Selecting the Best Livestock Breeds for your Grass Fed Beef Operation

NJ Landowner Blogs | 2024



When implementing a pasture-based livestock management program for grass fed beef
production, selecting the right livestock breeds is an important consideration. Some breeds are
better suited to grazing and can thrive on a grass-based diet, while others may be more adapted
to confinement systems and may not do as well in a pasture-based system. Here are some tips
for selecting appropriate livestock breeds:

1. Consider the climate: It is important to choose livestock breeds that are well-suited to
the local climate. For example, breeds that are well-adapted to hot, dry conditions may
not do as well in a humid, temperate climate.

2. Look for breeds that are well-adapted to grazing: Some breeds are more prone to
grazing and can thrive on a grass-based diet, while others may prefer a grain-based diet.
Breeds that are well-suited to grazing include Angus, Hereford, and Shorthorn cattle, as
well as Katahdin and Dorper sheep.

3. Consider the size of the pasture: The size of the pasture will determine how many
animals you can sustainably graze. Choose breeds that are appropriate for the size of
the pasture and that will not overgraze or damage the grassland. With proper pasture
rotation, the carrying capacity of the fields will increase overtime.

4. Consider the type of grassland: Different types of grassland may support different
breeds. For example, some breeds may do better on heavily wooded pastureland, while
others may prefer more open grassland.

5. Consider the type of animal product: If you are planning to produce a specific animal
product, such as meat or milk, choose breeds that are known for producing those high-
quality products.

6. Consider the animal’s reproductive rate: Choose breeds that have a high
reproductive rate, as this can help to ensure that the pasture-based system is
sustainable in the long term.

7. Consider the animal’s feed conversion efficiency: Some breeds are more efficient at
converting feed to growth or milk production than others. Choosing breeds that are
efficient at feed conversion can help to reduce feed costs and improve the sustainability
of the pasture-based system.

8. Consider the animal’s disease resistance: Some breeds are more resistant to certain
diseases than others. Choosing breeds that are resistant to common livestock diseases
can help to reduce the need for antibiotics and other veterinary interventions.

9. Consider the animal’s temperament: Some breeds are more docile and easier to
handle than others. Choosing breeds with a calm temperament can make the
management of the pasture-based system easier and safer. If children or other guests
are planned to be on the farm, be especially careful to choose animals that relate well to

10. Consider the animal’s adaptability: Choose breeds that are adaptable and able to
thrive in a pasture-based system, rather than those that are more adapted to
confinement systems. This can help to ensure that the animals are healthy and
productive in the pasture-based environment.

By carefully considering these factors and choosing appropriate livestock breeds, farmers can
set the stage for a successful pasture-based livestock management program that is both
sustainable and effective. Be sure to check that there are adequate USDA inspected processing
facilities in your region before growing your herd. Pinto Consulting can help you with these

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