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FRONTLINE beef producer

Feeder Calf Marketing


16 Health, Genetics Now Name and Address Age and Source Verification Adds Credibility to Calf Crop by Clifford Mitchell

FRONTLINE Beef Producer Commerical Marketing Director

Grant Keenen



Frances Miller

Contributing Editors

4 Out Front

IBBA Brangus’ OptimaxX Renewed by USDA for Another Year by Dr. Joseph Massey

6 Field Medicine

Are Your Bulls Fit for Service? by Soren Rodning, DVM, MS, DACT

Dr. Dave Anderson Dr. Mark Enns Dr. Matt Hersom Dr. Joseph Massey Clifford Mitchell Layout and Design

Duncan MacRae Copy Editor

Carolyn Kobos

8 Genetic Strategies The Value of Heterosis. by Mark Enns, PhD

10 Market Intelligence

Tighter Beef Supp;lies Struggle Against Weak Economy by Dr. Dave Anderson

12 Nutrition Strategies

Can We Allow a Calf to Have a Bad Day? by Dr. Matt Hersom

24 The Bottom Line Bull Power by Grant Keenen


Jim Bulger Operations

Mary Douglass Rosanne Sralla Patti Teeler

FRONTLINE Beef Producer is a product of:

Brangus Publications, Inc. P.O. Box 696020 San Antonio, Texas 78269-6020 Phone: 210.696.8231 Fax: 210.696.8718 Brangus Publications, Inc. Directors: Don Cox - Chairman Dr. Joseph Massey - President David Vaughan - Secretary/Treasurer Dale Kirkham Angelo Zottarelli Information appearing in this issue may be reprinted only with written permission of Brangus Publications, Inc.

LPC Livestock Publications Council - Member


OUT FRONT | by Dr. Joseph Massey

IBBA Brangus’ OptimaxX Age and Source Verification Program Renewed by USDA for another year


n July 31, 2009 USDA renewed the International Brangus Breeders Association’s source and age verification program, OptimaxX for another year. OptimaxX is one of several IBBA programs that commercial cattlemen can use with confidence knowing that this information and tracking program from our Association and our breed is reliable. IBBA recognizes that costs of production are increasing and the cost structures going forward will be different than they have been in the past. When our customers select a bull, they want to know what they can expect from that bull and with what degree of predictability.

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The commitment to provide this information must be made by our Association, our board and each of our members. The Association is working hard to develop marketing avenues for its programs; Brangus breeders know that their cattle yield and grade at similar percentages as any other breed of cattle, and have the advantage of built in hybrid vigor but we need to gain recognition and acceptability from commercial cattlemen. Source and age verification programs are increasing in the United States, and as the new Mandatory Country-Of-Origin Label- ABOUT THE AUTHOR ing law (MCOOL) is implemented, we will Dr. Massey has served as see more and more cattle raised on source Executive Vice President of the IBBA since 2004. In and age verification programs. As an Asso- 2007, he started Genetic ciation, IBBA recognizes that it must take Performance Solutions, LLC, a more active role in servicing customers of a breed registry services IBBA members. We must become the source and performance analysis of reliable information for these customers company serving the to make good, sound breeding and manage- cattle and breed association ment decisions. Looking forward, IBBA be- industry— a joint venture lieves that the OptimaxX program coupled between the IBBA and the Red Angus Association with DNA testing will have the potential to of America. GPS manages increase the premium. Now is the time to online registry programs for learn about the IBBA OptimaxX program breed associations and the and what it may do for your operation. IBBA data base management of is well on its way to doubling and maybe tri- performance data like multibreed EPDs. pling participation for the next year. Historically, breed associations have been the keepers of pedigree information for registered breeders, and over time, they have become the source of performance and genetic (DNA) information for their members. There is no doubt that in the future breed associations will have to take on a new role providing genetic DNA information and performance EPD data in a manner that has value to both the seedstock producer and the commercial cattleman. We are entering a new era of information. It is no longer good enough to have data available-- it must be easily accessible and meaningful. IBBA has made a commitment to continue to make its internet site more accessible to our commercial customer. We will continue to enhance the type of information that will be demanded by our commercial customers. IBBA recognizes that it must be as relevant to commercial customers as it is to our members. Look for IBBA to be a leader in providing genetic DNA information and multi-breed EPDs to our members and commercial customers as it becomes available. IBBA wants to become your first choice of information at a simple click of the mouse. Visit our web site at and look for the ongoing updates to our commercial orientated programs

FIELD MEDICINE | by Soren Rodning, DVM, MS, DACT

Are Your Bulls Fit for Service?


ailure to properly evaluate bulls prior to and during the breeding season can result in huge economic losses, yet performing bull breeding soundness evaluations is one of the most neglected reproductive management practices in cow-calf operations. A bull’s fertility can be considered fertile, sub-fertile, or sterile. Sub-fertile bulls may eventually get cows pregnant, but they will take much longer than fertile bulls to settle a group of cows. The result is that sub-fertile bulls produce calves that are born later, and are therefore younger and lighter at weaning. Sub-fertile bulls also produce fewer calves during a breeding season. In either situation, sub-fertile bulls produce fewer pounds of beef per exposed cow, affecting the economic profitability of a cow-calf operation. A bull breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) is a uniform method of assessing a bull’s likelihood of establishing pregnancy in an appropriate number of open, healthy, cycling cows or heifers in a defined breeding season. A bull BSE includes the following four components: 1. Physical exam Evaluates the physical characteristics of a bull necessary for mobility and athleticism in the pasture, structural soundness, overall internal

