In the United States, Corriente cattle are usually not thought of as beef animals. If we sell our used roping cattle into the beef market pipeline, they will bring considerably less than similar weight cattle of the common beef breeds. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the reality is that our cattle do not fit within the parameters used to feed and market these beef breeds. This translates into a lower margin of profit for the feeder, therefore they will pay less for the animal on the front end.
Value added marketing is a means by which producers can get a greater return for their product. Branded beef programs are one example of value added marketing that has proved to be beneficial for many of the traditional beef breeders. Participating in a branded beef program required the producer to operate within certain specified requirements as determined by that particular brand. A premium is then paid above market price. With the proliferation and success of these programs, the way has been paved for us to take advantage of the unique qualities of corriente beef. With a branded program specifically for Corriente cattle, we would be able to market our cattle apart from the mainstream, and would therefore increase our return.
In 1999, the Cattleman’ s Texas Longhorn Registry led a study to determine the feasibility of a branded beef cooperative for cattle of Spanish descent. This started at ground level with a feeding trial, subsequent carcass characteristics evaluation, chemical analysis, cholesterol and fatty acid analysis, sensory and tenderness evaluations. The results were compared with two brands of beef available to the consumer, Certified Angus Beef (CAB),and Goldstar (GS). The trials were conducted by non-biased parties at New Mexico State University, West Texas A & M, and Clemson University.
Conclusions of these studies indicated that Spanish descent cattle can finish appropriately in a feedlot setting and can produce lean, choice-grading carcasses. The steaks tested:
1) were as tender or more tender than CAB
2) compared favorably with CAB for aroma desirability, flavor desirability and intensity
3) were lower in total fat (about one half the total fat of CAB)
4) were lower than CAB in saturated fatty acids and were higher in unsaturated fatty acids
5) were higher than CAB in crude protein.
The research is completed, and the results are available for us to use. We have a product that is perfect for our healthy, humane and environmentally conscious consumers, and as Corriente breeders we need to take advantage of this market. Already, some of our members are having great success selling beef to the consumer on the local level. Whether we sell it one package at a time, or through a branded beef marketing vehicle, this will eventually help producers at all levels. As demand for the product increases we will see higher salvage values for used roping cattle, which will in turn make our fresh cattle and breeding stock more valuable. So even if you can’t retain ownership of your roping cattle, you should eventually realize the benefits of promoting Corriente beef.