Weight gain and behavior of Raramuri Criollo versus crossbred steers developed on Chihuahuan Desert rangeland

TitleWeight gain and behavior of Raramuri Criollo versus crossbred steers developed on Chihuahuan Desert rangeland
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMcIntosh MM, Cibils AF, Estell RE, Soto-Navarro S., Gonzalez AL, Nyamuryekung'e S., Spiegal S.
Conference Name70th Annual Society for Range Management Meeting
Date Published01/2017
PublisherSociety for Range Management
Conference LocationSaint George, Utah
ARIS Log Number336586

Ranchers that raise Raramuri Criollo (RC) cattle must overcome the challenge of lack of markets for weaned calves.  Growing and finishing RC or RC-crossbred steers on rangeland pastures is increasingly common; however, no data exist on their weight gains or grazing behavior.  We tracked the weight and behavior of four groups of steers in the Chihuahuan Desert to understand the viability of this production approach. Nineteen 8-month steers (eleven RC, RC-8, and eight Brangus×Criollo, BRCR-8) and nineteen 17-month steers (ten RC, RC-17; nine Waguli×Criollo, WACR-17) were weighed every 60 days between 12/2015 and 10/2016 to determine individual body weight (WT), average daily gain (ADG), and body condition score (BCS). In addition, we used Lotek 3300 GPS collars to monitor location (at 5-minute intervals) of five RC-17 and five WACR-17 individuals in 12/2015.  Influence of breed on WT, ADG, BCS and behavior was analyzed using repeated measures mixed ANOVA treating steers as experimental units. Separate comparisons were conducted within each age group.  Crossbreds were heavier than their RC counterparts at the beginning of the study and WT differences in both groups persisted throughout (P<0.01).  ADG of RC-17 and WACR-17 were not detectably different, however BRCR-8 steers showed higher ADG than their RC-8 counterparts (P < 0.014). BCS of crossbreds was significantly higher than that of RC steers in both age groups throughout (P< 0.01).  Overall, RC-8, BRCR-8, RC-17, and WACR-17 gained on average 158, 203, 166, and 156 lb head-1 11 months-1, respectively.  Daily distance traveled by WACR-17 and RC-17 did not differ, however WACR-17 walked farther during nighttime hours (P <0.01) and followed less sinuous movement trajectories (P<0.01) than their RC-17 counterparts. Although WT gains at a younger age were improved by crossbreeding RC with Brangus, further research is needed to determine performance of older BRCR and younger WACR crossbreeds.