Letter to the Membership Regarding Bill Pendergrass

Dear Beefmaster Nation and Family,

A few days ago we were delivered unfortunate news regarding the health of our Executive Vice President. Bill Pendergrass suffered a stroke the night of August 10, 2017 while he was in Tennessee visiting his mother, who was in the hospital. His timing of being in the hospital during the stroke proved to be a blessing because he received immediate medical attention. The last few days have been filled with texts and phone calls with updates from the family and through God’s will, Bill is continuing to improve. To date, the swelling in his brain continues to recede and his numbers continue to stabilize with the passing of each day. The outlook, as described by the neurological team, is promising.

Currently Bill is in an ICU in Johnson City, Tenn., where he will remain until the physicians are confident that he is strong and stable enough to transport to a recovery center. The plan is to move Bill to TIRR Memorial Herman in Houston, Texas, as it is closer to home, but more importantly it is one of the best stroke recovery units in the United States.

The family is asking for continued prayers as they work through this time. If you would like to send cards of well-wishes, please send them to the BBU office in Boerne, Texas and we will make sure to get them to the family, as soon as the move to Houston is complete.

As members of Beefmaster Breeders United, I want to assure you that we are working through this difficult time and we will continue our current programs and projects. We have a GREAT staff in place and each staff member will pick up any necessary rolls in order to continue business as usual and meet the needs of our members.

We are in the middle of some very exciting times. We are gathering more and more data for existing programs and working to enhance our already robust data sets. We continue to look at adding new programs to make sure we continue to move forward with the cattle industry. Your Board of Directors is set to meet with industry professionals and specialists this week to discuss the future of the cattle industry and how to better position Beefmasters to gain more market share. We will keep the breed moving forward and help you continue to provide quality Beefmaster genetics to the beef industry.

As always, if you have any questions or thoughts to share with us please do not hesitate to contact us.  We are here to serve you as members and will do so in the most professional manner possible.

Most of all, we do ask that you keep Bill and his wife Cathy in your thoughts and prayers as they work through this difficult time and begin the road to recovery. God has a plan for all of us, even if we do not understand it sometimes. Bill is strong and determined to overcome this road block. Help us lift him up in prayer.




Collin Osbourn

CFO, Beefmaster Breeders United

mobile – 325-347-7507

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Beefmaster Excels in USDA Feed Efficiency Evaluation


BOERNE, Texas – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducted a feed efficiency evaluation at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Neb., on 18 beef cattle breeds. The feed efficiency test results ranked the Beefmaster breed second for Average Daily Gain (ADG) and Dry Matter Intake (DMI) in both steers and heifers.

The USMARC study evaluated a group of 5,606 head of cattle and the group was composed of both finishing steers and growing replacement heifers. The study collected data for DMI, ADG and Post Weaning Gain (PWG). DMI and ADG data was recorded over 62 to 148 day periods for both steers and heifers. PWG was calculated by dividing gain from weaning to yearling weights by the number of days between the weights. Individual animal feed intake data was measured daily, as a key component of the evaluation. All animals used were from the USMARC germplasm evaluation project.

Using the Angus breed as a base of zero (0), the other 17 breeds were compared back to Angus as a baseline for both steers and heifers, and then were evaluated for efficiency using ADG and PWG during feed intake data collection. Beefmasters ranked second for ADG in both steers and heifers, thus proving that Beefmaster cattle excel in feed efficiency. The impact of feed efficiency on cattle feeders is significant and identifying genetics that gain more, while eating less feed is a recipe for profitability.

“Beefmasters are gaining attention as the beef industry begins to seek out efficiency genetics to bridge the gap to optimal, cost effective production practices,” says Beefmaster Breeders United Executive Vice President Bill Pendergrass. “Beefmasters have been long regarded as a versatile maternal breed, but this feed efficiency study points out that Beefmasters bring significant value drivers to the cattle feeder as well.”

View the entire study here USMARC Feed Efficiency Trial 2017

For more information about Beefmaster Breeders United please contact the BBU office at 210-732-3132 or visit Stay connected to BBU through Facebook, follow us on Instagram, view our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, as well as receive our news updates through joining our mailing list.


Beefmaster Breeders United (, located in Boerne, Texas, is a not-for-profit breed registration organization that provides programs and services for its members. Beefmaster, Beefmaster Advancer and E6 cattle are selected on the “Six Essentials” of disposition, fertility, weight, conformation, milk production and hardiness.

