As with any successful business endeavor, setting goals and maintaining a program’s health will enhance profitability. Cattle producers and industry professionals explored these aspects of profitability at the “Manage For Profit” symposium that kicked off the annual Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention on June 12 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The “Manage For Profit” symposium brought together experts and leaders of all segments of the beef supply chain to discuss current and futuristic strategies that producers of all sizes could implement to ensure a profitable future. With 110 attendees, 24 states were represented, as well as two countries – Canada and Australia.
Among the experts who presented strategies to help producers maximize their profit were Dr. Bob Weaber, associate professor and extension specialist for Kansas State University. He described the key to cow herd profitability was breeding objectives, and emphasized the importance of using maternal selection tools to select better cows.
“Reproduction is hugely important” said Weaber. “You have to design a breeding objective for your operations [to ensure more profitability].”
Weaber encouraged breeders to design their own breeding objective and include components or goals for their cow herd such as breeding as yearlings and calving unassisted. He also emphasized the importance of economically relevant traits (ERT), such as weaning weight, to a cattle operation’s profitability.
Weaber presented three “Keys to Success” – minimize supplement inputs, optimize the cow as a harvester to the environment, and mate the optimum cow to a sire that maximizes the value of terminal calves.
“Select for traits that impact an endpoint where you generate money,” said Weaber. “If maternal traits are important to you, put pressure on maternal traits.”
Weaber concluded by telling producers to do the easy, effective things first, and then aim for longer term goals, but implement tactics to achieve those goals as soon as possible.
Oklahoma native Dr. Gant Mourer, beef value enhancement specialist for Oklahoma State University, focused on capturing the best value at market time.
According to Mourer, one of those tools includes making sure their animals are healthy.“Health is the No. 1 production problem,” he said.
Ranchers can ensure their animals are healthy at market time and deliver more on the dollar by vaccinating early and regularly. Mourer reported that many operators only vaccinate their calves once in their lifetimes as opposed to boosting those vaccinations multiple times as suggested.
Other ways producers can garner more value from their animals is to adopt Mourer’s “Keys to Capturing Value.” Mourer encouraged cattlemen to eliminate genetic defects, vaccinate regularly, utilize good record keeping to make informed decisions about breeding and culling, and verify management decisions though value-added programs.
Two such value-added programs from which cattlemen can increase their profitability are offered by the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA). The Feeder Calf Certification Program (FCCP) and Allied Access both provide an affordable service for producers as USDA-verified source and age programs. The FCCP is also a USDA-verified genetic program ensuring at least one parent is Red Angus.
Wrapping up the seminar, Troy Applehans, market analyst for CattleFax, reported on the cattle market situation and outlook, and an industry panel addressed profitability questions. Frank Wedel, seedstock producer; Tom Woodward, commercial cow/calf producer; Wes Sander, stocker operator/order buyer; Dale Moore, feedyard operator; and John Butler, CEO of Beef Marketing Group sat on the panel.
Along with RAAA, OKC West Livestock Market, Inc., Oklahoma Red Angus Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association/Oklahoma Cowman and Temple Tag sponsored the symposium.
To learn more about Red Angus’ added value programs, visit RAAA’s website at redangus.org.
Cutline:“Manage For Profit” industry panelists fielded questions about how to make cattle operations profitable and what’s in store for the future of the beef industry. From left to right, Tom Woodward, John Butler, Wes Sander, Moderator Matt Spangler, Frank Wedel and Dale Moore.