6 FRONTLINE Beef Producer

and external reproductive tract development, etc. 2. Scrotal circumference Evaluates testicular size and health, as well as estimating the bull’s sperm producing capacity. Bulls must meet minimum scrotal circumference measurements based on age in order to pass a BSE. 3. Sperm motility Ensures that the bull is producing sufficient numbers of live sperm. Bulls must have at least 30% motility to pass a BSE. ABOUT THE AUTHOR 4. Sperm morphology Dr. Soren Rodning is an Ensures that the bull is producing sperm Assistant Professor and that are properly shaped and capable of Extension Veterinarian fertilization. Bulls must produce at least in the Auburn University 70% normal sperm to pass a BSE. Department of Animal SciThe recommended minimum require- ences and the Alabama ments for scrotal circumference, sperm mo- Cooperative Extension tility, and sperm morphology are outlined by System. Current Extension efforts primarily the Society for Theriogenology. Additional involve promoting herd factors influencing the number of cows a bull health management for beef can breed in a season include pasture size and cattle. terrain, physical soundness, age of the bull, libido, number of bulls in the group, etc. Based on the results of the BSE a bull is then assigned to one of three classifications: 1. Satisfactory potential breeder (fertile) This classification indicates that the bull: • passed a physical exam • met the minimum requirements for scrotal circumference • has at least 30% sperm motility • produces at least 70% normal sperm 2. Unsatisfactory potential breeder (sub-fertile or sterile) The bull did not pass at least one of the four components of the BSE. 3. Deferred The bull did not pass at least one of the four components of the BSE due to a condition that may resolve with time. A “deferred” bull should be rechecked at a later date. A BSE does not evaluate a bull’s libido, nor does it ensure that a bull will remain a satisfactory potential breeder the entire breeding season. If a bull suffers injuries to his feet, legs, reproductive tract, etc., such an injury may render him incapable of breeding your cows. Therefore, it is still extremely important to observe your bulls regularly to ensure they are doing their job. A BSE also does not guarantee that bulls are free of infectious diseases, so consult with your veterinarian on what diagnostic tests may or may not be appropriate for your bull(s). The extra pounds of beef per exposed cow will more than pay for the BSE, so contact your veterinarian for a bull BSE prior to the next breeding season


The Value of Heterosis


ith all of the recent advancements in biotechnologies, expected progeny differences, molecular breeding values, and changes in the structure of the beef industry; we can easily overlook some of the easy ways to improve cow herd production. One of these oft-overlooked techniques is capitalizing on heterosis.

Heterosis is the amount by which crossbred animals deviate in performance from the average performance of their parental breeds. For instance, assume that in a particular environment or on a particular ranch an average purebred Angus calf will weigh 497 lbs at weaning and an average Brahman calf will weigh 524 lbs at weaning. If we crossed Angus and Brahman cattle from those two groups, we would expect (without heterosis) to get a 511 lb calf—the average of the parental breeds. Instead we get a 531 pound calf—that increase in weight from the average of the parental breeds is due to heterosis and represents about a 4% increase in calf production (31 lbs). So what else does heterosis do to improve performance? If you look at individual heterosis, that is heterosis due to the individual being crossbred, we see improvements in a number of traits. Age of puberty of female calves, survival at birth and weaning, weaning weight, yearling weight, carcass weight, rib-eye area, days on feed and feed conversion all improve from 2 to 5%. While these may seem relatively small on an individual

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basis, these improvements accumulate over time. For you skeptics, the downside is that there tends to be about 4% heterosis for increased birth weight and 1% for increased cow mature weight as well. Having a crossbred cow and thereby capitalizing on maternal heterosis increases performance of other traits as well. On average we see 6 to 8% heterosis for improvement in calving and weaning rate and another 6% for weaning weight if the dam of a calf is crossbred. A crossbred cow will increase birth weight by 6%, a potential downside, but general estimates of changes in calving difficulty ABOUT THE AUTHOR show no increase in incidence of calving dif- Dr. Enns’ research focuses on methods to genetically ficulty. evaluate and select For perhaps a better picture, if we com- animals that fit their bine individual and maternal heterosis into production environment total heterosis, there is an 18% increase in both biologically and calf weaning weight per cow exposed (captur- economically. These efforts ing both growth and fertility) and an increase include development of of 25% in cow lifetime productivity. This is new methods for evaluating all good and fine, but what is the economic and improving cow and heifer fertility, cow impact? While there are relatively few studies maintenance requirements, evaluating this, the ones that do exist show time to finish in the feedlot; a considerable increase in returns with aver- and development of age F1 cows (first cross cows) returning $70 methods to better use more per cow per year than average economic information in straightbred cows. Another report selection decisions for showed the best crossbreeding sys- increased profitability of tems return $76 per cow per year. beef production. These studies all used production costs and values from the 1990s, but no matter they still represent a substantial increase in returns. The values above are all relative to a first cross individual, such a calf resulting from the crossing of a Brahman and an Angus or a Hereford and a Brangus. Typically mating systems that try to maintain first cross levels of heterosis are relatively complicated and suffer from the need to source purebred females to generate the first cross individuals. To overcome this weakness, one of the more popular options has been to use composites such as Brangus. While these systems do not capture all of the first cross heterosis they are considerably easier to implement and maintain and still yield considerable increases in performance. Good crossbreeding systems additionally allow breeders to better match cattle to their production environment by capitalizing on the strengths of different breeds. Simply put, heterosis gives us cattle with more growth, greater fertility, and longer lifespans—all of which have a strong influence on profitability— and with little downside

MARKET INTELLIGENCE | by Dr. David Anderson

Tighter Beef Supplies Struggle Against Weak Economy


he struggling economy has continued to pressure beef prices even though supplies have been tightening. A couple of years of declining beef cow inventory is starting to take its toll on beef production. But, the overall economy has kept prices from increasing. Compared to the events of the Fall of 2008, this year may have some important differences that could lead to better calf and cattle prices.