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Beefmasters Excel in Feed Efficiency Evaluation


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducted a feed efficiency evaluation at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Neb., on 18 beef cattle breeds. The feed efficiency test results ranked the Beefmaster breed second for Average Daily Gain (ADG) and Dry Matter Intake (DMI) in both steers and heifers. Only one other breed ranked in the top five in ADG and DMI for both sexes in this study and they were below the mark set by Beefmasters.

Ranking Breed Steer Ranking Breed Heifer
1 Limousin 0.206 1 South Devon 0.203
2 Beefmaster 0.203 2 Beefmaster 0.096
3 Chiangus 0.13 3 Hereford 0.094
3 Maine Anjou 0.13 4 Maine Anjou 0.031
4 Santa Gertrudis 0.119 5 Charolais 0.03
5 Gelbvieh 0.107 6 Shorthorn 0.025
6 Brahman 0.1 7 Limousin 0.017
7 Hereford 0.099 8 Santa Gerturudis 0.012
8 Braunvieh 0.073 9 Chiangus 0.008
9 Charolais 0.07 10 Salers 0.002
9 Salers 0.07 11 Angus 0
9 Shorthorn 0.07 12 Simmental -0.004
10 Tarentaise 0.05 12 Red Angus -0.004
11 Simmental 0.027 13 Brahman -0.023
12 Angus 0 14 Gelbvieh -0.027
13 Brangus -0.002 15 Brangus -0.049
14 Red Angus -0.014 16 Braunvieh -0.078
15 South Devon -0.041 17 Tarentaise -0.081


Details about the evaluation:

The 18 breed USMARC study evaluated 5,606 head of cattle (composed of finishing steers and growing replacement heifers) for DMI, ADG and Post Weaning Gain (PWG). DMI and ADG data were recorded over 62 to 148 day periods for both steers and heifers. PWG was calculated by dividing gain from weaning to yearling weights by the number of days between the weights. Individual animal feed intake data was measured daily as a key component of the evaluation. All animals used were from the U.S. MARC germplasm evaluation project.

Using the Angus breed as a base of zero (0), the other breeds were compared back to the Angus as a baseline for both steers and heifers, where they were evaluated for efficiency using ADG and PWG during feed intake data collection. Beefmasters ranked second for ADG in both steers and heifers.

Feed Efficiency Adds Value

Feed efficiency is important for all sectors of the industry. Cattlemen have known this for a long time. The challenge has always been finding a cost effective way to measure feed efficiency in individual animals. Over the past decade new technologies, such as GrowSafe Systems LLC, have emerged as a means to collect detailed individual animal feed intake data, from which individual animal feed conversions can be extracted. With the inclusion of this powerful new individual intake and conversion data, researchers are now conducting exciting new feed efficiency evaluations which are identifying more efficient animals. When one considers the impact of adding the power of genomics to the equation, the prospects of making rapid genetic improvements in the area of feed efficiency is exciting.

Feed Efficiency Impacts Cow-Calf Sector

Improved feed efficiency relates directly to the cow-calf operator. Annual cow maintenance costs are the largest expense in all cow-calf programs. Replacing large appetite and high maintenance cows with more feed efficient females impacts the bottom line by reducing annual cow costs. In operations where supplemental feeding is required for the cow herd, more feed efficient cows post cost savings to the bottom line.

While current research is focused on measuring feed efficiency, science is also unraveling the relationship between efficiency on feed vs. efficiency on pasture. Some limited research has shown that the same cattle that are efficient on feed will also be more efficient on forage. That remains to be proven in large scale projects, but scientists are working to solve the pasture efficiency question.

Some efficiency researchers hypothesize that specific efficiency traits, such as Residual Feed Intake (RFI), is a maternal trait. If that is correct, the way ranchers make mating decisions in the future could be greatly impacted because selecting for feed efficiency would become as common as using birth weight EPDs.

Feed Efficiency in the Feedyard

The impact of feed efficiency on cattle feeders is obvious. Identifying genetics that gain more while eating less feed is a recipe for profitability. Over the past 10 years, the beef industry has focused almost exclusively on Quality Grade in our finished cattle. The push to improve marbling to earn the carcass premiums that come with it, coupled with relatively inexpensive corn, has distracted many cattle feeders away from the importance of feed conversion to total profitability. Do you remember when the ethanol subsidies pushed corn to record prices? That was the last time the industry was vocal about the need for more feed efficient cattle.

