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Hunting for Herd Sires: Simple Bull Buying (and Selling) Tips

By Matt Woolfolk, Field Representative & Commercial Marketing Director

Fall sale season is officially in overdrive, and all signs indicate that the softer feeder calf market is not putting a damper on the demand for Beefmaster genetics. The early fall sales are reporting higher averages than last year, and interest in the upcoming events across the country is encouraging.

What makes the fall sale season unique in our breed is that the majority of Beefmaster bulls are sold during this time. Some of you may be in the market for a new herd sire to add to your operation, while others are selling their young bulls to commercial customers. Whether you’re buying or selling, matching the right bull to a set of cows is not a quick and easy task. Here are a few tips that will aid you in the process.

1. Do your homework. Regardless of which side of the market you are on, it’s important to have done some research before the sale. As a buyer, take a look at your operation to identify the strengths of your cowherd, as well as areas that you want to improve through sire selection. It’s hard to make progress when you don’t know what needs improvement. On the selling end, having a great knowledge of each bull in your sale pen will better enable you to identify the right bulls for each of your customers.

2. Ask Questions. Again, this is a point that is important for both sides of the market. If you’re bull shopping, ask the breeder about how they manage their cows and develop their bulls. If possible, ask to see the dams and sisters of the bulls. Gathering more information helps you make an even more informed decision. When someone comes to your place to buy bulls, asking them about their operation is part of good customer service. It allows you to get to know your potential buyer, as well as gives you information to help them better select a bull that meets their needs and will be successful in their herd.

3. Don’t let data overwhelm you. There’s a LOT of numbers to decipher when looking for a new bull: weights, ultrasounds, test results, ratios, EPDs. It can be a little overwhelming! All this information is a good tool to have when buying or selling bulls. Take the time to become familiar with any information you might not understand. If you’re selling bulls, knowing and being able to explain this information to your customers could be a huge selling point.

4. Structure is vital. I saved the most important point for the end. When you’re doing your homework before the sale, you find what you think is the perfect bull for you on paper. Evaluate his skeletal structure in person, making sure he is built to work in your herd for several years. A bull with unsatisfactory feet and legs cannot travel the pasture and do his job as a breeding bull. Just like an injured athlete can’t play, an unsound bull can’t work in your herd.

I could say a lot about the importance of herd bull selection. In fact, I probably will do so in a future BBU Educational Seminar. For now, these tips should help you if you’re in the market this fall. Best of luck in your bull search!

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Introducing the Beefmaster Pay Weight

The Beefmaster Pay Weight is a publication produced by Beefmaster Breeders United and dedicated to serving commercial cattlemen. We feature the latest beef cattle industry news, innovative discoveries in the industry, and discussions about the latest cattle trends and technologies. The Beefmaster Pay Weight was founded to assist the Beefmaster cattle industry with effective advertising and a communication tool with commercial cattlemen throughout the country.

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Stephen F. Austin University Bull Development Program

Stephen F. Austin State University is preparing for its Bull Development Program set to begin January 15, 2016. The program is designed to assist producers in selecting and managing bulls. It offers producers relief from providing additional facilities, labor, and feed to retain young bulls. The program is designed for bulls born January 1, 2015 to May 31, 2015. Bulls entered into the program are fed through mid-October.

At the end of the development program, bulls may be consigned to the Purple Premium Sale scheduled for November 2016. Producers are issued a monthly report on the performance of each bull in the program with information including BW, ADG, and carcass ultrasound traits. The bulls are developed for 120 days on a grain-based diet and finished on forage with supplementation (depending on forage conditions).

Spring 2016 Bull development program

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In The Spotlight

By Matt Woolfolk, Field Representative & Commercial Marketing Director

This past weekend, my travels took me to Tennessee for a little family time mixed in with work. I sat down with my family to watch the Miss America pageant on Sunday evening. My 16-year-old nephew actually suggested this activity and he was very interested in the proceedings of the contest. He provided entertainment for the rest of us by comparing and analyzing each of the beauty queens’ walks down the runway. His reason: “I don’t want Miss America to be structurally unsound”. I’m glad to know that he was listening to my lessons on the importance of structurally sound cattle, but I worry that he may be taking it to the extreme when checking out the girls on TV!

