Shorthorn breeders, Red Angus breeders and progressive cattlemen throughout North America can now look to the American Shorthorn Association (ASA) for a composite breeding strategy that will capitalize on breed complementarily, heterosis and F1 seedstock to fit a variety of management systems. The new Durham Red Program will capitalize on the exclusive use of two great breeds--Shorthorn and Red Angus. As the only 100-percent British-breed composite, a first in the industry, Durham Reds will have no Continental breed influence, thus they won't sacrifice quality grade or maternal ability.

"Just as hybrid or composite seedstock production now dominates the pork and poultry industries, and is a growing trend in beef production, the new Durham Red Program will highlight the genetic benefits of two standard bearers," says Barry Jordan, an Indiana Shorthorn breeder and chairman of the ASA Commercial Marketing Committee. "Biologically the two breeds compliment each other with Shorthorn adding growth, efficient gain, leanness, and docility, while Red Angus contribute low birth weight and fleshing ability." The Red Angus influence will also open many avenues to Angus-based feeder calf, grid-merchandising, and beef programs.

In addition to the breeding benefits derived from crossing these two breed greats, the performance information that will be created will add genetic punch to those looking for data-backed animals for their breeding programs. "The industry can now depend on the ASA as an alternate source for data-backed genetics," says Nick Hammett, ASA director of commercial marketing and genetic improvement. "Before a Durham Red is registered, performance information will be required. Then, Shorthorn and Red Angus EPDs will be incorporated into the analysis of all Durham Reds." This multi-breed EPD analysis will add value to Durham Reds and offer cattlemen more direction in their breeding programs.

The Durham Red Program allows for the introduction of Shorthorn genetics to the commercial cattle industry via a hybrid with superior benefits. "This innovative breeding program will further establish Shorthorn genetics in America's cowherd," says Ron Bolze, ASA executive secretary. "In part, this program was created to capitalize on the composite trend and to sell more Shorthorns. Once commercial cattlemen witness the benefits of Shorthorn genetics, they'll likely realize more Shorthorn is better." Additionally, by utilizing the Shorthorn registry, the Appendix Registry Program, and now the Durham Red Program, Shorthorn breeders can maintain Shorthorn influence in all their seedstock offerings.

Composition and pedigree specifications

A Durham Red will be produced by using either a registered Shorthorn, an animal recorded with the Red Angus Association of America, or by using a registered Durham Red to obtain a particular percentage. The breed composition will consist of no less than 25 percent Shorthorn blood and up to 75 percent Shorthorn blood, with the remainder coming from the Red Angus base. Breeders can strive for either more Shorthorn parentage or more Red Angus parentage, utilizing a multitude of crossbreeding strategies to optimize characteristics from either breed.

While the same cross could be achieved under the appendix program already in place at the ASA, the Durham Red Program will differ as performance reporting is mandatory. Data required includes birth weight, calving ease score, weaning weight, yearling weight, and yearling scrotal circumference. Only after receiving this data will an official Durham Red registration certificate be issued by the ASA.

The first Durham Reds will be recorded this fall. Look for them to become a legitimate force in the seedstock industry and ask for them by name--Durham Red.

The American Shorthorn Association, headquartered in Omaha, Neb., was founded in 1872 with herd book records going back to 1822. As one of the oldest American breed associations, the ASA provides services for more than 6,000 junior and senior members who register more than 20,000 cattle annually. To learn more, contact the office or visit www.shorthorn.org.

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