US breeders import UK beef semen to lower costs

US beef producers are importing semen from Whitebred Shorthorn cattle in an attempt to overcome higher oil and grain prices.

Semen from one of the UK's rarest and oldest beef breeds is being brought in by US breeders because of its claimed ability to use forage efficiently.

The medium-sized Whitebred Shorthorn breed can finish efficiently on a forage-only diet and the  double-hair coat allows them to cope with colder temperatures.

Oregon beef producer Keith Nafziger plans to breed all his multiple UK breeds with the semen at his farm near Hillsboro, analysing how each performs with the cross.

According to Nafziger: "The Whitebred Shorthorn is a non-selective grazer and will eat plants that other beef breeds will not.

"It is an early maturing, easy finishing and high-quality milk-producing breed – the last trait mentioned being desperately important to producing high-quality, grass-fed and finished beef."

"We hope to land some embryos this year and to establish a pure-bred herd that will serve as a dual-purpose animal, producing high-quality, grass-fed milk for cheese-making and beef finishing.

"We also hope to be able to establish enough genetic lines here in the US that we have a self-sustaining base. We envisage eventually selling cows and bulls to grass-only producers across the US.

"The American market has developed a taste for grass-fed beef, milk and cheese. The existing producers are having a hard time keeping up with demand. The Whitebred Shorthorn should be an invaluable addition to this retooling of the American beef and dairy industry," he added.

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