So What’s Different This Year?

Looking back to this time in 2008, feed costs had skyrocketed and were starting to decline. Corn approached $8 per bushel to Panhandle feedlots, fueled by weather fears and speculative pressures. The financial and economic meltdown hit in September and October sending the country into a severe recession. Part of the economic crisis was a freeze-up in lending that affected agriculture as well. By Fall, after many months of losses brought on by high feed costs, many potential calf buyers had run out of money. That combined with the lack of demand for calves to go to wheat pasture, forced calf prices sharply lower late in the year. The last months of 2009 may be very different than last year because conditions are different. It appears that some stabilization in the economy may be beginning. While the economy has not grown back to the levels before the collapse, there is at least an end to the sharp declines in GDP. Beef demand has been hurt by the poor economy. Demand is affected by several things including, the price of beef that affects the quantity

consumers buy, the price of other substitutes like pork and chicken, changing tastes and preferences that can be driven by new diets like the Atkins diet or health concerns, and income. The shrinking economy, increases in savings, and more unemployment indicate falling incomes and changing spending patterns. It is this effect of income that has led to some weaker demand for many goods, not just beef. Getting the economy back on track may have a sharply positive effect on beef demand and prices. It appears that a large corn crop may be coming as more acres than expected were about the author planted and, overall, those acres may have Dr. Anderson is a Professor and Livestock Economist the potential for record yields. The crop is a with the Texas AgriLife little late and could use a later than normal Extension Service at Texas freeze to get to its potential, but at least that A&M University. His work potential is there. The result has been cash involves livestock market corn prices in the Southern Plains just over and policy research. $3.00 per bushel. That is about $2.00 per bushel lower than last year, but still historically high. The decline in feed costs has been a big boost to cattle feeders and has helped generate a little boost in feeder cattle prices. This year also brought fewer cows and fewer calves. Tighter supplies of calves coupled with improving potential demand for calves to go to winter pastures and feedlots sets the stage for better prices late this year than last year. Comparing the events of 2008 with 2009 provides some hope for a better end to 2009.

Will Supplies Continue to Tighten?

Beef cow numbers have declined due to several severe droughts and financial losses for many producers. Central and South Texas remain in a severe drought. The drought stricken area was home to about 2 million beef cows in the latest inventory report. That is equivalent to about 6 per-

Continued on page 22 10 FRONTLINE Beef Producer


Can We Allow a Calf to Have a Bad Day?


ecently much discussion has been dedicated to the management of calves prior to entering feedlots and finishing programs. There is an increasing volume of dogma that says we should never let a calf have a “bad day�. If a calf has a bad day anytime during the growing period, the subsequent feedlot growth performance and carcass quality will be negatively affected. Specifically, if a calf is nutritionally restricted at some point prior to the finishing period, then the marbling deposition will be adversely affected compared to if the calf was not ever restricted. Unfortunately, much of the work that is used to support this supposition is incorrectly compared and confounding factors are ignored. Some of these confounding factors include limit feeding high energy diets, breeds types (specifically dairy), early weaning, and implant regimen. This discussion will offer an alternative to the pervasive dogma and show that calves can be limited in gain and/or nutritional status during a defined production period and still perform to producer and industry standards.

What Constitutes a Bad Day?

Some of the most cited data indicating that a calf should never have a bad day is the Texas A&M Ranch to Rail data. A summary of this data indicates that sick cattle have greater death loss, 14% less average daily gain (ADG), greater Select and less Choice carcasses, and decreased net returns (McNeill, 2001). Likewise, Gardner et al. (1999) reported an association between lung lesions and decreased ADG and quality grades when cattle were harvested. These lung lesions likely developed prior to placement into the feedlot and had long-term implications on calf performance during finishing. Certainly, we never want to see cattle get sick prior to placement into the feedlot or during the finishing period because there are definitive

