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New Showmanship Judge for 2017 JBBA National Show

The previously scheduled judge for showmanship classes at the 2017 JBBA National Show had to cancel due to unforeseen schedule changes and the new 2017 JBBA National Show showmanship judge is Dr. David Roper of Tarleton State University.

Dr. David Roper currently serves as the Judging Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor within the Department of Animal Science & Vet Technology at Tarleton State University (TSU). Prior to arriving at TSU in September 2016, David served as the Virginia State Extension Livestock Specialist where he had the opportunity to coach the 2015 National Champion 4-H Livestock Judging team as well as manage several state wide youth events. He and his wife, Jennifer, and three boys (Ty, Kase, and Lane) now reside in Gorman, Texas. They are actively making preparations for the start of their youth show careers and look forward to being in the ring soon.

David received his Bachelors in Animal Science from Texas A&M University (TAMU) in 2005. While at TAMU he was a member of the 2003 Meats Judging Team & a National Champion Livestock Judging Team in 2004. He then briefly worked for Ultimate Genetics before returning to Graduate School at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. There he received both his Master’s and PhD in Animal Science with a focus on Bovine Embryo Transfer techniques. Additionally, while in Graduate School, he served as the Livestock Judging Team Coach for eight years.

David enjoys evaluating livestock of all species and working with youth exhibitors across the nation. He has had the opportunity to judge in multiple states across the South, Southeast and Eastern United States.

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Numbers Don’t Lie: The Epley Philosophy

Raising cattle is not for the faint of heart, and this is especially true in the harsh brush country of South Texas. There are years of extreme heat and drought, so only the toughest cattle and the toughest people can survive. Rancho Tres Hijos is tucked deep in the brush just outside of Tilden, Texas and this ranch has not only survived in years of extreme drought but has thrived under the ownership of Arthur “Bub” and Nancy Epley.

The Epleys have been raising Beefmaster cattle on Rancho Tres Hijos since 1996. Over the past twenty years of being in the Beefmaster business, the Epleys have become well known for their dedication to breeding solid, performance-based cattle, while also being large contributors to the Beefmaster breed and Beefmaster Educational Endowment Foundation (B.E.E.F.).

Bub Epley grew up in Magnolia, Ark., and he currently resides in Houston, Texas with his wife Nancy. When the couple is not in Houston with their grandchildren, they are found at the ranch with their cattle. After purchasing the ranch in 1995, the Epleys soon enlisted help from their close friend Jim Wells to get started in the cattle business.

“Jim suggested that we purchase Beefmasters, so we bought our first heifers from Fred Brauchle, one of the legends in the Beefmaster breed,” said Bub Epley.

During their first three years in the cattle business the Epleys were able to pick out the best heifers from Fred Brauchle’s herd. These cattle became the foundation of the Rancho Tres Hijos herd over twenty years ago and today the ranch is home to 100 Beefmaster cows spread out over 3,000 acres.

Since those early days of purchasing heifers until today, the Epleys have admired the numerous traits that Beefmaster cattle offer. However, the most important trait to Bub and Nancy is the docility and gentle nature of the cattle.

“They are very gentle and docile and easy to handle. They aren’t dangerous and that has made it very nice for my family to enjoy,” says Bub. “We also love the growth of the cattle.”

The gentle nature of the cattle in the pasture and in the chute made it an easy decision to start utilizing artificial insemination (A.I.) in breeding practices at the ranch. The Epleys have been using A.I., on their heifers and cows since 1998. They A.I. about 85-90% of their cows and then turn the cows out with one of their four clean up bulls.

“We think A.I., is the least expensive way to bring diversity and improve the quality of your herd,” says Bub. “We have been able to significantly alter and improve our EPDs through utilizing A.I.”.

The Epleys are always focused on success and implementing herd management practices that ensure profitable and production-oriented cows. The first step to that success is artificial insemination and the second step to success is collecting weights. Birth weights and weaning weights have been collected at Rancho Tres Hijos since the Epleys started in the cattle business.

“After a few years of hauling cattle to be weighed, we invested in a scale because it became a pain to haul the cattle every time we needed weights measured. I encourage everyone to purchase a cattle scale,” says Epley.

