It seems very popular to be green these days. 

You see articles on how to live more green. Car and appliance retailers run adds boasting about being greener than their competitors. I even saw an add that claimed to have the greenest eggs. They weren't talking color; they were all claiming to conserve natural resources. Whether it was fuel, electricity, or feed, they claimed to do more and go farther on less. 

Then I thought "I have green beef." But that doesn't sound very appetizing so let's just call it Blue beef. That is what i raise; Blue beef or sometimes called Belgian Blue beef.

So, how can I say my cattle are more environmentally friendly or that they can produce more with less input?  Well here goes, I have to admit there isn't a lot of hard research that has been done here in the United States. I have put a few of my blue cross bulls on feed trials. In the six years that they where in a pen with just blues, that pen had the highest feed efficiency on the bull test. For the 120-day test, my feed costs where $70-plus less than the average for the rest of the test which did include some bulls that could be as much as six months older.

I also remember a good-selling pen of bulls that averaged $200 a head more to feed for the 120 days than mine. I developed a theory, since genetically my cattle produce a very limited amount of fat and fat has twice as many calories as protein, it has to take regular cattle more energy to put on all that extra fat on. So point number one, blues seem to have higher feed efficiency and use less natural resources.

Secondly, blues are noted for their hyper-muscular growth. This allows the blues to stack a lot of weight or meat on the rail where regular cattle put 55- to 65- percent of their live weight on the rail, blues can yield 68-75 percent on the rail. Then there is their percent trim or how much of their hanging weight is considered waste. In a USDA meat animal research center test done in the 1990's comparing Angus and Blues, the Angus had 66 pounds more waste per half or side of beef. With the Blues increased yield on the rail, this gave the Blues 100 pounds more retail product per side.

Recently, when two of my calves were processed at Yoder Meats, I was told they yielded 75 and 77 percent of their carcass weight in retail product. Regular cattle typically are in the 40 - 55 percent range.

So, high feed efficiency, high yield and high cut-ability, that should equal green; well let us just say Blue beef.

 

Steve Kinser lives on a ranch near Hugoton where he raises Belgian Blue cattle. 

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