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negative outcomes associated with morbidity in the feedlot. Management practices including adequate cow nutrition, comprehensive cow-herd health programs, and calf-hood vaccination programs are positive steps to avoid the negative outcome associated with calf sickness. However, neither the Texas Ranch to Rail nor Gardner et al. (1999) indicate that prior nutrition (aside from poor overall cow herd nutrition as it relates to immunity and health) has negative effects on ABOUT THE AUTHOR feedlot performance or carcass quality. Dr. Hersom is currently From a nutritional stand-point, a bad an Assistant Professor day could be construed as a limitation in dry and Extension Beef Cattle matter intake (DMI), dietary crude protein Specialist at the University (CP), or dietary energy intake. In many cas- of Florida, specializing in the development of es, the limitation could be any combination strategic nutritional and or all of the previously mentioned for any supplementation programs amount of time. In many of our beef produc- to optimize beef cattle tion systems, cattle do go through some limi- performance utilizing tation associated with DMI, CP, energy, or a forage and roughage based combination. Some of the common produc- diets and evaluation of calf tion systems that would fall in this category production and growing include: crop residue grazing, winter grazing practices to improve animal performance in integrated on native ranges, limited availability of winbeef production systems. ter annuals, or program feeding of mixed rations. All of these production systems have been and continue to be incorporated into current beef production systems successfully. Often the utilization of these nutritionally limiting systems is then followed by the expectation of compensatory growth in the subsequent feeding period, particularly feedlot finishing. However, compensatory growth is a finicky phenomenon that cannot always be counted on to occur. Generally, compensatory growth by cattle is defined as 1) increased rate of ADG; 2) more efficient rate of body weight gain; and 3) reduced maintenance energy requirements during the realimentation period (adequate nutrition period). The occurrence of compensatory growth and the overall response to restriction is highly variable. The compensatory growth response of cattle consuming roughage-based diets appears to depend on the genetic gain potential of the cattle. The growth potential of a steer with adequate nutritional intake will cause the ADG to be such that final BW of normal and realimented steers will be similar given adequate opportunity for gain. In general, most studies report an increase in ADG, DMI, and ADG:DMI during the early compensatory period and a number of studies report increased ADG of compensating animals during the entire realimentation period. The most variable response was DMI, in that some studies did not report significant differences in DMI between normal and compensating animals. One general observation was that the degree of compensation during realimentation was inversely related to the severity of the previous nutrient restriction.

Treatment Item




Two-year Mean Winter grazing ADG, lb/d




Initial feedlot live BW, lb




Final feedlot live BW, lb




Days on feed




Feed DMI, lb/d




ADG, lb/d








Hot carcass weight, lb




Dressing percent




Backfat, in




KPH, %




Ribeye area, in2




Marbling score




Yield grade




Table 1. Effect of winter grazing treatment on feedlot performance and carcass characteristics. (Adapted from Hersom et al. (2004). HGW = High gain wheat; LGW = Low gain wheat; NR = Native range.

End-Point Comparison

The single largest misconception or fallacy in the discussion of allowing growing calves to have nutritionally poor days is the final end-point comparison. The largest issue is comparing cattle at different final endpoint. Often the end-point comparison utilized to support the dogma that a lower plane of nutrition is detrimental is to compare cattle after a total number or common number of days on feed. The comparison comes about by handling one group of cattle in a “normal manner” that is moved through the growing-finishing program quickly; conversely the other group of cattle is managed in a more extensive, nutritionally challenging program until finishing. The extensively produced group of calves is then finished for the same number of days as the normal group. When compared, the extensive managed group always performs inadequately compared to the normal group. Well of course! If the extensive group is allowed less time on the high-energy diet (which drives adequate feedlot and carcass performance) those calves will not perform as well as the normal cattle. Upon critical consideration most people would say that we don’t market cattle based solely on days on feed, but rather cattle in feedlots are usually fed to a predetermined estimated back fat. Feeding to a set final backfat is an attempt to provide the majority of the cattle the opportunity to reach the quality grade that is desired (Choice, High-Select, etc.) Therefore, to make valid comparisons between two different groups of cattle, all cattle need to be taken to the same physiological end-point, not day of age or days on feed.

Effect of Feed Restriction on Growth and Carcass Performance

A period of grazing is often incorporated into production systems for beef cattle. However, the effects of season and weather have large effects on quantity and quality of available forage. Grazing restrictions include DMI, energy, and (or) CP intake, which will reduce animal performance. However, when previously restricted cattle are refed they exhibit compensatory growth. Seasonal patterns of forage growth result in variations in forage availability and forage nutritive value and this greatly influences cattle performance. Much has been made of the importance of getting cattle exposed to high-energy diets early in life to facilitate greater carcass quality through increased marbling. Several production methods are available to accomplish the exposure to high-energy diets or feedstuffs. The methods include

Figure 1. Steer live body weight during winter grazing and the subsequent feedlot period (Adapted from Hersom et al., 2004).

creep-feeding, early weaning, or high-energy growing programs. University of Illinois data (Wertz et al., 2001) examined the opportunity of early weaning to affect performance and carcass characteristics. One experiment utilized early weaned calves and placed them on endophyte-infected fescue pasture, a 90% concentrate diet, or a 25% concentrate diet during the growing period, then finished the calves to common final backfat endpoint. Early weaned calves placed on endophyte-infected fescue could be considered to be in a nutritionally challenged. Pastured calves were older and heavier entering and leaving the feedlot, and had greater ADG, DMI, but lower gain efficiency. Carcass weight, ribeye area, KPH, and yield grade were greater for pastured calves compared to calves that were started on concentrate diets. Sainz et al. (1995) utilized a 75%- high-concentrate diet fed ad libitum or limit-fed and a 96% hay-roughage diet (restriction of energy intake) fed ad libitum to steers that created three treatments to examine compensatory growth. During the subsequent finishing phase all steers were fed the same concentrate diet. Steers that were previously limit-fed had the greatest ADG followed by the roughage-fed steers and then ad libitum-fed steers (4.23 > 3.83 > 2.69 lb/d, respectively). Restricted treatments had greater DMI and gain efficiency than ad libitum fed steers. Subsequent analysis determined that previously limit-fed steers had the lowest estimated maintenance energy requirements, whereas the roughage-fed steers had increased maintenance energy requirement compared with steers fed the concentrate diet ad libitum. At the final harvest, after ad libitum intake of Continued on page 20