The use of A.I., and the collection of weights has enabled Rancho Tres Hijos to be a top performance Beefmaster breeder. According to Executive Vice President Bill Pendergrass, the Epleys have some of the strongest EPDs in the breed. These strong and accurate EPDs can be attributed to the Epleys’ dedication to collecting weights on all their cattle, as well as collecting ultrasound data. The third step in the Epley success began almost ten years ago when they began using ultrasound technology to measure ribeye area, rump fat, rib fat and percentage of intramuscular fat (marbling).

“Ultrasound confirms what your eyes see,” says Epley.

Epley uses ultrasound data along with EPD data to determine the performance of the cattle and decide which cattle to sell. The data not only helps with breeding decisions, but it also makes the cattle more marketable when selling to commercial cattlemen or other Beefmaster breeders.

“It is a great tool when deciding which animals to sell and which animals to keep for breeding.”

Mr. Epley is a firm believer that the more ultrasound measurements and more EPD data we have as a breed makes our cattle more marketable. “Hard data is hard to argue against,” says Epley.

The combination of artificial insemination, ultrasound data and weight collection has allowed the Epleys to develop an outstanding operation that is performance based, numbers based and quality based. This performance data that is collected on the Epley ranch is an important tool when also comes time to make culling decisions. The fourth step in the Epley success story is harsh culling practices.

“I cull 50% of my bulls and 10% of my heifers every year. We cull at weaning time and we cull at yearling time,” says Epley.

Every year the Epleys, along with the guidance of retired BBU field representative John Newborn, cull their cattle and they attribute a lot of their success to their harsh culling practices.

“We cull pretty hard to ensure we raise the best genetics.”

This combination of harsh culling, collecting weights, ultrasound scanning and utilizing artificial insemination has put Rancho Tres Hijos’ cattle at the top of the breed. While the cattle are at the top of the breed, the Epleys are also at the top with their involvement in the association. Bub Epley has served in various volunteer roles within Beefmaster Breeders United and is currently on the South Texas Beefmaster Breeders Association board of directors. Previous positions include Live Oak Beefmaster Breeders Association board member, BBU board member, chairman of the international committee for three years and a member of several different committees. The list is long for Epley involvement.

“Getting involved in BBU helps us learn and provides great opportunity to become friends with other Beefmaster breeders,” says Epley. “It is fun to get involved”.

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The Power of Genomics and Technology

 

By Bill Pendergrass, Executive Vice President

Genetic improvement in the beef industry is moving at warp speed. The recent Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) meetings at Athens, Ga., were truly eye opening. BIF is composed of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat Animal Research Center researchers, breed associations, animal scientists from every major animal science university in North America, beef extension specialists, bull studs and individual progressive commercial cattlemen. The mission of BIF is to share research among these various groups and establish guidelines for collecting and evaluating performance data for the purpose of making genetic improvement and improving profitability for the beef industry.

The slow process of genetic improvement has been amped up thanks to technology. For decades, the only tool cattlemen had to gauge genetic progress was simply scoring or evaluating the visual or phenotypic traits. In the 1960-1970 era, the first significant technology was implemented to help cattlemen improve performance…scales. Since cattle are still sold by the pound, tracking weights was and still is the most basic measurement anyone can collect. With the advent of scales, ranchers could see a clear difference between animals because heavier and faster growing calves make more money.

The second piece of technology employed to great effect in the 1960-1970 era was Artificial Insemination (AI). After identifying the heavier and faster growing genetics, the bull studs successfully marketed semen of these sires and a literal genetic explosion occurred. AI has been and will be forever linked to genetic improvement in all species of livestock. Through AI, any breeder has access to the greatest sires in any given breed. Bulls that you would never be able to afford outright can be used for a fraction of the cost of owning them. Now AI has morphed into its own reproductive technologies such as, ET and IVF, and this basic premise is what drives the seedstock industry. Identify the genetics that grow the fastest and mass produce them.

In the same time frame as affordable scales and reproductive technologies were becoming more common, BIF provided guidance to the beef industry in formulating and standardizing basic performance measurements like weaning weight adjustments, contemporary grouping and many other performance guidelines. This unifying factor of creating a common language for the beef industry set the stage for a steady stream of powerful genetic selection tools that are in effect “stackable”.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) were the first attempt at applying population genetics on the beef industry. These were the forerunner to Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) and were based on ratios to predict the genetic performance of animals for a few basic traits such as birth weights and weaning weights. While better than nothing, EBVs were calculated on a relatively small database without sufficient computing power to run the complex formulas required by Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP).

