Information sharing | The association wants to ignite interest in the breed and encourage performance and carcass information sharing
The Canadian Limousin Association is taking a long view of its future as it attempts to revive a breed that was imported more than 40 years ago for its carcass quality.
The breed has been overshadowed in some respects by the success of the Angus beef marketing campaign, which the association is trying to counter by sharing information and renewing interest in cattle capable of yielding high percentages of lean meat.
“The time is right and I think we see a lot of signals in Canada in beef production where the old ways are not going to lead us into the future,” association president Bill Campbell said Dec. 10 following a focus group.
“New things need to happen with co-operation. We are seeing concerns with consumption. We are seeing concerns with health issues, with food safety. It is in everybody’s interest if we can address everything and have everybody profitable in the chain so the supplier supplies a safe, reliable product.”
Two focus groups in Ontario and Alberta drew members from the purebred, cow-calf, feedlot and processing sectors, who learned they are not that far apart in how they want to see the beef industry proceed.
“It’s time in the industry that we share information,” Campbell said.
Seed stock producers supply bulls to the commercial industry, but they need to know what those customers want and where improvements can be made for the benefit of the beef industry.
“We are a component of the beef industry,” he said.
“We have as much to offer or more than any other beef breed to the production of beef. We can add a lean, healthy desirable product in a balanced approach.”
Limousin cattle can yield 63 to 67 percent, and Campbell said infusing Limousin genetics into the national beef herd could benefit the entire industry.
“We are seeing alarming trends where yields of less than 59.9 percent are increasing,” he said.
Campbell has 130 purebred cows on his mixed farm near Minto, Man., and plans to infuse fullblood genetics into the herd to return to the basics of what Limousin was when it first came from France more than 40 years ago. He was sold on the breed when his family fed them and the Limousin cattle outperformed the rest at the feedlot.
He now backgrounds them to 900 pounds and then sends them to a client who feeds for Norwich Packers in Ontario.
The company actively looks for this type of cattle because the client base is looking for lean meat that is processed to different standards.
“Ontario is a better place to feed Limousin type cattle for a premium,” he said.
Participants in the Calgary focus meeting discussed the trend toward black cattle but agreed the time is coming when beef buyers will go beyond colour and emphasize red meat quality and yield.
The meeting was part of a national strategy to rebuild the breed.
“If we could capitalize on the next buzz, we could get the target for demand for a leaner beef and its nutritional value,” said association manager Anne Brunet- Burgess.
“We are not going to have a branded beef program as such because we can’t. The resources aren’t there, but if we could have some recognition for a different type of meat, that would be good.”
The association also wants to find the Limousin influenced calves and determine how they perform from birth to plate.
“We all know there are Limousin calves out there, but no one knows they are Limos,” said Campbell.
The breed is participating in the bovine genome bull project and sees genomics as the future way to select for certain performance traits.
Producers are also encouraged to submit more performance and carcass information through the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s Beef Information System to build a database.
They are asked to submit their Canadian cattle identification numbers to the Limousin association for a birth to plate database.
Producers could ultimately see how they compare with other producers and how the cattle perform at various stages of their life. Information would remain confidential.