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FEATURE | by Clifford Mitchell

Health, Genetics Now Name and Address Age and source verification adds credibility to calf crop


echnology has definitely changed over the years, almost to the point where some wonder who’s watching who. Look on many prominent Internet web sites and you can find a satellite picture of the home place. Cell phones, for obvious reasons, now come equipped with locators to help parents know if children are where they’re supposed to be. Most grew up in generation where name, phone number and address were tools to stay out of trouble. Military personnel are given serial numbers to track movements or identify deceased. All the technological improvements just shed light on how far the beef industry is behind. Most calves leave the ranch without knowing name and address. There’s no serial number or unique identification, unless commercial operators choose to follow the growing trend of age and source verification. These same commercial cow/calf men have adapted to different programs concerning health and genetics, but have failed to identify the potential of this concept. “I think age and source verification is part of the evolution of where we’re headed in the beef industry. Several producers are missing the boat because they already do everything right, but for some reason won’t finish the job,” says Dan Dorn, Decatur County Feed Yard, Oberlin, Kansas. Producers know the value of good genetics and a solid health program; however, an exact dollar figure for age and source verification is a little harder to pinpoint. Adding marketability and credibility to a calf crop may be the chief indicator of future worth. “There is extra value in age and source verified cattle. Even for a producer who is selling smaller groups. Commercial operators have to identify value and know their costs. Age and source verified gives instant credibility in the marketplace,” says Mark Harmon, Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri. The marketing system is cluttered with programs that promise producers certain levels of value if the proper management protocol is followed. The population of age and source verified cattle is on the rise because harvest premiums demand this animal. “We handle seven or eight different programs when we market cattle through the value-added sales. We know producers are following the guidelines of the different programs because they have been issued program compliant tags for their calf crop,” Harmon says. “Age and source verification gives us five or six more avenues to market cattle. Potential buyers are thinking about the premiums they’ll receive at harvest for those cattle. When producers can incorporate historical carcass data with this, it’s a lot easier to sell these calves.” “Age and source is market driven. Exports, to primarily Japan and Korea, have been driving the demand for this product,” Dorn says. “I think premiums for age and source verified cattle will be here for years to come. Hopefully, as more people identify this potential premium and we grow

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the supply of age and source verified cattle, demand will also increase.” The information trail associated with age and source verified calves throws up a red flag and causes apprehension for some producers. Most cow/calf operators are good managers and do things right; however, the failure to pay attention to detail often leaves unclaimed profit for these highly skilled specialists. “Cattlemen, who are intimidated by the process, may never try to take advantage ABOUT THE AUTHOR of age and source verified. Most people are Clifford Mitchell is a second doing it anyway and the costs are minimal generation cattleman who compared to some management tools used currently owns and operates to add value,” Dorn says. “All producers have Elkhorn Creek, a freelance to do to establish age and source verification communications business in is to give each calf a unique ID; it can be a Guthrie, Oklahoma. Upon brand, electronic identification or a simple graduation from Oklahoma State University he began a dangle tag, and record the birth date of the career in communications, first and last calf born on the place. Without starting as a field reporter. unique ID, how can we follow genetics all the Mitchell currently writes way through harvest? In our QSA system, the for a wide range of beef only people who see this data; are myself, the publications. office manager and the USDA auditor who verifies the data.” “More cattlemen are adding age and source to the calf crop as another management tool to avoid discounts at the marketplace. Whether you have a large or a small group, bring the best product to town that you possibly can,” Harmon says. “Good producers are going to do whatever possible to make their calves worth more. They have a lot of time and money invested in genetics and good management.” Today, figures like cost of production and other relevant expense factors have producers double checking the books to make sure every effort has been made to return as many dollars per cow to the ranch as possible. Some producers still avoid the task of record keeping or giving calves a unique ID. Others feel the opportunity costs are too great not to take advantage of age and source verification. “If you do all the work to wean them and give them two rounds of shots, take advantage of the premium opportunity age and source verified brings. Today, if I am selling calves, they’re going to have all the “bells and whistles,” Harmon says. “If you are already doing everything else what’s the real cost of a $3.50 tag? If you get two cents a pound more for your 700 pound steer that’s $14, with margins as tight as they are today, that’s a pretty good profit.” “Most producers always say we’re not getting paid for our work. In our system, the best way to capture the age and source premium is to retain ownership,” Dorn says. “The system is not a total trickle down effort at this time. To capture age and source premiums, through retained ownership, producers have to be willing to assume some, if not all, of the risk. Producers who do everything right can see the harvest premium for age and

source verified cattle. Sometimes this premium is as high as $50 per head and lately, that premium could be the difference between profit and loss.” Producers have many options to get involved with age and source verified programs. According to Dorn, these options can provide stability and market flexibility. “Our QSA program is where we deal direct with our customers to audit their age and source verified cattle. Those cattle are retained through the feeding process at Decatur County,” Dorn says. “You can get involved with many different programs and a lot of breed associations will sell commercial bull customers a tag identifying those calves with a known genetic background. These programs offer a lot of flexibility and can be marketed through the system or retained through harvest.” “Through our PVP, once producers get verified through our process and apply the tags, that tag proves those calves are age and source verified,”