In the late 1980s, EPDs burst onto the scene. Powered by supercomputers and BLUP, for the first time geneticists were able to harness enough computing power to make accurate genetic predictions. The era of computer power was finally unleashed upon the beef industry.

With the addition of EPDs, genetic progress literally skyrocketed. The “stackable” technologies of scales (individual animal weights), reproductive technologies (AI, ET, Cloning, IVF and sexed semen), ultrasound carcass data and EPDs allowed ranchers to make huge improvements in every trait that EPDs are computed for. Ranchers had figured out that if they collect enough data, they could select for specific traits and make rapid genetic progress using EPDs.

The beef industry is heavily invested in EPDs. Since the late 1980s, EPDs have evolved into the universal language of the beef industry. Our tax dollars (in the form of the Agricultural Extension Service) have been used for decades to help educate cattlemen about EPDs and how to use them. If you have ever attended a cattlemen’s meeting, I guarantee you that have sat in an educational workshop about EPDs. What began as basic EPDs for birth weight and weaning weight has evolved into milk, carcass and ultrasound carcass EPDs. Simply put, EPDs are the most effective selection tool to be developed so far.

In the early 2010s, the next piece of stackable technology came along…genomics. Harnessing the power of DNA and including it in genetic evaluations has allowed explosive genetic improvement for all species, including humans. Genomics began with and is still dominated by human applications. If doctors understand the genetics of a disease they can build more effective treatments. For livestock, the end point is food production, so the way we use genomics is slightly different. We use it to identify genetics that have better performance, carcass quality and are more profitable from an economic standpoint.

When DNA was added to EPDs, for the first time ever, geneticists were able to greatly increase the accuracies of EPDs on young animals. This allows breeders to “turn generations” faster by using high accuracy young animals. Breeders are now able to mate young, non-parent animals whose accuracy values are improved by DNA technology. This is in effect an insurance policy that the progeny of these young animals will perform at the levels their EPDs indicate. The power of genomics upon the beef industry cannot be understated. Genomics is the most powerful tool Beefmasters have ever had. Our challenge lies in adapting the DNA technology into how to more effectively promote crossbreeding.

The latest block of “stackable technology” (trust me there will be more to come) are selection indices such as $T and $M. An index is a formula that balances relevant EPDs and includes real world economic values, such as annual cow maintenance costs or the Choice/Select spread to arrive at a $ prediction. Perhaps the most important aspect of an index is that is helps breeders avoid the unintended consequences of single trait selection.

Indices are easily the most effective selection tool because they factor real world costs/premiums into one simple, accurate and easy to use/understand number. Simply put, you don’t have to know the breed average for five separate EPDs to compare animals. You can look at the appropriate index, knowing that it balances the correct EPDs and includes realistic economic values. Some have said that the economic values used in indices are incorrect. While at BIF, I attended a workshop about this very topic. They provided a research project example in the workshop to show how immensely accurate indices are in the beef industry.

In the example, the project’s purpose was to assess the accuracy of a particular index developed by the Angus breed. A group of Angus breeders and the genomics company Zoetis conducted a very thorough real world trial on $B. They purchased purebred embryos that would be in the top 25% and bottom 25% respectively for their terminal index. The embryos were transferred, calved out (yielding 43 calves) and the calves managed identically on pasture, backgrounded on wheat, finished in a commercial feedyard and harvested in four separate groups. The index said there was an average of $185/head difference in the final value of the cattle. The actual value was $215/head. This proves conclusively that selection indices are highly accurate and that they work. It is obvious that buyers recognize how accurate indices are because they are becoming the most used selection tool in the industry.

I am in no way suggesting that Beefmasters bail off into single trait carcass selection. Instead we must position ourselves as the leaders of the cow efficiency movement in the beef industry. Under the guidance of Dr. Matt Spangler, Beefmaster Breeders United has developed one of the best maternal selection indices available in the beef industry, $M. Your breed improvement committee is evaluating additional data collection points that will make $M even more powerful for our customers. At the end of the day, if Beefmasters can position $M the way our competition has positioned their terminal index, the demand and value of Beefmaster genetics will be assured.

Having said this, I can’t stress enough that our cattle must still be eye appealing and sound. Numbers will never replace the eye of the experienced stockman. However, an experienced stockman armed with the stackable technologies described above will produce more valuable, profitable genetics for his customers.

