Posted October 3, 2018
DENVER – The theme for the Red Angus Association of America’s annual Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium was “Ahead of the Curve” and the speakers and overall program delivered an immense package of business information to attendees.
The symposium, which served as the kickoff to the 65thannual National Red Angus Convention, held Sept. 12-14 in Watertown, South Dakota, was attended by more than 300 cattlemen and women seeking to increase their understanding of various aspects of the beef industry, including DNA technology, feedyard management, animal welfare and the production of high-quality beef. Additionally, the program featured a producer panel and a live DNA tissue collection demonstration sponsored by Allflex and GeneSeek.
The day began with a keynote lecture from Dr. Stewart Bauck of Neogen, who spoke about applying DNA technology to commercial cattle production. Bauck explained the history of DNA testing, its development in beef cattle and discussed how the industry is making genetic progress at a faster rate than ever before. Bauck stressed the importance of selecting bulls that have been genomically tested on economically important traits. He also spoke about the importance of gathering genetic data from calves and how that can reap benefits further down the line.
“A day-old calf’s genomic data is equivalent to a lifetime of data. Furthermore, the quality of your calves is a direct reflection of the genetics you utilize,” said Bauck.
In closing, Bauck explained the last 15 years of DNA technology have been a whirlwind of development; prediction accuracy and processing speed have increased, cost has decreased and the process is more robust. He predicted the future of DNA technology will be widely adopted by feedyards, which may alter cattle management practices according to DNA profiles.
Continuing the discussion regarding feedyards, John Schroeder of Darr Feedlot in Cozad, Nebraska, shared with producers his goals and objectives for producing high-quality beef.
“Our goal is to produce quality beef that is cost effective in order to feed a hungry world. Quality, in this setting, means beef that is safe, from a humanely handled animal, that grades upper 2/3 Choice,” said Schroeder.
However, Schroeder maintained that “Upper 2/3 Choice isn’t unique anymore, it’s actually the minimum, and low Choice is the new Select grade beef.”
Schroeder advised cow-calf producers that wish to earn premiums on their cattle to pay attention to important management tactics such as well-planned nutrition, top-notch animal welfare and a good health and vaccination program. Additionally, taking advantage of traceability programs and ensuring a proper weaning protocol can set up cattle for success in the feedlot, which translates to success for the producer.
“By thinking like a buyer instead of a seller, producers can begin to understand what practices and steps they should be implementing to garner premiums.”
The final speaker on the agenda, Brian Bertelsen, vice president of field operations for U.S. Premium Beef, discussed premiums for quality beef and the necessity of paying attention to genetics for feeding cattle to Choice and Prime. Bertelsen attested that he would love to see an oversupply of premium beef and it would be a problem he would welcome.
“The fact of the matter is that the better your genetics are for marbling, the more you should consider feeding your cattle longer,” Bertelsen said, a piece of advice that resonated with the crowd.
Bertelson explained there will be continued rewards for beef that has significant marbling, is marketed through a branded program, has better genetics or incorporates traceability and source verification. Furthermore, he greatly stressed the importance of providing high-quality beef to consumers.
“Low-quality beef is still higher priced that other competing proteins. It’s already a luxury item so we need it to provide a great eating experience,” Bertelsen expounded, “and the industry is finding great ways to reach increased amounts of quality beef using current technology.”
Additionally, he advised that producers should be prepared for verification processes to take information-backed beef to the next level including BQA requirements, traceability implementation and animal welfare verification.
Interwoven through the program was a producer panel composed of Bob Yackley, Wade Moser and Nolan Stone.
Bob Yackley is co-owner of Yackley Ranches and has spent his life in the beef industry as both a commercial cattleman and seedstock producer. He is also a co-owner of the Yackley/TransOva Embryo collection center near Onida, South Dakota, and manages the day-to-day activities of the center.
Wade Moser previously led the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association as its executive vice president for 26 years, before retiring in 2008 and has been a commercial cattlemen his entire life. He has also developed bred heifers for more than 30 years and is a U.S. Army veteran.
Nolan Stone has spent his entire career in the cattle feeding business, first as a manager of a 100,000-head feedyard and most recently at the helm of his own cattle procurement business, S Equal Cattle Company. He has also served as the president of the Colorado Livestock Association and is a board member of the Colorado Beef Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
These experienced cattlemen offered their insight on the topics of the day and how each speaker’s message affected the cow-calf segment and, more specifically, their own operation.
The annual Red Angus Association of America Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium is highly anticipated feature of the National Red Angus Convention and attracts producers from multiple states who wish to hear the industry’s latest updates in the areas of genetics, nutrition, management and other educational business management topics. The 2019 National Red Angus Convention and Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium will be in Dubuque, Iowa, September 11-13, 2019.
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.
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October 3, 2018
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Dr. Stewart Bauck, Neogen, discusses DNA testing and technology development at the RAAA's Commercial Cattlemen's Symposium in Watertown, South Dakota.