Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium Fuels Collaboration to Elevate the Industry
by Megan Underwood, Red Angus Association of America media intern
Boise, Idaho – The 2021 National Red Angus Convention, hosted in Boise, Idaho, featured the Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium, which allowed members to collaborate with industry professionals to elevate the future of the beef industry, not just the Red Angus breed.
Feeder Calf Panel
Emcee Trent Stewart, of Central Oregon Livestock Auction, kicked off the symposium with a feeder calf panel featuring Guthrie Newell of Agri Beef, Brock Hough of Beef Northwest, and Perry Martin of H3 Feeders LLC. These three cattle feeding experts explained how the industry can collaborate to make the “perfect beast” through continuous innovation.
The panel members discussed the two major concerns facing the industry – calf health and carcass quality. Calf health is crucial for profitability as calves must perform on both health and genetic levels. Buyers want to purchase vaccinated calves that come from genetic lines with proven health to meet their maximum genetic potential. The demand for USDA Choice beef is higher today than ever before and the industry needs genetics with excellent carcass quality. Quality grade is colorblind and red cattle can meet the U.S. and export demand.
“When I flip through video catalogs, I look for animal health and familiar cattle. I want to purchase calves who stay healthy, allowing them to achieve their maximum genetic potential. Calves out of the right bulls providing the right genetics and vaccinations are crucial. If they haven’t had a modified-live vaccine, turn the page,” said Hough.
The demand to purchase cattle is high, if buyers do not know about your cattle, they cannot buy your cattle. Advertise your cattle and tell the buyer everything regarding genetics, vaccinations and anything else you believe will help increase your profits.
“You only get one chance a year to sell your calves,” said Newell. “Make it count.”
There are several trends in the cattle industry. The Red Angus breed has focused on producing high-performance sires and maternal cows to meet industry demands. Demand for USDA Choice beef will only continue to increase in the United States. American people have more money in their pockets than ever before and cattlemen need to capitalize on this.
Data collection is essential in advancing the breed. EID tags allow fast transfer of data to allow producers to make quick, critical decisions efficiently. The lack of capacity in packing plants will continue to impact the industry for years to come. One of the industry’s newest phenomena is beef-on-dairy crosses. The trend is huge with highly predictable genetics that allow dairy-crosses to bring a premium due to the advertisement of proven genetics.
Julian Garcia, Beef Northwest CEO, joined the discussion about feedyard uniqueness in the Pacific Northwest. Beef Northwest is a fifth-generation, privately-owned feeding company across Oregon, Washington and California. The operation consists of three feedlots, three grow yards and a pasture facility. Beef Northwest can use potatoes as a unique feedstuff to feed more than 110,000 head annually. When purchasing feeder cattle for Beef Northwest, the essential components are health, proven genetics of any color and the ability to grade USDA Choice or higher.
The labor challenge brought forth a reflection for the company to ask, “What more can we do for our employees?” A company must sustain their employees to sustain the supply chain. The company wants to advance the future of agriculture by investing in youth through internships available in many sectors of the operation.
Garcia left the group with a positive outlook on the industry. “As disposable incomes continue to increase, the demand of U.S. quality beef will continue to increase.”
Cull Cow Panel
The cull cow panel consisting of Trent Stewart, Randy Baxley of Visalia Livestock, and Eric Drees of 7 Rivers Livestock, provoked discussion on the opportunities for producers to add value to their cull cows. Better conditioned, better yielding cows will bring a higher dollar at sale time. Maternal breeds, like Red Angus, have greater opportunities for cull cow sales through the sale of rebreeds. The panel encouraged producers to not disregard the value of young cows due to performance in certain environments. The panel concluded with producers who believe in competition and sell their cows at auction to support the big picture of cull cows, which adds value to this portion of their operations.
“The cull cow market can account from anywhere between 12-20% of a ranch’s bottom line. Cull cows can be an afterthought on the ranch, but they can be an important part of filling that bottom line,” explained Drees.
The symposium concluded with Randall Raymond of Simplot, discussing the effects of feed efficiency in commercial cattle-feeding operations. Simplot calculates the residual feed intake, which is expected dry matter intake independent of growth, that is used to determine if an animal eats more or less than expected. Producers selecting for maternal traits versus terminal traits should weight intake differently in their selections. Genetic progress in feed efficiency requires accurate selection, constant reevaluation and discipline. Feed efficiency drives feedyard profitability, and can be accomplished through industry innovation.
“When selecting for economic return, you cannot select for gain alone,” explained Raymond. “If you are going to select for intake, you must pair it with gain or use something like RFI. When we increase RFI, we can measure things that are recognizable in the sustainability conversation.”
The annual Red Angus Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium was an opportunity for cattle producers to collaborate about new innovations available to them to elevate their operations. By gaining perspective of issues affecting everything from calf health to feedlot efficiency to meeting end consumer demands, commercial cattle producers are better equipped to return to the ranch to make better breeding and management decisions. To learn more about how Red Angus breeders are working hard to meet industry demands, visit RedAngus.org.
The Red Angus Association of America serves the beef industry by enhancing and promoting the measurable advantages of Red Angus and Red Angus-influenced cattle. The RAAA provides commercial producers with objectively described cattle by implementing new technologies and utilizing scientifically sound principles that quantify traits of economic importance to beef producers in all segments of the beef industry. For more information, visit www.RedAngus.org.