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Improve Carcass Merit In Your Herd

 

By Bill Pendergrass, Executive Vice President

By the time you read this, everyone will have learned that President Trump has closed a trade deal with China that will re-open their market to U.S. beef. The U.S. has been blocked out of the Chinese market since the infamous. “cow that stole Christmas” in 2003. The positive repercussions of the Chinese market opening is great for all U.S. cattlemen.

Over the past several months the U.S. market has been steadily building again. All classes of cattle, especially replacement females, have been increasing in value. Some of this is because of herd rebuilding in the southern plains and Midwest. What I think we will be seeing over the next few months is a robU.S.t market for feeder cattle, finished cattle and replacement females. This is because once we begin shipping product to China demand will increase across all classes of cattle.

Since news of this trade deal began to trickle out weeks ago, prices for USDA Choice carcasses have taken major jumps. As I write this article, the Choice-Select spread is up to $20. On an 850-lb. carcass that is a difference of $203. On a pen of 100 steers that would be $20,300. As recently as late March the Choice-Select spread was at $9. Why this major price increase?

First, China is reopening to U.S. and secondly, we are going into summer grilling season. Both of these events are driven by the same thing, high marbling and great tasting beef. Consumers, both in the United States and China (and almost everywhere else), are willing to pay more for beef with more marbling. That is what sets U.S. beef apart from the rest of the world. The U.S. was the first beef grading system in the world to account for Quality Grade (marbling) and Yield Grade (lean cutability). Simply put, the emphasis on marbling is what makes U.S. beef the most expensive and sought after product in the world protein market.

So why am I talking about carcass value, marbling and international export markets? Simple. As a Beefmaster breeder you are directly affected by these issues. True, we are a maternal breed (I happen to think that we are the greatest maternal breed out there), but at the end of the day all of our genetics will end up in the food chain. It is vital for you as Beefmaster breeders to do your part to improve carcass merit in your herd. I’m not telling you to single trait select for IMF. However, I am telling you that it is time to pay attention to the carcass merit in your cattle and make turns to improve it.

Step one is to begin collecting ultrasound carcass data on your replacement females and bulls. Refer to the BBU website and you will find some great information about ultrasound. Many larger breeders are planning “scan days”, where breeders can bring their cattle to a central location and have them scanned by reputable ultrasound technicians. I want to compliment Melvin Scherer, President of the Live Oak satellite, for planning and promoting his recent scan day. Hopefully, you attended and brought cattle to be scanned.

Step two is paying attention to the ultrasound EPDs and individual scans as you purchase new genetics to bring into your herd and mate your cows. Carcass traits are moderately heritable and they can be improved quickly, if you select for them. The fastest way to improve carcass merit is to use the ultrasound EPDs for IMF and REA. This past year BBU made carcass selection even easier with the introduction of $T, our terminal index. $T combines growth EPDs, ultrasound carcass EPDs and real world carcass pricing data to give you one simple number that reflects feedyard and carcass merit and puts in $form. By Using $T and balancing it with $M, our maternal index, you can maintain maternal excellence AND improve carcass merit in your herd.

Traditionally, when the Choice-Select spread widens such as it is doing now, we see bull buyers lean heavily into carcass rich genetics. The reason is simple, these terminal genetics are worth more to the packer who passes along premiums to the feeder, who in turns passes them to the order buyers who show up at your local sale barn, who in turn pay more for what they perceive to be superior feeder and harvest cattle.

Our challenge is to keep improving our carcass merit, so as to alleviate feeder calf discounts while at the same time put out an effective message that the maternal merit of Beefmasters will make the cow calf operator more money over time. This is why the beef cow efficiency argument is so important to Beefmasters and the entire industry. When the Choice-Select spread was $9 there was much more emphasis on maternal traits and rebuilding our commercial cowherd. The current $20 Choice-Select spread de-emphasizes our maternal message. This is why we mU.S.t maintain our maternal excellence and serioU.S.ly begin improving carcass merit.

Shifting gears slightly, last month Beefmasters got great news from a piece of research conducted by the USDA Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. In an 18-breed feed efficiency comparison study, Beefmasters made a statement. The study compared the 18 breeds for individual feed intake, compared to the individual weight gained, using very sophisticated equipment (that is very similar to the Growsafe LLC equipment used by several of our breeders). When the breeds were compared for average daily gain (ADG), using this methodology, Beefmasters were ranked #2 for steers and #2 for heifers across all 18 breeds. Incidentally, the other breeds that slightly outranked U.S. in the gender categories, did not retain their #1 rankings across gender. In other words, the #1 steer category breed didn’t rank in the top five for heifers and the #1 heifer category didn’t rank in the top five for steers. Beefmasters were the most consistent in their efficiency.