Cattle with better feed conversions have fewer days on feed and lower cost of gain, resulting in serious cost savings for their owners. These feed efficiency upgrades come with even more value in the case of Beefmasters when you factor in advantages for dressing percentage, which lead to more pounds to add to your grid pricing worksheet. It takes a historically large Choice/Select spread to override the value adding combination of cattle that convert on feed in the mid 5:1 range, post over 3.5 ADG, dress in the 64%-65% range and hang up predominantly Yield Grade 2 carcasses. Beefmaster steers are doing just that in feedyards across the country, while still Quality Grading at acceptable levels.

Beefmasters are gaining attention as the beef industry begins to seek out efficiency genetics to bridge the gap to optimal, cost effective production practices. Beefmasters have been long regarded as a versatile maternal breed, but this feed efficiency study points out that Beefmasters bring significant value drivers to the cattle feeder as well.

This study, buoyed by individual animal feed intake technology, points out major feed efficiency differences between breeds. For years Beefmasters have been recognized as solid feedyard performers with superior health, lower cost of gain and superior feed conversion rates. Feed efficiency, coupled with higher yielding and improved dressing percentages, adds a new layer of added value over the top of today’s grid pricing mechanisms.

Crossbreeding with Beefmasters

Efficiency doesn’t stop at the feed bunk. Beefmasters add efficiency through a powerful heterosis kick that will improve fertility, longevity, health, improved pay weights and overall profitability. Thanks to the strong Bos indicus base, Beefmasters are truly unique among composite breeds. According to geneticists, Beefmaster post 63% retained heterosis which is a great advantage on the maternal side.

Beefmaster bulls used on high percentage Angus cows yield results that keep the cowman in business and the feedyard happy. This popular cross anchors the maternal equation with progeny being 75% British and 25% ear. Enough Bos indicus to ramp up maternal heterosis, while maintaining market and carcass acceptability of the Angus/Hereford/Shorthorn influence. Being predominantly black-hided and showing very little ear or navel, calves of this cross consistently earn branded premiums that other black-hided calves earn. The biggest difference is the extra pounds of pay weight and replacement females that stay in the herd significantly longer than straight Bos taurus cows. All of this thanks to heterosis.


The versatility and adaptability of Beefmasters is eye opening. Many breeds talk about how adaptable they are, but Beefmasters prove it. Two of the largest markets for Beefmaster bulls are the high desert of the Northwest region and the Gulf Coast region, which stretches from Mexico all the way to Florida and the Atlantic coastline. Ranchers in these wildly different environments use Beefmasters to anchor the maternal needs for their commercial operations.

In the high desert ranchers are able to utilize more country simply because hardier Beefmaster cross cows will travel farther to water sources than high percentage British cows. The willingness to cover more country, utilizing native pasture and thrive in higher elevations creates efficiency and provides great value to ranchers.

Gulf Coast conditions provide a totally different set of challenges for ranchers. Hot, very humid conditions with lots of low quality forage, coupled with unprecedented insect and parasite loads makes ranching in this region very challenging. The challenges of maintaining body condition scores and getting cows bred back make Beefmasters a great choice in this region. The bonus of heavier calf pay weights due to Beefmaster performance is also a nice upgrade.

Beefmaster bull users in these two very different environments tend to be large scale commercial herds. The feeder calves produced from these large herds go directly into some of the beef industry’s best known branded beef programs. Beefmaster sired steers have earned a reputation for meeting the carcass specifications for these demanding programs and being the most profitable cattle in those supply chains.

For cattlemen facing the challenges of fescue country, Brahman influenced genetics have been documented to handle the effects of fescue toxicity better than any other genetic combination. The efficiency advantage Beefmaster offers farmers in the fescue belt is impressive. Combining the breed complimentary crossbreeding effect of Beefmaster with the predominantly Angus herds of this region yields great value, all thanks to the proven attributes of heterosis.

A Systems Approach to Efficiency

The key to profitability is identifying the genetics and management scenarios that fit the marketing program or supply chain that your calves will eventually wind up in. In other words streamlining your product to fit the system. There are some basic steps every cattleman can take to increase efficiency. The industry has known about these tools for some time, but have not correctly capitalized on them.

Crossbreeding is the simplest way to implement efficiency and will yield the greatest return for commercial cattlemen. The benefits of direct and maternal heterosis have been documented time and time again. Implementing an organized, controlled crossbreeding program will make your entire operation more efficient. Including Beefmasters as a key ingredient will allow you to squeeze more profit out of your program.

