the distance to upgrade heifers, too.
Maurice Boney, founder of Irish Black® cattle genetics, worried about the beef business. He expressed that the U.S. cowherd is too diverse, comprised of too many breeds and too many gene-trait combinations to ever produce consistently high-quality products for consumers.
Boney, who ranched in Colorado, developed over his lifetime a linebred breed of cattle called Irish Blacks®. Currently, the breed is gaining attention from cattle feeders, packers and restaurateurs as an answer to many of the industry's pressing concerns. Derived primarily from Beef Friesian genetics and a small amount of vintage Black Angus genetics from the old “Revolution” line, the breed has been close-herd, line-bred for built-in genetic predictability to transmit quality genetics for fertility, production attributes and superior beef quality.
“The genetic make-up of a large portion of today's beef herds is highly heterozygous,” explained Boney. “Because most cattle in the U.S. cow herd are heterozygous – instead of homozygous — for important production and carcass traits, they've lost their ability to transmit desirable genetics for carcass quality and fertility to their offspring.” The result of all this heterozygosity, explained Boney, is genetic instability, inconsistency and diminishing beef quality.
“The extremely broad and ever-expanding gene pools of today's cow herds will only ensure beef's quality continues to decline,” he said. “That's why we have concentrated on producing a highly concentrated, small genetic pool of cattle for correcting many of the problems the industry faces today. Less than two percent of cattle attain the Prime quality grade. The percentage of Choice-quality carcasses falls every year. Our program is built on correcting those problems by producing cattle with heightened predictability to transmit superior, proven genes to their offspring.” Boney's efforts trace back to 1971 when he began implementing a linebreeding program built on the teachings of Dr. Jay Lush, a professor at Iowa State University and world-renowned geneticist.
In doing so, Boney bred 18 heifers back to their sire. He then bred 16 more of the same heifers to a son of their sire (sister X sib matings). By breeding related animals to each other, he was able to ensure his foundation genetics were pure, free of genetic defects and diseases. During the ensuing four decades, he's stayed with the same bloodlines and the same breeding philosophy. And with each generation — layer upon layer, year after year — he concentrated the union of genetically identical genes of his genetics for traits like fertility, marbling, muscling, and built in greater genetic predictability for all of these traits by doing so.
“Over the past 25 years, 75 percent of the people using our blood have never paid us a visit to see our herd,” Boney said. “The bulk of our new customers during this time frame have been neighbors, relatives, or friends of those that are using our blood. The demand for our genetically dominant blood normally exceeds our supply.”
Cattleman Guy Gould confirms Boney's statement when saying, “The demand for quality beef that is tender, well marbled and tasty far exceeds our industry's ability to supply it. It has been proven that people will pay the added price to get a consistent source of such supply. We look forward to visiting with those who recognize the true value of genetic investment we have made in this breed, and understand what the true value of these cattle is in today's marketplace.”
Just as the founding geneticist of our ranch herd experienced, we fully expect the same outcome to be true for Seven Springs Cattle Company. Our goal is to partner with serious and professional breeders who honor this breed and desire to improve their herd with each calving season.
To confirm the superior carcass attributes of the Irish Blacks®, Boney used ultrasound testing on all bulls and heifers. This ultrasound research supported the claims for superior carcass attributes.
Recently, a pen of Irish Black® bulls averaged 11.5 months of age. They had 0.19 inches of back fat, 12.91-inches of ribeye with an average marbling score of 5.74. One of these bulls had 0.18 inches of back fat, a 12.75-square inch ribeye and an astounding marbling score of 7.27. This same bull had a 65-pound birth weight and an actual 205-day weaning weight of 675 pounds.
“Typically, Irish Blacks score two to four scores higher in DNA gene testing for these traits than any of the other breeds have been able to achieve,” said Boney. “Most breeds would be happy with a marbling score of 3.5. Our bulls averaged 5.74.”
In another example, an Irish Black bull and his dam had the highest possible score for both marbling and tenderness on the Igenity test. Needless to say, its cows like this one that made their way into Boney's embryo transfer program. For additional observations and studies concerning genetic superiority, visit: More Reasons To Consider Irish Blacks.
The Irish Black breeding program benefitted from the working relationship between geneticist Maurice Boney and Cattleman Guy Gould. Boney concentrated on the breeding and genetics decisions, embryo transfer and AI work. Gould continues to develop the bulls and heifers at his ranch.
Gould grew up a commercial man, and even though he transitioned to seedstock production, he does not provide Irish Black® cattle special treatment or pampering. Gould tried several other breeds, but wasn't achieving the results he sought. With some breeds his weaning weights were good; but he gave up ground in fertility and calving ease. When he fixed calving problems and fertility, his weaning weights crashed. At that time, he did not know that the Irish Black® cattle were the answer to balance these traits.
In the early 1980s Guy Gould approached Maurice Boney about using Irish Black® bulls on his cow herd.
Gould reported this story in an interview about his recollection of what Boney told him: "These Irish Blacks® will put 100 pounds on your calves at weaning, and all you'll need is two bulls to breed your 140 cows." Then, Boney promised to return his money if the bulls didn't settle all 140 cows---and if the calves didn't weigh 100 pounds more than the previous year's calf crop.
When the two bulls did in fact breed all the cows – and the resulting calves weaned off their mothers weighing 104 pounds more than the previous year's calf crop-- Gould recalls that it was a little hard to believe. But, Boney didn't just say the words; he guaranteed the outcome.
As owner and lifelong cattleman, I look forward to introducing you to the fool-proof cattle genetics that Seven Springs Cattle Company enjoys!