This study proves what we have known for a long time, Beefmasters are efficient. We also have a very valuable set of grid enhancing, value drivers other than marbling. Beefmasters consistently have higher dressing percentages and better yield grades. Until the recent $20 Choice-Select spread, this combination was actually adding more value to carcasses than Quality Grade or marbling. On the “live side” Beefmaster sired steers are healthier, fewer health pulls in the feedyard and death loss usually at least 1 percent lower than yard averages. This, combined with the documented feed efficiency advantages, is a super message. The Beefmaster combination of better feed efficiency, stronger immune systems, higher dressing percentages and lower yield grades are a perfect counterbalance to the less efficient cattle dominating the daily kill.

At the end of the day, for Beefmasters it all comes down to crossbreeding. We know our genetics will improve the maternal attributes of the nation’s Angus-dominated cowherd. We also have a great, value adding terminal message that BBU will be developing over the next few months to compliment the fantastic Choice-Select spread we are seeing. We live in exciting times.

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Beefmasters on the Road: In Georgia and Panamá

 

By Lance Bauer, Field Representative

The past couple of weeks have been full of travel. I have gone from Athens, Ga. for the Beef Improvement Federation conference and to David, Chiriqui, Panamá for Feria De La Carne Bovina (Cattlemen’s Convention). In Athens, there were academics, as well as producers, represented and many informative presentations were presented about the future of the cattle industry in the United States. It was very evident from these presentations that we need to produce more efficient and maternal cattle. There was also a big push to use crossbreeding and take advantage of hybrid vigor. I believe that all three of these topics are strengths of the Beefmaster and make us a viable option for producers.

In Panamá, I visited the government operated experiment station called Instituto de Investigación Agropecuaria de Panamá (IDIAP) and learned about their crossbreeding projects. They have recently incorporated Beefmasters into this project and are very pleased with the results. IDIAP eventually wants to have a maternal line, based on the Beefmaster breed. I visited with Roderick of IDIAP and he told me that across Panamá people are buying Beefmaster and Beefmaster-cross cows because they have seen how well they perform in the tropical environment of Panamá. To conclude my trip, I presented at Feria De La Carne Bovina about Beefmaster cattle and hybrid vigor, which generated several good questions from the audience. I was interviewed for a television program where I also spoke about how Beefmaster could be beneficial in Panamá. It was a good trip and I believe it is the beginning of more demand for Beefmaster genetics in Panamá.

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Sweet Home Alabama Sale Report

Sweet Home Alabama Sale

Cullman, AL 5-27-17

 

2 Bulls $6,500 avg $3,250

7 3n1′s $35,050 avg $5,007

18 Pair $57,375 avg $3,189

23 Bred $69,900 avg $3,039

27 Open $51,500 avg $1,907

1 Pick  $3,250

1 Semen and Embryo lot $2,925

79 Lots $226,500 avg $2,867

 

Top Bulls

Lot 83- Sire, Sugar Bear, consigned by Windy Hills, Poplarville, MS:  Sold to Tony Psencik, San Antonio, TX for $5,000.

 

Top Females

Lot 32a- Bred Donor, Sugar Britches x Jezabelle’s Goldmine, consigned by Steve Dodds and Don Bailey, Lexington, TN;  Sold to Slash Creek, Jeffersonville, GA for $1,500.

Lot 33- Pair, calf sire, Firehouse, consigned by Steve Dodds, Lexington, TN:  Sold to Randy Mason, Brownstown, IL for $9,500.

Lot 36- Bred Donor, Infinitley Buff, Infinity x Miss Buff, consigned by Steve Dodds and Painted Springs , Lexington, TN:Sold to Steven Anderson, Amarillo, TX for $7,500.

Lot 29- 3n1, calf sire Sugar Britches, consigned by Steve Dodds, Lexington, TN: Sold to Jerry Lingo, El Reno, OK for $5,750.

Lot 32b- Open, Sire Firehouse, consigned by Steve Dodds and Don Bailey, Lexington, TN; Sold to Neal Hiatt and Tyson Clabo, Mt Ulla, NC for $5,500.

