rancherfred wrote:"Heritage" breeds go along with organic, all natural and locally produced. For some reason there is a romantic attachment to nostalgia that precludes dispassionate thought and judgement. Things are not necessarily better because they belong to a previous time or generation. There are a lot of good reasons for what we do today and it is not immoral or wrong to produce beef as we are doing today. Those that would promote organic, or heritage breeds or any of the other things that are essentially a rejection of science and progress have a strong tendency to do it in terms of morality. I saw it called "virtue signalling" and I think that is a very apt description. The promoters of these production systems are essentially today's pharisees.
There are correct answers to your questions, but what you came here looking for are essentially opinions. I believe the data you are looking for would be MARC data and that is something you will have to do on your own. If you want to utilize a heritage breed because you are interested in their history or their novelty that is entirely up to you, but they are not inherently superior to other breeds by virtue of them being "heritage". Keep in mind that the reason that they are considered heritage is because a sufficiently large enough number of producers did not see any value in the breed to make them a very minor breed. That means that enough people judged them to be inferior so as to force them into a minority role.
You can make any decision you choose to here, but there are a few considerations that you ought to keep in mind. Breeding stock is going to be very difficult to come by. One thing you will quickly come to see is that a minor breed like the ones you have listed are going to be very difficult to find bulls that aren't related or by necessity highly inbred. Second, you should not expect to be paid more for your beef simply because they are a heritage breed. People like to say they will buy quality, and will pay more for it, but unless you have somehow managed to capture a high end market, they will only pay more up to a point. You are going to need to be paid a lot more for your product if you are going to pursue it with minority breeds. That will be very difficult to establish.
If you like the breeds simply because of the novelty well fine, but there is nothing inherently superior in them due to their "heritage" nature. You could do everything you are talking about doing with one of the major breeds, they just wouldn't be as novel. As to meat quality, look up the MARC data and start there.
There's a fair bit of good common sense information there. Instead of reading your animal science books, Id suggest figuring out what your overall marketing plan is. Then see what sells best in your area with that type of marketing plan.
Im going to be honest....organic, hormone free, non-gmo, etc are tag lines that crawl under my skin. If you have a market where you can sell heritage livestock, and be profitable....by all means go for it! I know a lot of young people that get nastolgic about what ever buzz word gives a warm and fuzzy feeling. If you bust your butt and don't make anything the warm and fuzzy feeling of organic disappears pretty quick. I like to have an open mind. I have read some blogs people write about say grass fed, organic, drug free etc. They say its just totally awesome. You will make money hand over fist...so on and so on. If you do this you peace will come to the middle east and Kum jung Eile (north korea....i cant spell) will die. The thing is these guys promoting these topics are also the ones selling breeding stock. Im guessing you your a Senior in HS, you have ran across a used car salesman or two.....same applies to this. Fads come and go. Look up artichokes or ostriches. Those are 2 of them that came through here. The people selling the seed or breeding stock made all the money. Ostriches were healty meat, sell the feathers & hides, etc etc etc. Well if flopped like a walrus!
Here is what Im saying. Your animal science book will say this about this breed and that about that breed. As mentioined above all of the "heritage" breeds have been here for at least 100 years. For various reasons they didn't pass the "sniff test". Im not saying that they don't have a place. Just for what ever reason they got bypassed. Black Angus and "others" got brought up. Angus has a vast selection of genetics. You can have grass fed to supreme feedlot preformance. There is a lot of advantages to the breed like calving vigor etc. Angus has done an awesome job of marketing, or a used car salesman. Other breeds do have advantages. Cross breeding does pay. I talked to a researcher at UNL about heterosis. He said, on your first cross or F1 you get 14# of extra gain at weaning over a straight bred. Now a 3 way cross, is a bigger gain in heterosis. You have to look at your marketing plan. For instance with me I use Hereford on Angus. I get a percentage of red white face calves, say 10%. Now in my area, if they aren't black you get docked. Also smaller groups don't sell as high as bigger. So I have to factor those negatives against the postives into my marketing plan. Cross bred cows will be in the heard longer so maternially if Im adding heifers I need to look at that. I still have to consider my marketing plan. I fully intended to buy a Hereford bull this year. Then after I learned Id only get an extra 14# and factored in the sorts/docks, I decided to stay black, since I had AIed Hereford for enough years to get replacement females. A guy up here was doing some "outside of the box" type stuff. He was needing to sell some scottish highlander calves. 2 sale barns turned him away. Black Angus has done a very good job of marketing. Im not saying that they are superior over all the other breeds. They are the easiest to market. Your banker does't care what has the best meat. He cares as to what will keep you out of debt!
I don't mean to bash your dream. By all means, Im not an all Angus type of guy. They are the most versitle breed with genetics that can fit into a lot of marketing programs. Also easier to change gears if you want to. You mentioned smaller frame. Say your wanting to do the grass fed thing. Then you decided its not working, you can more easily change direction of your heard than say you have an off the wall breed like Dexter. Especially if you chose to sell the cows and buy different cows. Say you buy a Tesla car. 2 years down the road your going to have a harder time finding a buyer that will pay close to what you have spent on your Tesla vs say a Chevy Impalla. Say you buy 10 Dexter heifers for $10,000. Say you change your mind 2 years down the road, right when these cows are in the prime of their life. They should of appreiated (gone up) in value. Your going to have a hard time finding someone willing to pay $1200 for them cows. Im not saying its imposable, just harder. You need to consider that. If you have a niche market where you can sell your product I wouldn't be scared of doing it. Just make sure you have a market. There is a reason the breeds your interested in didn't gain popularity. Some is marketing or following the crowd. Most of it isn't.