Quality genetics and thoughtful selection are king
Program cattle verified and marketed reflect a marriage between what some consumers and producers mutually value. At Superior’s Week in the Rockies sale, program cattle topped the sale, including several loads from Brush, Colo.’s Leo Basler and Sons, Ed and Leslie Basler, and Basler Ranch and Hermes Genetics. The SimAngus steers weighing 640 brought in $175 per cwt.
According to Superior representative Ken Odle, there can be a great deal of value in programs but, like demonstrated by the Basler loads, quality genetics and thoughtful selection are king. Right now, the greatest return is being seen on vaccination programs and the NHTC Natural and GAP programs, especially in high quality cattle.
“In addition to all these programs, you’ve got to have genetic structure in your cattle first and foremost,” Odle said. “If you don’t have good genetics, all the programs go to waste.”
Odle said Simmental and SimAngus genetics are coming to the top, something he said he can see when he’s videoing the cattle prior to the sale. Performance on feed is making both the Simmentals and Red Angus some of the highest selling breeds. He said the amount of research producers are investing into sire and dam selection is translating to dollars.
“What buyers are looking at is that someone is really taking the time to study the bull power they’re buying and they’re not just going to a sale and buying value-based bulls because they’re cheap,” he said. “They’re moving in a direction of some type of genetic structure and program. We’re not just all black, we’re black with a purpose or red with a purpose.”
A uniform cow herd and uniform bull battery, he said, produce consistent calves that perform together up until harvest. In Basler’s cattle, represented by Odle, he said they’ve found a sire set that perform well in the feedyard and they’re sticking with it, with their customers reaping the benefits on the scale.
Odle said the majority of program cattle sold on the video service are in the end user’s hands, reducing trucking in many cases, and along with it, stress and shrink.
According to Jerald Raymond with Select Sires, Beef Quality Assurance training is a growing value-added program that also increases consumer confidence in producers’ end product. Raymond said he recertified his BQA training at the Week in the Rockies sale. The training took less than three hours and he said it was well worth the effort and he appreciated the professional approach taken by the trainers from Colorado State University. He said some consumer outlets are accepting only beef from BQA certified packers, and in turn, packers only accepting cattle from certified feedlots. He said he anticipates that it will continue to trickle down to cow calf operators.
The programs, he said, protect good genetics, adding consumer confidence through best practices already in use. Ranchers have been doing the production practices touted in the BQA program without advertising it, he said, and are now able to potentially drive value.
Raymond said he hopes the BQA program isn’t mandated but rather an option for producers to elect. Vaccination programs and NHTC Natural, he said, protect good genetics and increase consumer confidence.
Raymond said conversations with bull customers are adding research and genetic selection into their purchasing decisions more than in previous years. He said hybrid vigor is important to add back into the nation’s cowherd, something he’s seeing more of.
“There’s a lot of directions you can go with a baldy cow,” he said. “You can go Continental, back to black. One of the strong suits of the Simmentals is the good feet and legs and that’s going to be more important in the future.” ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.