Lot 30- Pair, calf sire Firehouse, consigned by Steve Dodds, Lexington, TN: Sold to Jerry Lingo, El Reno, OK for $4,500.

Lot 37- Donor Pair, Smooth Coco, calf sire Firehouse, consigned by Steve Dodds and Painted Springs , Lexington, TN: Sold to Emmons Ranch, Fairfield, TX for $4,500.

Lot 23- Pair, calf sire, Firehouse, consigned by Steve Dodds, Lexington, TN: Sold to Alex Gonzales, Alice,TX for $4,300.

 

Volume Buyers-  Tony Psencik, San Antonio, TX;  Clay Floyd, Jeffersonville, GA;

 

Auctioneer- Anthony Mihalski, San Antonio, TX

Sale Consultant-  Bruce Robbins, San Antonio, TX

Sale Manager-  3G Sales and Service, Franklin, GA

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Swinging B, T5, SM Production Sale Report

Swinging B, T5, SM Production Sale

Tenroc Ranch

Salado, TX 5-2-17

 

2 Bulls $9,500 avg $4,750

10 Pairs $59,250 avg $5,925

12 Bred $132,500 avg $11,042

36 Open $211,750 avg $5,882

17 Picks $152,750 avg $8,958

1 semen $5,700

1 Flush $8,000

79 Lots $575,450 avg $7,284

 

Top Females

Lot 31- Bred, Cry Baby, Bulletproof x Fergie , consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX ;  Sold to Randy Mason, Brownstown, IL for $41,000.

Lot 32- Bred, League Of Her Own, Bulletproof x Fergie , consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX: Sold to Next Gen Cattle Co., Paxico, KS for $23,000.

Lot 7- Open, Hello Hooray, Adonis x Satin Lady, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX:  Sold to Jim Colvin, Seguin, TX for $13,500.

Lot 33- Bred, Honey Love, Bulletproof x Fergie , consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX: Sold to Next Gen Cattle Co., Paxico, KS for$11,500.

Lot 65- Open, Firehouse x Glamour Girl, consigned by Sheldon McManus, Lake Charles, LA:  Sold to John and Barb Gillespie, Woodlands, TX for $10,000.

Lot 17- Open, M & M’s, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX;  Sold to Tom and Judy Bell, Shreveport, LA for $9,000.

Lot 5- Open, Amber, Adonis x Tily, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX;  Sold to Oscar Pesqueira, Nogales, AZ for $8,500.

Lot 19- Open, Precious, Adonis x Sugar Jumbles, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX:  Sold to Ken Tews, Timpson, TX for $8,000.

Lot 36- Bred, Eleanor, Adonis x Satin Lady, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX; Sold to Windy Hills, Poplarville, MS for $8,000.

Lot 38- Bred, Starlette, Adonis x Tily, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX: Sold to Bob Siddons, Lakeway, TX for $7,500.

Lot 78- Pair, calf sire, Dream On, Consigned by Sheldon McManus,Lake Charles, LA:  Sold to Brock Clay, meridian, MS for $7,500.

Lot 3- Open, Valerie, New Dimension x Fergie, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX:  Sold to Collier Farms, Brenham, TX for $7,250.

Lot 28- Bred, Shama, Adonis x Magical Pearl, consigned by Swinging B Ranch, Axtell, TX:  Sold to Steve Cogdell, Lillian, TX for $7,000.

Lot 42c- Calf, Three Times A Tiger, Tiger Britches x Futuristic, consigned by T5 Ranch, Bedias, TX:  Sold to Tanner Thomas, Needville, TX for $7,000.

Lot 58- Pair, calf sire, T5 619/4, consigned by T5 Ranch, Bedias, TX:  Sold to Jeff Garner, Blue Ridge, TX for $7,000.

 

Volume Buyers:  Next Gen Cattle Co., Paxico, KS; Jeff Garner, Blue Ridge, TX:  John and Barb Gillespie, Woodlands, TX:  Jim Colvin, Seguin, TX

 

Auctioneer- Anthony Mihalski, San Antonio, TX

Sale Consultants-  Bruce Robbins, San Antonio, TX

Anthony Mihalski, San Antonio, TX

Sale Manager-  3G Sales and Service, Franklin, GA

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The Search for Superior Maternal Genetics

 

By Bill Pendergrass, Beefmaster Breeders United Executive Vice President

Spring has sprung and with it, a remarkable demand for Beefmaster cattle. As I write this column we are over halfway through the spring marketing season and despite a large number of sales with increased consignments, prices for quality Beefmaster lots are impressive.

