7 Good Reasons to Improve
Compiled by: RAAA Commercial Marketing Staff
Harold Bertz, Katie Martin, Nolan Woodruff and Barrett Simon
Red Angus breeders spend an enormous amount of time, management and resources improving their herds. They do this for many reasons, seven of which are outlined below. These seven reasons are, by no means, the only reasons to improve one’s herd but are a solid set to begin with. The marketing team collaborated to provide some insight on these seven reasons. Katie Martin addressed the initial two points, Barrett Simon the next two, Harold Bertz with the fifth reason and Nolan Woodruff defined the final two.
1. Keeping up with the Competition
“No matter how good you are, there’s always going to be someone better.” My late grandmother spoke these words to me several times over the years, and though they may have seemed harsh in my youth, her reasoning in offering the advice was to remind me to always strive to be better and never stop improving. Our goal as beef cattle producers should always be to make the upcoming calf crop better than the last. Constant genetic improvement is essential to operate a successful livestock enterprise. Without forward progress, the harsh truth is that you will be pushed out of the seedstock business by those who are willing to put in the effort to improve their herd.
2. Serving Your Customers Better
Simply put, the ultimate role of a seedstock producer is to satisfy the customer. Customers make or break a seedstock business. Personally, I gauge the success of any seedstock operation by the quantity of repeat customers that operation generates. When making breeding decisions, seedstock producers must first and foremost consider the needs and goals of their customers. Just as seedstock operations compete among each other, their customers are also facing intense competition. Commercial cattlemen rely on genetic improvements made on the seedstock level, so they can remain competitive on the commercial level. If a seedstock producer fails to meet those demands, the customer will find another genetic provider.
3. Stewardship & Sustainability
Regardless of where a livestock operation falls in respect to business model, geographical location, or size and scale, the core of our success revolves around utilization of resources. We are, first and foremost, stewards of the land on which our ranch resides. Practicing good stewardship of our land resources will ultimately improve sustainability of the operation. By objectively identifying strengths and weaknesses of our cow herd, we create the opportunity to match genetic potential to the environment. This ultimately allows us to optimize production of both the land and livestock.
4. Increase Profitability
Dr. Clay Mathis, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, recently described sustainability as a “triple bottom line” in the 2020 Beef Improvement Federation’s virtual symposium. After establishing environmental stewardship as one component, we can turn our attention towards the second factor: profitability. In order for any ranch to be truly sustainable, it must be able to support a living for those in the management role. Genetic improvements that yield a heavier calf crop, enhanced fertility, or overall longevity of our cow herd are often associated with a price; however, desirable genetics should always be considered an investment as opposed to a cost.
5. Feelings of Accomplishment
Most seedstock producers grew up reciting the 4-H motto: To Make the Best Better. This simple motto instilled in us the mindset that we are constantly striving to create a better Red Angus animal. It takes an incredible amount of intrinsic motivation to spend the time, resources and commitment to create a better animal every generation. Though our ultimate goal is the extrinsic motivator profitability, each of us finds personal satisfaction in raising an animal that excels its parents and/or herd mates or a group of calves that outperforms the mean in multiple traits.
6. Benefiting the Beef Business
Seedstock producers strive each day to make a better Red Angus cow. By continually taking steps to create a better animal, producers are making all beef cattle better. Specifically, on the carcass side, producers are selecting for carcass merit which will improve beef quality grades as time progresses. Focusing on creating better beef animals that are more efficient with elevated fertility and improved carcass merit not only benefits the producer, but the beef business as a whole.
7. Giving the Next Generation Something Even Better to Build on
One very important trait that has been instilled in many producers from a young age is to leave everything better than you found it and return everything in better condition than you received it. This applies to passing genetics, land and resources on to those who are going to continue the legacy of each operation. Passing on a herd that is better than you started with and giving the next generation a chance to keep improving the land and livestock is a satisfying way to pass the herd along.
Just as each member of our team gravitated to different subtopics in this article, it is likely that seedstock and commercial producers place varying levels of importance on these seven reasons. As Red Angus builds on the largest market share we have ever seen, it becomes relevant to remember the quote “What got us here, won’t get us there.” Working both individually and on behalf of the breed as a whole, producers and members have multiple incentives to continue herd improvement. As members take that charge, the reputation of Red Angus cattle will be enhanced and we will see increased utilization of the breed in all sectors of the beef supply chain.