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Harmon says. “We keep the records and when we sell a large or a small group to a buyer, before I transfer any data, I make them read the tag numbers and send me a spreadsheet from the feedyard, backgrounder or next owner. Transferring the information is a relatively easy process, once I know that calf is in their possession.” Society is changing, putting more pressure on America’s farmers and ranchers to produce a specific type of product. Knowing where products come from is a big part of the buying philosophy. “Most of us, on the ranch or who own cattle, eat beef out of our deep freeze. Get away from the ranch and the “green machine” is running,” Harmon says. “Weekly grocery shopping trips with my wife are very educational. Ranchers are going to have to start telling their story. Age and source verification could be a good start.” “Export markets are the only ones taking advantage of this product right now. They want a safe wholesome product that is under 21 months of age,” Dorn says. “As consumer demands for locally grown and raised products continue to increase, hopefully, they will be willing to pay us to raise these products. As producers, we still have a problem telling consumers what product they are going to eat. The market will tell us what kind of products consumers want and we’ll have to produce it.” Has the time come where the beef industry is at a crossroads? According to most, those words may be a little drastic for the current situation. The marketplace is changing, hopefully, one day a true pull through economic process that pays for value up and down the chain will exist. Today, producers must look at the challenges they face. See what advancement in technology is bringing to the world. The old-fashioned piece of paper that used to be in back packs, pencil boxes and sometimes even sewn on the insides of clothes identifying name, address and phone number for school children may seem out of date, but it’s still relevant. Age and source verification may not promise “criminal” dividends, but just like that old standby, it could help bring your profit home safely. “Most people are good managers and could easily age and source verify calves. Some may already be doing it, but don’t follow up with a unique ID or keep accurate records,” Dorn says. “Ninety five percent of the cattle we feed are retained ownership or partnership cattle. These cattle are all age and source verified because it pays. Age and source verification is rapidly becoming just as important as health and genetics from a value standpoint.” “No question, age and source verification helps our marketing efforts. Those harvest premiums, received by our buyers, are trickling down a little, although the system is not perfect. The market has to step out and establish what these calves are worth,” Harmon says. “Health, genetics and the time that you sell them has a lot to do with value. In the future, all the “bells and whistles” along with the ability to validate management practices will make a difference at the marketplace. Most importantly, commercial operators have to understand the value of a good product and what it’s worth.”


Continued from page 14.

the high-concentrate diet, all treatments had similar carcass qualities with the exception of forage fed steers having slightly smaller ribeye areas. Work by Phillips et al. (1991) examined the effect of pre-weaning grazing pressure and stocker system on feedlot finishing and carcass characteristics of Brahman crossbred calves. Across three years, pre-weaning management did not affect subsequent performance during the receiving period, stocker phase, or feedlot phase. Likewise, stocker treatment of grazing wheat pasture or tallgrass native range had no effect on carcass characteristics or DMI. Wheat-pasture calves started the finishing period 72 lb heavier coming off the high-quality forage, whereas native range calves were 10% more efficient during finishing. Ridenour et al. (1982) utilized high-concentrate diet, 50% concentrate diets fed to a defined BW, or grazed wheat pasture to a defined BW as growing system programs prior

to finishing. Despite differences in growing period ADG and differences in feedlot ADG as a result of the growing period, carcass characteristics were only slightly greater for steers fed the high-concentrate diet for dressing percent, KPH, and ribeye area. The close similarity of the carcass characteristic of the steers in these programs occurred because all steers were finished to a common backfat end point. Hersom et al. (2004) best examined the effect of growing period BW gain on subsequent finishing performance and carcass characteristics. Three grazing regimes were implemented during the growing phase: grazing winter wheat pasture to achieve high (2.65 lb/d) or low (1.34 lb/d) rate if BW gain, or grazing dormant native range (0.33 lb/d). Steers grazed for 120 or 144 days in two years. Figure 1 demonstrates the pattern of BW gain during both the grazing and feedlot phase. Steers were finished to the same final backfat end point, but days on feed differed among the three treatments. The steers entered the feedlot at very different BW and body compositional points. However, feedlot performance and carcass characteristics did not differ among the three treatments (Table 1), because the steers were fed to the same compositional endpoint. However, the absence of difference in finishing performance was not entirely expected, current industry dogma would have predicted decreased performance for the fleshy high gain wheat steers and compensatory gain for the low gain wheat and native range steers. This data would indicate that price discounts for the heavier feeder cattle coming off wheat pasture would not have been justified in relation to their subsequent finishing performance, likewise price premiums for the lighter BW calves would not likely have been warranted.