All kidding aside, there was a really great part of the pageant that we as cattle people can take value from. As each member of the Top 15 was announced, a short video was played with each woman telling about their childhood. When Miss Arkansas was announced, she explained in her video how she grew up in agriculture. She was a farmer’s daughter who was active in 4-H and she showed cattle with her sister. It was neat to see someone with such a public platform speak positively about our industry and how it has helped her grow as a person. Although she did not advance into the top ten, she was one of my picks to win it all because of her message and how much I appreciated her willingness to promote agriculture on the national stage.

As an industry, we need more people like Miss Arkansas. We see public figures all the time doing commercials for organizations like PETA and HSUS, but those willing to step up and be a spokesperson for animal agriculture are few and far between. There are “a few good men” out there using their celebrity status to promote agriculture, but not near enough. We can’t rely solely on a celebrity spokesperson to speak for agriculture. As an industry, it’s up to those of us within the business to promote our cause and share with the general public that our goal is to provide food for the people of this country and worldwide. Each and every one of us can be a part of spreading the message. Farmers and ranchers are the celebrities of agriculture! Approximately two percent of the U.S. population works in agriculture. Yes, we are very much in the minority. But the opportunity is there to reach the other 98% (about 312 million people) and share what we are doing to raise healthy food to put on America’s dinner table, providing food for more people with fewer resources than ever before.

As Beefmaster breeders, we’re always discussing better way to promote our breed. It’s also important to remember that we’re a part of a bigger group, the agriculture community, which needs as much positive promotion as we can give it. Those that attack agriculture seem to forget that their food doesn’t get created in the back room of the local grocery. Let’s remind them of all the hard work that goes into feeding the world.

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Apply for a BBU award today! Award Applications Available Now!

Each year Beefmaster Breeders United recognizes outstanding members through various awards at the annual national convention! The award applications and nomination forms are now available and the deadline is September 30, 2015. Nomination forms can be mailed, faxed or emailed to the BBU office. BBU will accept nominations for the following awards: New Member of the Year, Member of the Year, Environmental Award, Performance Breeder of the Year, and Breeder of the Year.

Click the links for each respective nomination form!

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Playing to Win

By Matt Woolfolk, Field Representative & Commercial Marketing Director

September is here and coming with it is the most exciting time of the year: college football season.  In the south there’s really only two seasons of the year: football season and waiting for football season.  I think people across the country love college football, but it takes on a whole new meaning in the south.  After going to school at two different SEC institutions, I can say with confidence that alumni of SEC schools are a different breed.  Football games are not a hobby or a weekend pastime, but rather a lifestyle.  The actual game can be an afterthought to the tailgate party and social gatherings.  There is one thing that fans of all SEC schools have in common, no matter the outcome on the field they will stand behind their school and continue to support the players and coaches who represent the school they love.

I think there are a lot of similarities between beef cattle producers and a college football team.  Success in both areas requires outstanding leadership, top-notch teaching and coaching, the ability to develop a winning game plan, and the team work to execute that game plan.  Having all these pieces in place can take a team from the bottom of the league to championship contenders.  One example that quickly comes to mind is the transformation of my Alma mater, Mississippi State (MSU).  When I was a kid, the Bulldogs were the punch line of a lot of jokes.  They couldn’t beat anybody and some weeks had more players arrested than points scored.  An enthusiastic young coach named Dan Mullen was brought to Starkville to rebuild the program into a winner.  From his opening press conference, Mullen preached the importance of having young men that worked hard to become better football players and took pride in playing for Mississippi State.  While rival fans and the national media laughed, he constantly talked about competing for SEC and national championships at MSU.  He had a plan in place to take his new team to the top, and he was not afraid of the challenge.  In his first season, the Bulldogs won five games, but still lost seven.  The following season they won nine games and progress was being made.  Three more seasons of winning records showed that MSU was getting better.  Last season, Mississippi State did what nobody (including a die hard State fan like myself) thought was possible.  The Bulldogs rose to the number one ranking in the country.  A team that once was bad enough to lose to schools like Maine and Troy State was now considered the best college football team in the nation.  While many called the Bulldogs an “overnight success”, State fans knew this was just the realization of a plan that was laid out six years earlier when Dan Mullen was hired as the coach to turn the program into a winner.

