USLGE assists Beefmaster breed to grow demand in Thailand over the past decade

by Joe Mask | Published December 20, 2021


U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, Inc. (USLGE) supported Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) in gaining EMP funding of $145K in 2009. The program ran from 2009-2012 to introduce this American breed to beef producers in Thailand. Education to explain Beefmaster benefits was the first step.  Missions for breeders from US to Thai regional cattle shows for local and ag university seminars were conducted and a series of educational articles were developed and published in various journals from 2010 to 2011.  Reverse missions were developed for key Thai breeders and publishers to visit US cattle shows and conduct ranch tours to BBU breeders across Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.

Initial health restrictions for frozen genetics were a restrictive obstacle and extended the time for the Thai DLD to approve our first semen shipment for import permitting.  USLGE worked with BBU for a workshop at Texas A&M University that allowed USDA and US Animal Health Officials work with DLD. This led to acceptance of CSS credentials and streamlined the protocols for testing and export. The work on protocols also affected later live animal export discussions.

The initial semen tank shipped included about 3,200 semen straws from several leading BBU member bulls. Of that amount, 1,000 straws were donated by 10 BBU breeders. Two members agreed to recover the cost of tank and shipping by selling the additional 2,200 straws. DLD assisted in distributing the donated semen to farmers in all provinces of Thailand. The first Beefmaster crossed calf was born in Thailand in December 2010.  As the initial calves matured over the next 2-3 years to deliver progeny for feeding and harvest, the demand outpaced supply.

Some breeders distributed the semen over 2-3 years, so the returns began around 2015-2016 when the mature calves started to be harvested. Breed demand strengthened during that period with live cattle coming into demand and live animal exports becoming the norm for the more influential breeders in the years to follow. Thai breeders started importing live animals in 2015. Most of the live animals were show animals from major cattle shows in USA.  As the cattle adapted well in Thailand, the shipments grew from a couple of large pallets of 6-8 head to mature bulls, pairs, bred and open heifers in packages of 100 or more per shipment.

DLD government assistance procurement has solicited 5-8 bids of 10,000 semen straws per year over the past 2-5 years, in addition to private semen sales. The pricing is usually $8-10 per straw. Elgin Breeding Service is the primary US shipper to Thailand, and they have reported that the shipments are becoming regular for individual breeders and Thai breeder associations.

In 2020, farmers and Dept of Livestock Development imported over 100 live animals and 10,000 units of semen. Top genomic seedstock are now in demand with export and cargo value exceeding $1 million for livestock and $250,000 for frozen genetics (semen and embryos) since 2009. 2020 exports were up to $920,450.00 and year to date 2021 reported sales from 5 producers total over $1.7 million and growing.

None of this could be possible without the funding provided by FAS and cooperation between USLGE and BBU. This FAS funded project has been used as a model for projects in other countries. FAS funding allowed BBU to develop a new method of breed introduction that is improving exports to other countries by BBU.

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