Demand is a fickle beast, it is hard to understand and even harder to explain. However, deciphering what is creating demand is essential to future planning. The demand for Beefmaster cattle is driven by herd rebuilding predominantly in Texas and Oklahoma, with some action from Missouri thrown in for good measure. The complexion of the cow herds in these areas is very different, ranging from F1 tiger stripes on the coastal bend to straight bred Angus in the fescue country of Missouri. The common thread across these varied environments is that these ranchers are searching for superior maternal genetics.

For the past three years, the BBU Advertising and Public Relations Committee has focused on the message of heterosis or crossbreeding. Promoting the benefits of crossbreeding with Beefmasters may appear to be stating the obvious. However as of lately, it seems that sticking to that message is yielding good results. As advertising strategy for 2017-2018 is being discussed, many members are vocal in their opinions to keep the “crossbreeding” message in place because it is effective. More calves, healthier calves, heavier pay weights and cows that live longer is a message that is easy to understand.

A new drumbeat of “beef cow efficiency” is gaining momentum within the beef industry. For those of you who read this column each month, you are probably tired of me bringing it up. The reason I keep bringing it up is that improving beef cow efficiency will be the next major, long term issue that the beef industry will tackle.

To illustrate how effective the U.S., beef industry is at improving major production issues I will refer to National Beef Quality Audits that started in 1991. These audits are led by animal scientists and industry partners and were initially conducted in packing plants to determine what issues were leading to reduced beef consumption by consumers. The findings of the 1991 audit were that the industry had serious carcass quality and consistency issues that were eroding the demand for beef.

Armed with data from the 1991 audit, academia went to work conducting producer education programs through the extension services in each state, implementing Beef Quality Assurance Certification programs and driving home the message that we are producing beef, not just cattle. An essential part of these extension programs was selecting and managing cattle for more marbling was the “right thing to do”, for the good of the beef industry. I must say that their techniques were very effective.

The National Beef Quality Audit is conducted every five years. Increasing marbling or Quality Grade was the main thrust of the educational campaign. Note the overall increase in Quality Grade achieved over the years according to the USDA: 55% Choice in 1991, 49% Choice in 1995, 61% Choice in 2011 and today 70% of the weekly kill is Choice or Prime. My point is that once academia sets its sights on improving a beef industry issue, they develop highly effective educational programs to “correct” said issues.

“Fixing” the carcass quality issue was fairly simple because selecting for terminal traits, such as carcass merit, is pretty straight forward. By single trait selecting for marbling and growth through using Angus genetics (because they had more data than anyone else) over a 25 year period, we have jumped the percentage Choice in our weekly kill almost 20%.

There is a great lesson here. If we issue a major industry challenge to academia, they will arm themselves with technology and data, then develop producer education programs through the extension service which then uses the technology and data to correct the “problem”. I say these things not be negative about academia or the extension service, but rather to point out how effective these programs are.

The emerging beef cow efficiency issue will be the next great battle ground in the beef industry. Academia is already at work on the issue. The difference between beef cow efficiency and carcass quality is that maternal traits are much more complex than carcass traits. This means that academia will be even more reliant upon technology and data to identify and “fix” the problem(s). Once the problem and the fix are identified, you can get prepared for the massive extension education programs that will follow. The good news is that Beefmasters are ideally suited for the efficiency issue. We have the opportunity to be on the “right” side of this issue.

At the Plains Nutrition Council spring conference, the USDA Meat Animal Research Center presented across breed comparisons for efficiency by using post-weaning gain and average daily gain during feed intake data collection. In this 18 breed evaluation, for both steer and heifer ADG/DMI, Beefmasters ranked second. While complex, the data suggests that Beefmasters gain more weight and use less feed to accomplish the gain. This type of information is not new and is seen in Growsafe Systems LLC trials across the country.

Why am I talking about feed conversion in a discussion about beef cow efficiency? The University of Illinois has Growsafe Systems data that suggests the same rankings for cattle developed on forage then moved to concentrate diets, and vice versa. If that is the case, the same cattle that are efficient converters on grain are also efficient convertors of forage. This means that Beefmasters can leverage feed efficiency into the cow maintenance and annual cow cost arguments. This is truly good news for Beefmasters.