Like Mississippi State football, I think the Beefmaster breed is poised for unprecedented success.  We may not have a head coach, but we have countless leaders who believe in Beefmaster cattle and are creating the game plan for our continued growth.  We have breeders who are willing to work hard to breed better cattle and take great pride in being Beefmaster breeders.  The past year has seen many successful bull and female sales, fueling the interest of commercial cattlemen.  I’ve had several breeders tell me that just a few years ago they couldn’t sell a Beefmaster bull.  Now, they are turning customers away because they have sold out of bulls!  We’ve come a long way in a short time.  All the pieces are in place to take the next step from “good to great”.  If we continue to work towards the goal of breeding better cattle, we too can be number one: the NUMBER ONE pick of commercial cattlemen!

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Upcoming Webinar: Strategies For Success – Starting Strong

Join this free National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) webinar to learn how to make value-based decisions, create an essential network of people and other elements of success for your life and business with best-selling author and leadership development professional, John Spence. This webinar is being hosted by NCBA’s Young Beef Leaders (YBL). You’ll hear about YBL and the activities they have planned for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego.

Webinar ID: 144-861-955


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Stephen F. Austin University Heifer Development Program

About the program:
Stephen F. Austin State University is preparing for its Heifer Development Program. The program is designed to assist producers in selecting and managing for replacement heifers. It offers producers relief from providing additional facilities, labor, and feed to retain young heifers. The program is designed for heifers ranging in weight from 400-700 lbs. Heifers are entered into the program in mid-October and fed through mid-March. Producers are issued a monthly report on the performance of each heifer in the program with information including BW, ADG, REA, RF, IMF, and a relative temperament rating. Additionally, heifers can be entered into the breeding program and be artificially inseminated at the conclusion of the feeding period. Heifers should gain 1-3 lbs per day in the program.


1. Heifers must be weaned and bunk broke for a minimum of 2 weeks.
2. Ear tag identification is required indicating owner and calf number.
3. Heifers must be dehorned or tipped (no longer than 2 inches).
4. Vaccination for brucellosis is recommended.
5. Heifers must be dewormed and deloused a minimum of 30 days prior to entry.
6. Heifers must be free of active Pinkeye, ringworm and warts.
7. Any bull exposure must be disclosed before entry.
8. Vaccination for the following must be completed according to the manufacturer’s specifications a minimum of 2 weeks prior to entry.

  • 7-way Clostridium
  • Haemophilus Somnus
  • Pasteurella H&M
  • Lepto and Vibrio
  • Moraxella bovis (Pinkeye)

9. Unsound heifers will be reported to the owners and will either be treated at the owner’s expense or removed from the program.

Program Timeline
The 2015-2016 program is accepting heifers October of 2015. Heifer calves weighing between 400-700 lbs are eligible for the 4 month program. Acceptance into the program will be first come first serve, based on availability of silage and feedlot space. Contact Dr. Erin Brown (936)468-6948 or Chris Koffskey (979)224-8178 for reservations.