When cattle of different production systems are compared at equal backfat endpoints, backgrounding system or previous nutrition generally has little effect on most important carcass characteristics particularly quality grade. Systems that incorporate nutritional restrictions may be appropriate for some cattle in defined production systems. Nutritional restrictions slow cattle growth during a defined period of time or take advantage of low-cost low-input feedstuffs. The decreased growth rate results in cattle that are often chronologically older at final harvest. Older cattle during the finishing period can be less efficient, may have decreased tenderness, and have limited export potential. The key is to make sure that any cattle that have been restricted nutritionally have the opportunity to recover that growth opportunity. Ultimately, the cattle type needs to be matched to the entire production system

Sources Cited

Gardner et al. 1999. J. Anim. Sci. 77:3168-3175. Hersom et al. 2004. J. Anim. Sci. 82:262-272. McNeill. 2001. rangebeefcowsymp/79 Phillips et al. 1991. J. Anim. Sci. 69:3102-3111. Ridenour et al. 1982. J. Anim. Sci. 54:1115-1119. Sainz et al. 1995. J. Anim. Sci. 73:2971-2979. Wertz et al. 2001. J. Anim. Sci. 79:1660-1669. 20 FRONTLINE Beef Producer


Continued from page 10.

cent of nation’s beef cow herd. More culling has been forced this summer in those areas. Calf prices are below year ago and below an average price of the last 5 years, using Southern Plains steer calf prices as a reference point. Lower calf prices and higher costs should be expected to continue hold back herd expansion. Huge financial losses in the dairy industry will continue to force herd liquidation for the rest of the year. The end result is that there will probably be fewer cows in 2010 than in 2009 and beef production will continue to decline for the next couple of years.

What About Prices?

Fewer cow numbers may lead to historically high cow prices in 2010. Fewer calves and stabilizing demand should lead to increasing calf prices in 2010 also. The combination of better calf prices and drought breaking rain should also lead to better replacement prices as producers nationwide look to rebuild their herds. Any serious expansion may be more than a year away, depending on profits and grass. Given the biology of cattle production, reduced beef supplies are already built into the system for a couple of years. Throw in a better economy and the stage is set for a rising beef cattle price cycle

Move Your Business to the FRONT of the LINE. Advertising in FRONTLINE Beef Producer gets your message out to 20,000 potential customers. Upcoming Issues: Nov 2009 (Cow Efficiency) Jan 2010 (Carcass Merit) Call the BPI Office today at 210.696.8231 to highlight your products and services in FRONTLINE Beef Producer. 22 FRONTLINE Beef Producer

THE BOTTOM LINE | by Grant Keenen

Bull Power


ummer finds us all very busy. Some folks are putting in long days in the hay field while others are spending their time, and money, feeding hay. The latter being something a person should not be doing this time of year. The drought in the Southwest is extremely severe and my prayers for rain and thoughts of hope go out to our members, customers and all the farmers and ranchers in these stricken areas. As we move into late summer and early fall, bull sales are just around the corner. Before long we will be listening to the cries of auctioneers and the hollers of those ring-men we all love as they turn in our bids. Yes, the time is coming soon when people should be thinking about their breeding decisions and the bull power they will need for the upcoming breeding seasons. One of the most significant management practices a cow-calf producer can control firsthand is the bull selection for his operation. We all know that a bull will have a direct impact on each calf he sires. Therefore, producers need to make their selections based on their program goals. For example, some programs market their calves at weaning or right off of the cow, while others retain ownership through the feeding process. Some operations are strictly terminal while others retain or market heifers as replacements. Particular traits, EPD’s and performance data are viewed differently by these diverse producers. But one thing remains constant; each bull will still affect 100% of the calves he sires, either positively or negatively. Commercial cow-calf producers have many choices when selecting bulls to service their cow-herd. They must decide between different breeds and the various seed stock operations within each breed. Producers must

24 FRONTLINE Beef Producer

also decide on the age of the bulls they wish to purchase. Then, and probably most importantly, they must make deci- ABOUT THE AUTHOR sions based on their goals by using the vari- Grant Keenen is the Director ous tools available for comparing animals as of Commerical Marketing we already mentioned. As a person can see, Programs for the Internait is not as easy as just going down to the old tional Brangus Breeders sale barn and buying a bull. At least not for Association. For more informarion about IBBA the producer wishing to make money and Commerical Programs, conbetter his or her operation. tact Grant at 210.696.8231 Therefore, a producer should evaluate or email grant@int-brangis. which factors influence his bottom line in org. terms of calf revenue: • Is it strictly pounds of calf off of the cow? • Is it the carcass quality? • Is it the quality of the replacement female? • Or, is it the marketing ability of the calves raised? Whether you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then the answer for your bull selection needs is BRANGUS.

Pounds Off of the Cow

Brangus, being a composite breed automatically puts heterosis, or hybrid vigor into your calf crop. This simply means more pounds or “more bang for your buck.” Numerous studies have been done showing average gains of 50-75 pounds per calf at weaning when using Brangus bulls versus Angus and other breeds. Every producer, no matter his marketing strategy Continued on page 30



To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

FLORIDA To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

ARKANSAS To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

FRONTLINE Beef Producer 25

GEORGIA To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

26 FRONTLINE Beef Producer



To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231



To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

NORTH CAROLINA To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231



To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

TEXAS To place your ad in the State Directory, please call the BPI Office at 210.696.8231

FRONTLINE Beef Producer 27

28 FRONTLINE Beef Producer


Continued from page 24.

wants more pounds at weaning. So, why not use Brangus? I sure can’t think of a reason not to use Brangus.

Carcass Quality

Brangus influenced feeder cattle have proven ability to quality grade and yield grade. Research also proves that these cattle have some of the highest tenderness percentages in the industry. Now more than ever, with the choice-select spread being so minimal, it is a great opportunity to take advantage of Brangus’ known tenderness which supplies a consistent product whether choice or select. That is something our competitors cannot do! Couple the Brangus influenced feeder calf ’s beef tenderness score, its ability to grade and yield, and its feeding efficiency, the resulting product increases the bottom line of any operation.