Beefmaster may also finally have some good things to talk about in terms of carcass value. Since the vast majority of fat cattle are sold on pricing grids to packers, hitting the value drivers for those grids is important. The first value driver of any grid is hot carcass weight, which is a direct correlation to the dressing percentage. Over the years, as the percentage of Angus cattle has increased in the daily kill, the plant average dressing percentage has decreased. This is in part due to body deposition because Angus cattle are growing very large internal organs, which are considered offal and are a detriment to dressing percentage. Packers are openly talking about dressing percentage issues now and Beefmasters excel in this grid driving trait.

In a recent Certified Angus Beef article, a staff writer went into detail using current carcass pricing statistics, showing the value of dressing percentage. For every 1% increase in dressing percentage on an 850 pound carcass, you would expect to gain an additional $28 per head (using current grid values). With a 62.5% plant average for dressing percentage and BBU data suggests that Beefmaster sired steers average 65.5% (BBU Director James Skelton is averaging 65.5% on his Beefmaster sired steers fed at Irsik and Doll Feedyard) it is easy to assume that good, higher yielding Beefmaster steers will earn an extra $84 per head, just off of dressing percentage. That earns back more money than the vaunted Choice/Select spread. If the cattle grade Choice and Yield Grade 3 or better, they are worth a lot to the packer. This doesn’t even factor in feedyard performance and feed conversions.

Beefmaster breeders, you have a lot to be excited about. The more research that is conducted on efficiency, the better Beefmasters look. We encourage you to invest in your future and embrace the technologies that are making our product look really good. The interconnected web of performance data, genomics, ultrasound scans, genetic evaluations, Growsafe systems, heterosis and whatever comes next is a friend of Beefmasters. These technologies are proving what you as breeders have known for some time, Beefmasters are truly efficient at all stages. It’s time to secure our future.

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BBU Fun Facts

    • Beefmasters were recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a pure breed in 1954
    • Beefmaster Breeders United was founded in 1961
    • Developed on the Six Essentials – Weight, Conformation, Milk Production, Fertility, Hardiness and Disposition
    • In 2016, Beefmaster Breeders United registered 16,900 animals
    • As of June 2017, there are 3,074 Beefmaster Breeders United members
    • Beefmaster is ranked 9th among beef cattle breed registrations (source: National Pedigreed Livestock Council)
    • The association is made up of nine satellite organizations
      • Arkansas BBA, Central Texas BBA, Central States BBA, Live Oak BBA, Lone Star BBA, Louisiana BBA, Southeastern BBA, South Texas BBA and Western States BBA
    • The association has six marketing groups that assist in marketing Beefmaster cattle
      • Beefmaster Promotion Group, East Texas / Louisiana, Mid-Atlantic, Ozark and Heart of America, Southern Alliance and Texoma Beefmaster
    • In 2009 the Beefmaster Educational Endowment Foundation (B.E.E.F.) was founded and is dedicated to scientific research, scholarships and public education
    • Junior Beefmaster Breeders Association (JBBA) was founded in 1984 and is dedicated to providing young Beefmaster breeders education, scholarships and agribusiness opportunities
    • The Beefmaster Breeders Cattlewomen is an organization affiliated with BBU and is dedicated to assisting with junior programs and promoting the Beefmaster breed
    • The 2017 BBU Convention is in Galveston, Texas from October 26-28, 2017
    • There are fourteen BBU standing and special committees and there are twenty members of the BBU Board of Directors
    • There are seventeen BBU breeding programs: Advancer, Artificial Insemination, Carcass Evaluation, Classification, DNA Testing, E6 Female, Ear Tags, Embryo Transfer, Go International, Pacesetter, Pro Services, Ranch Visit, Typesetter, Ultrasound, Upgrading, Weights & Measures and WHR/IBR
    • The Beefmaster Cowman is the official publication of BBU and The Beefmaster Pay Weight is the commercial publication
    • There are thirteen EPDs calculated in the Beefmaster breed: Calving Ease, Birth Weight, Weaning Weight, Yearling Weight, Milk, Total Maternal, Maternal Calving Ease, Scrotal Circumference, REA, IMF, Rib Fat, $T Index and $M Index
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    Live Oak BBA Spring Sale Report

     

     

     

     

     

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