1. Sign-up prior to October 1st
2. Drop off heifers in mid-October
3. Feeding trial starts November 1st
4. Weights recorded monthly November- March
5. Ultrasound for carcass data late February (if desired by producer)
6. End Feeding trial mid- March
7. A.I. program begins mid-March
8. Synchronize and breed eligible heifers by timed A.I.
9. Ultrasound for conception mid-April
10. A.I. heifers go home mid to late April

Program Cost
Cost will be figured by entry weight starting at $2.00/day for a 400 lb heifer. An additional $0.15 will be charged for each cwt above 400 lbs. The cost will remain fixed for each individual heifer throughout the program. In other words, a heifer coming in at 600 lbs will be charged $2.30 per day until it leaves the program. The A.I. program costs roughly $100 per head including one month feeding, synchronization, breeding, and ultrasound for conception.

Price is subject to fluctuation with market values of corn and beans. Additional costs include medical treatment or veterinary care if deemed necessary by the SFASU staff. Unthrifty heifers will be brought to the attention of the owner before consideration for removal from the program. Billing is conducted on a monthly basis. All bills must be paid before cattle are allowed to leave the facility. For more information or to visit the facility contact:

Dr. Erin Brown (936)564-5924 or Chris Koffskey (979)224-8178
Stephen F. Austin State University
SFASU Beef Farm
442 CR 123
Nacogdoches, TX 75965


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Arkansas Cattleman’s Field Day

A Cattleman’s Field Day sponsored by Central States Beefmaster Breeders Association (CSBBA) and Arkansas Beefmaster Breeders Association (ABBA) was held in Rosebud, Ark., on Sat., August 15. The educational portion “Profits From Heterosis” was held in the air conditioned Rosebud school cafeteria.

Featured speakers were BBU Executive Vice President Bill Pendergrass, Dr. Robert Wells from the Noble Foundation, and Mark Cowan with American Marketing Services. The event was well attended with 85 people registered. Seventy-five percent of the attendees were commercial cattlemen who are not currently members of BBU. Attendees came from Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. One person from Australia also attended. She is in the United States studying ranch operations and heard about the event.

Following a hearty lunch, the group went out to Rosebud Feeders to look at 173 Beefmaster and Beefmaster Advancer bulls. These bulls have been developed on a performance test at Rosebud Feeders since January 2015 and are the ones that have passed the rigorous tests and scanning. Two-hundred and three bulls began the test. More bulls will be culled before the CSBBA Performance Bull Sale on Fri., November 6. Only the best will be allowed to sell.

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Are you ready for some football? And cattle sales?

By Matt Woolfolk, Field Representative & Commercial Marketing Director

I’ve heard that it takes three weeks to establish a new habit or to break a bad habit.  Since it’s been more than three weeks since I sat down and wrote an article, I am definitely out of habit!  It’s an exciting time in my world: fall sale season is kicking off this weekend and college football is just two weeks away!  On Saturdays in the fall, I’m thankful for XM radio in the car.  It’s the only way I am able to keep up with all the action on the field while traveling and working the fall sale circuit.  I’ll dig a little deeper into my love for football in the next article.  This week it is time to get excited about selling cattle this fall!

As the sale season kicks off, be sure to check your calendars and find the sales closest to you.  Make an effort to attend a sale you’ve never been to before and meet some new people.  You might learn something new that you can apply in your operation, while making new friends and business connections in the process.  The day before a sale is a great time to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow breeders while checking out the sale offering and enjoying a good meal.  The day before a sale is a little more relaxed atmosphere, as everyone seems to switch to business mode on sale morning.

With all the traveling to make sales every weekend, the fall season is a great opportunity for me to get out and meet members and see their cattle.  If you would like to have BBU come out to your operation for classification, upgrading or consultation services: the time to set up those visits is now!  The calendar is filling up quickly, so don’t delay in reserving your spot.  To do so, just give me a call at (210) 464-0923 or email me at

The first sale of the fall is this weekend in Tunica, Miss.  Before we know it, we’ll be selling the final lot in Sulphur Springs, Texas and closing out 2015.  I hope to see you all on the road this fall at a sale near you.  If there’s anything I can do for you, please feel free to let me know.

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