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At Shady Oaks Red Angus we strive to develop the type of genetics commercial cattlemen need in their programs to be successful. To do this, we have spent the last 30 years selecting for genetics that improve efficiency and profitability for the cow-calf rancher.

Our selection criterion takes into account desirable traits that cow-calf ranchers need to be successful:

  1. Calving ease – Unlike actual birth weight, calving ease is a very heritable trait. Many breeders, in both the Angus and Red Angus breed, have taken single trait selection for calving ease to the extreme and in the process have created a problem equally as harmful to cow-calf ranchers as the big birth weight problems they were trying to fix. A 50-pound calf has as tough a time getting going when it is -30 F as a 100+ pound calf after a hard pull out of a first calf heifer. We like to keep our calving ease scores between +4 and +9 and our birth weights between 70 and 90 pounds. Any more or less is completely unnecessary for the commercial cow-calf rancher.

  2. Disposition – Man killers, brush splitters, and sod pawers are not tolerated at our place and they shouldn’t be at your place either. A little woofiness in a cow with a new calf is ok, but putting you on the ankle express for a couple laps around the barn is not. This is a highly heritable trait and we cut’em deep on it.

  3. Frame – It is true that smaller cows will generally wean a larger percentage of their mature weight than a large cow. It is also true that steers in the feed yard will finish at roughly the mature weight of the parents. Therefore, it is important for the commercial cow-calf man to keep frame size under control so that the cow and her calf can be profitable for you and the next guy down the chain. We like to keep our frame size between 5.0 and 6.0 and mature cow weights between 1300 and 1400 lbs.

  4. Hardiness – In our environment, cattle with a little hardiness are the key to a successful cow outfit. Cows that can grow a calf, maintain their weight, and rebreed on roughage and sunshine are the type of cows that stay in our program. We don’t require a cow to keep a specific body condition; if she rebreeds she has enough condition.

  5. Feet and legs – One of the principle selection criteria for any seedstock outfit should be feet and legs. Selection for longevity in cows starts with getting a handle on genetic defects concerning feet and legs in bulls.

  6. Mothering ability – At Shady Oaks Red Angus, mothering ability is defined as the repeated ability of a female to have her calf unassisted, claim the calf, and willingness to protect her calf from predators.

  7. Growth – Calf growth from birth to weaning is one of the most critical components of profitability for cow-calf ranchers. Similarly, post-weaning growth is one of the most critical components of profitability for feedyards. Bull calves in our program must wean at a minimum average weight per day of age (WDA) of 2.75 lbs. per day and a minimum post-weaning average daily gain (ADG) of 3.0 lbs. to stay in the sale pen.

  8. Carcass – The beef industry has changed significantly in the last several years. In the past, commercial cow-calf ranchers did not concern themselves with carcass traits; “that’s somebody else’s problem” many have claimed. Today is a different story. Cattle that won’t grade at the packing plant are pretty much useless to feeders and packers because of the ease of importing cheaper ‘hamburger’ grade cattle from the South Pacific, Mexico and South America. Ranchers need genetics that will produce calves that will meet quality grade standards for export to high-end Asian markets. At Shady Oaks Red Angus we have worked to provide commercial cattlemen with genetics that will consistently add the carcass characteristics necessary to meet quality grade standards at the packing plant.

    • Intramuscular fat (marbling) – Intramuscular fat is a key component of the U.S. quality grade system used at packing plants across the country. The collective measurements of intramuscular fat of the beef carcass are called marbling; a characteristic highly correlated with the high standards of taste and cutability that U.S. beef is known for. We like bulls in our program to scan a minimum of 4 mm of intramuscular fat.

    • Ribeye area – Many seedstock producers have jumped on the carcass trait bandwagon in an effort to differentiate what they are doing from others. This is another area where single-trait selection by ‘trait-chaser’ breeding programs are going to cause big problems for the average cow-calf rancher. As the trait chasers breed for larger and larger ribeye area in cattle, the market is clearly asking for a more moderate ribeye that meets the needs of today’s beef consumer both domestically and abroad. Do you think your average 20-something in the U.S. or Asia (greater than 1/3 of the population in both regions) wants a 20-inch ribeye steak? Neither do we and the markets are clearly telling us they don’t. We will continue to select bulls with ribeye areas that scan between 13.5 and 16 square inches until the market tells us to do something different.


Only 30% of the bulls we produce each year
qualify to be sold as seedstock.
We focus on quality Red Angus genetics, not quantity.
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