USMARC Feed Efficiency Trial 2017

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Junior Beefmaster Breeders Win in Wichita Falls, Texas


BOERNE, Texas – Over two hundred Junior Beefmaster Breeders Association (JBBA) members and their families traveled to the MPEC – J.S. Bridwell Agricultural Center in Wichita Falls, Texas for the 33rd Annual JBBA National Show and Convention from July 16-22. This week-long event hosted Junior Beefmaster breeders from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Along with the cattle shows and convention, money was also raised to support the JBBA program.

“A big thank you to the auction donors, live auction buyers and Calcutta auction buyers. The auctions held last week raised over $16,000 for the Junior Beefmaster Breeders program,” said Collin Osbourn, Beefmaster Breeders United Chief Financial Officer.

During the convention JBBA members elected the following individuals to represent them as the 2017-2018 JBBA Board of Directors and Officers.

  • President: Cristian Samano of Decatur, Texas
  • President Elect: Raleigh Scherer of Brenham, Texas
  • Secretary: Emily Martin of New Ulm, Texas
  • Treasurer: Seth Byers of Decatur, Texas
  • Reporter: Amanda McCoskey of Simms, Texas
  • District 1 Directors: Amelia Buckley of Collins, Miss., and Saige Tassin of Bush, La.
  • District 2 Directors:  Kylee Henderson of Checotah, Okla., and Kodi Stapp of Shawnee, Okla.
  • District 3 Directors: Nicholas Flanery of New Caney, Texas and Reece Wrobleski of Anderson, Texas
  • District 4 Directors: Richard Longoria of Mission, Texas and Caitlin Vargas of Edinburg, Texas
  • District 5 Directors: Coby Pritchett of Combine, Texas and Braylee Mackie of Lott, Texas

The annual event consisted of several competitions including public speaking, photography, power point presentation, livestock judging and herdsman quiz.

The winners of the public speaking contest are as follows:

  • Junior 1st place: Kayl Tassin, Bush, La.
  • Intermediate 1st place: Abigail Hooper, Joaquin, Texas
  • Senior 1st place TIE: Saige Tassin, Bush, La., and Gabby Eskew, Sealy, Texas

The winners of the photography contest are as follows:

  • Junior 1st place: Makenzie Low, Alto, Texas
  • Intermediate 1st place: Lillian Hettinger, Springtown, Texas
  • Senior 1st place: Braylee Mackie, Lott, Texas

The winners of the power point presentation contest are as follows:

  • Junior 1st place: Cody Barnett, Decatur, Texas
  • Intermediate 1st place: Clayborne Janssen, Victoria, Texas
  • Senior 1st place: Sierra Rhodes, Raymondville, Texas

The winners of the livestock judging contest are as follows:

  • Junior 1st place: Kenlie Pearson, Southlake, Texas
  • Intermediate 1st place: Anna Hiser, Crandall, Texas
  • Senior 1st place: Rylee Cass, Bryan, Texas

The winners of the herdsman quiz contest are as follows:

  • Junior 1st place: Cayden Carpenter, Shawnee, Okla.
  • Intermediate 1st place: Bennett Janssen, Victoria, Texas
  • Senior 1st place: Trenton Glaser, Rogers, Texas

The JBBA members also participated in multiple cattle competitions during the week in Wichita Falls and six different shows took place for members to exhibit their cattle. The six shows included an ultrasound carcass contest, showmanship competition, a bred and owned heifer show, a bred and owned bull show, a Beefmaster E6/Advancer heifer show and the JBBA National Heifer Show.

The winners of the showmanship competition are as follows:

  • Junior Champion Showman: Audrey Felux, LaVernia, Texas
  • Junior Reserve Champion Showman: Kayl Tassin, Bush, La.
  • Intermediate Champion Showman: Abigail Hooper, Joaquin, Texas
  • Intermediate Reserve Champion Showman: Graicie Bouchard, Azle, Texas
  • Senior and Pevine Hicks Memorial Champion Showman: Payton Herzog, Robinson, Texas
  • Senior Reserve Champion Showman: Raegan Emmons, Streetman, Texas

The winners of the ultrasound carcass contest are as follows:

  • Class 1 Heifers: Caitlin Vargas, Edinburg, Texas
  • Class 2 Heifers: Amanda McCoskey, Simms, Texas
  • Class 3 Heifers: Brittany Durrett, Chico, Texas
  • Class 4 Heifers: Emily Paris, Azle, Texas
  • Class 5 Heifers: Lily Hettinger, Springtown, Texas
  • Class 1 Bulls: Cristian Samano, Decatur, Texas
  • Class 2 Bulls: Layne Bode, Dayton, Texas

The winners of the Beefmaster E6/Advancer heifer show are as follows:

  • Grand Champion E6/Advancer Heifer: Salt and Pepper owned by Payton Herzog, Robinson, Texas
  • Reserve Grand Champion E6/Advancer Heifer: Lyssy’s Daisy owned by Emily Paris, Azle, Texas

The winners of the Bred and Owned Bull Show are as follows:

  • Grand Champion Bred and Owned Bull: WR Spark owned by Shawn Skaggs, De Leon, Texas
  • Reserve Grand Champion Bred and Owned Bull: RMW Patron Inferno owned by Reece Wrobleski, Anderson, Texas

The winners of the Bred and Owned Heifer Show are as follows:

  • Grand Champion Bred and Owned Heifer: Caroline’s Charlotte owned by Kalli Ellis, La Ward, Texas
  • Reserve Grand Champion Bred and Owned Heifer: CF Betty Sue owned by Braylee Cowan, Dodd City, Texas

The winners of the JBBA National Heifer Show are as follows:

  • Grand Champion Heifer: -G 16/78 owned by Travis Glaser, Rogers, Texas
  • Reserve Grand Champion Heifer: Caroline’s Charlotte owned by Kalli Ellis, La Ward, Texas

After the heifer show was complete, JBBA members along with their families enjoyed the awards banquet and dance. All winners were announced from the contests and events held throughout the week. Overall awards were given to a JBBA member in each age division, which was determined from points earned throughout the week.

The overall awards were presented to the following JBBA members:

  • Overall Junior: Kayl Tassin, Bush, La.
  • Overall Intermediate: Abigail Hooper, Joaquin, Texas
  • Overall Senior: Amelia Buckley, Collins, Miss.

To round out the evening of awards, over $30,000 in scholarships were awarded to senior JBBA members. Scholarships were awards to the following JBBA members:

  • Brian L. Murphy Memorial Scholarship: Emily Martin of New Ulm, Texas
  • Beefmaster Educational Endowment Foundation (B.E.E.F.) Scholarship: Seth Byers of Decatur, Texas, Hayden Dallmeyer of Poth, Texas, Emily Martin of New Ulm, Texas, Lee Ellen Pearman of Alto, Texas and Kyle Barnett of Decatur, Texas
  • Beefmaster Breeders Cattlewoman Scholarship: Emily Martin of New Ulm, Texas and Kyle Barnett of Decatur, Texas
  • Kenneth Lewis and Robert Miles Memorial JBBA Scholarship: Jolene Bouchard of Azle, Texas, Amanda McCoskey of Simms, Texas, Coby Pritchett of Combine, Texas and Caitlin Vargas of Edinburg, Texas
  • East Texas/Louisiana Marketing Group Scholarship: Emily Martin of New Ulm, Texas, Lee Ellen Pearman of Alto, Texas, Seth Byers of Decatur, Texas and Amanda McCoskey of Simms, Texas

Last but not least, two very important awards were presented to the top hand junior member and top hand volunteers. The JBBA Top Hand Award was presented to Amelia Buckley of Collins, Miss., for all her hard work and passion for the JBBA program. As a recognition of the generous JBBA volunteers, the JBBA Helping Hand Awards were presented to JC and Teri Thompson- T5 Beefmasters of Bedias, Texas and Sheldon and Margaret McManus- SM Beefmasters of Lake Charles, La. Congratulations to all the JBBA members on a great week and thank you to the volunteers and sponsors for the hard work and support that made this event possible.

Mark your calendars for next year’s 34th Annual JBBA National Convention and Shows to be held in Texarkana, Texas from July 15 – 20, 2018.

For more information on the JBBA program call 210-732-3132 or visit Stay connected to BBU through Facebook, follow us on Instagram, view our videos on YouTube, and follow us on Twitter. Receive our news updates through joining our mailing list.

Download winner photos

Beefmaster Breeders United (, located in Boerne, Texas, is a not-for-profit breed registration organization that provides programs and services for its members. Beefmaster, Beefmaster Advancer and E6 cattle are selected on the “Six Essentials” of disposition, fertility, weight, conformation, milk production and hardiness.
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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 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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