Replacement Female Quality

Longevity! Productivity! Mothering Ability! Adaptability! Efficiency! What else does a person need? The quality of the replacement Brangus

influenced female is unsurpassed. The Brangus type female’s longevity allows her to stay in the herd longer, directly influencing your bottom line. She will raise more pounds of calf every year; pounds pay. The Brangus female can adapt to any environment and thrive no matter the circumstances. Knee deep grass or drought country she will survive, raise a calf and breed back easier than other breeds. And the mothering ability…she has definitely got it. When you look at the quality of the Brangus replacement female, it looks like an easy decision to choose Brangus for your bull power needs.

Marketing Ability

Brangus influenced feeder calves and replacement females have great marketing ability. The IBBA is one of only three breeds to offer a USDA approved Age and Source Verification (ASV) Process Verified Program (PVP). OptimaxX is available to any cow-calf producer that can verify age, source and at least 50% IBBA Brangus parentage. This PVP allows market access into national ASV programs which helps the producer reap premiums for his age, source and genetic verified feeder cattle.

FRONTLINE Beef Producer 29

SERVICES Tommy Barnes - Auctioneer -

P.O. Box 8 • Galion, AL 36742 email:

Ph. 334/289-7001 Fax: 334/289-7000 Mobile: 334/462-4004

Lakin Oakley Auctioneer

7081 Highway 82 West DeKalb, Texas 75559 903/667-3251 Home 903/277-9610 Mobile

Embryo Transfer • Estrus Synchronization Programs Complete Reproductive Services • InVitro Fertilization Toll Free: 866-4EMBRYO P.O. Box 3038 • Bryan, TX 77805 979/731-1043 • Fax: 979/731-1086


Continued from page 29.

The program for the Brangus influenced replacement female is Brangus Gold which ensures source and 50% IBBA Brangus parentage. No imitations allowed. These females will be ahead of the rest of the herd by providing known source and genetic makeup. Buyer can purchase with confidence and know something about what they are buying. The IBBA’s commercial marketing programs are just two more great reasons to choose Brangus for your bull needs. As you can see, there are many advantages to using Brangus bulls for the bull power you need. And each of those reasons is a factor that directly impacts a producer’s bottom line. Each cow-calf producer should take some time and identify his goals before buying his next herd bull. In these times it is of most importance to be efficient, productive and marketable. Choose the bulls that best fit your program based on those goals and

30 FRONTLINE Beef Producer

management criteria by using the tools available such as EPD’s, carcass data and performance data. Carefully examine your operation and then see how Brangus can help meet your goals. As the Director of Commercial Marketing Programs for the IBBA, it is my job to help commercial producers reach their goals and increase their bottom line. I am here to assist you and help in any way I can. And I look forward to working with each of you in the future




5K Cowbelle Ranch



ABS Global, Inc.



Circle X Land and Cattle Co., Ltd.



Coldwater Cattle Co.



Cox Excalibur Red Brangus



Circle RP Ranch


Doguet’s Diamond D Ranch



7, 11




Hill Country Sale





Indian Hills Ranch




Mound Creek Ranches


Oak Creek Farms



Perry Ranch




Salacoa Valley Farms



Southern Cattle Company





Triangle K Farm



Triple JR Cattle Company



Zottarelli Ranches






Southern Annual Fall Bull Sale, Marianna, FL


Dry Creek Ranch Complete Herd Dispersal, Industry, TX


Mound Creek Ranch Bull & Commercial Female Sale, Leona, TX


La Copa Ranch Complete Herd Dispersal, Rockdale, TX



IBBA Summit, Oklahoma City, OK


Chimney Rock Cattle Co. Sale, Concord, AR


Salacoa Valley Farms Performance Tested Bull Sale, Calhoun, GA


Annual Hill Country Brangus Sale, San Angelo, TX


Char-No Farms Production Sale, WIlliamson, GA


Indian Nation Brangus Sale, Okmulgee, TX

October • 2009


Florida Brangus Bull Sale, Webster, FL


MO Brangus & Oak Knoll Blac Bull Sale, Arcadia, FL


Perry Ranch Brangus Bull & Female Sale, Pauls Valley OK


Cow Creek Ranch Select Female & Bull Sale, Aliceville, AL


Camp Cooley Annual Production Sale, Franklin, TX


Cox Excalibur CX Advantage Red Brangus Sale, Katy, TX


TBBA Female & Bull Sale, West, TX


World Brangus Congress



Doguet's Diamond D Ranch Annual Bull & Female Sale, Poteet, TX


NRCA Genetic Advantage Annual Bull & Female Sale


Coldwater Cattle Company Female & Bull Sale, Holly Springs, MS


Cavender’s Neches River Ranch Sale, Jacksonville, TX


Don Thomas & Sons Cadillac of Brangus Sale, Madison, MO


61st Annual Arizona National Livestock Show, Phoenix, AZ


Oak Creek Farms Forage Tested Bull Sale, Chappell Hill, TX

FRONTLINE Beef Producer 31

FRONTLINE beef producer

Move Your Business to the FRONT of the LINE. Advertising in FRONTLINE Beef Producer gets your message out to 20,000 potential customers.

ISSUE FOCUS Cow Efficiency & Industry Trends



November 15 2009

October 20 2009

Call the BPI Office today at 210.696.8231 to highlight your products and services in FRONTLINE Beef Producer.

FRONTLINE Beef Producer September 2009  

FRONTLINE Beef Producer September 2009