Photo caption: The American Gelbvieh Association named Blackhawk Cattle Company, Oregon, Illinois, the AGA Breeder of the year for 2019. Skyler (middle) and Annette Martin (left) were presented the award by Stuart Jarvis, Phillipsburg, Kansas, (right).
Skyler and Annette Martin of Blackhawk Cattle Company, Oregon, Illinois, were honored as the American Gelbvieh Association’s (AGA) Breeder of the Year for 2019 during the awards banquet held at the 49th Annual AGA National Convention in Billings, Montana.
Skyler and Annette were present at the AGA awards banquet to accept the award. Stuart Jarvis, Bar Arrow Cattle Co., Phillipsburg, Kansas, presented the Martin couple with the award.
Blackhawk Cattle Company has been a member of the AGA since 1985. Currently, the operation consists of 130 registered Gelbvieh and Balancer® cows and extensively utilizes artificial insemination and embryo transfer. With a focus on quality seedstock and an eye toward the commercial beef industry and the feedyard sector, Blackhawk Cattle Company understands the profit drivers throughout the beef supply chain.
Skyler’s goals for the seedstock operation have always centered on performance and quality from conception to consumption. In fact, Blackhawk Cattle Company has a bid/buy back program to purchase local bull customers’ feeder calves.
The family’s connectivity to the beef industry stretches beyond the seedstock sector. The Martins are also involved in Nordman Feedlots, which is a family business from Annette’s side of the family.
The Martins, their seven children included, have also seen success at major shows across the country. Showing was their way to get the next generation further involved in the Gelbvieh business.
Skyler is a former AGA Board of Directors member and is currently active on the American Gelbvieh Foundation Steer Challenge and Scale and Rail contest committee. He is also a past board member of the Gelbvieh Breeders of Iowa organization.
The NAILE Gelbvieh and Balancer® show took place at the 2019 North American International Livestock Exposition on Wednesday, November 20. Jerry Grund, Sharon Springs, Kansas, evaluated the Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle.
The grand champion Gelbvieh female was CRAN Fiona F812 ET, owned by Casey Martin of Oregon, Ill. This female first claimed the Gelbvieh junior heifer division and is sired by CIRS Overdrive 2207Z.
MDR Gemma Okie 902G was named reserve grand champion Gelbvieh female and is owned by Maya Carroll, Raymore, Mo. This heifer is the daughter of JRI Oklahoma 246C4 and was first named champion of the Gelbvieh junior heifer calf division.
The grand champion Gelbvieh bull was awarded to GGGE 3G Grand Entry 933G owned by Emily Griffiths of Kendallville, Ind. This bull is sired by GGGE 3G Zip Line 266Z and first claimed the Gelbvieh junior bull calf division.
The reserve grand champion Gelbvieh bull went to GHGF Man O’ War F825 sired by GHGF Cow Town D536. This bull, owned by Austin Teeter of Mount Ulla, N.C., was first named champion of the Gelbvieh junior bull division.
Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind., owned the grand champion Balancer female, GGGE 3G Glass Slipper 940G. This heifer, sired by GGGE 3G Big Star 487B, received champion in the Balancer junior heifer calf division.
The reserve grand champion Balancer female went to PMCJ PMFG Foxy Lady 853F owned by Clayton Jones, Glasgow, Ky. This heifer is sired by PVF Insight 0129 and first claimed the Balancer senior heifer calf division.
After first claiming the Balancer junior bull calf division, GGGE 3G Ghost Town 913 G, sired by Baldridge 38 Special C040 received grand champion Balancer bull. This bull is owned by Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind. who has received this award for the third year in a row.
KBIT B-Factor E26 was named reserve grand champion Balancer bull and is owned by Aaron Bitzer, Shelbyville, Ky. This bull is sired by SDCG X-Factor 202X and first claimed the Balancer senior bull division.
2019 NAILE Gelbvieh and Balancer® Show
November 20, 2019
Judge: Jerry Grund, Sharon Springs, Kansas
Division Champions and Reserves:
Gelbvieh Champion Spring Heifer Calf : RBLG Bee Lick D.C. Ginger G926; The Day Farms, Manitou, Ky.; Sire: GGGE 3G Die Cast 637D
Gelbvieh Champion Junior Heifer Calf: MDR Gemma Okie 902G; Maya Carroll, Raymore, Mo.; Sire: JRI Oklahoma 246C4
Gelbvieh Reserve Champion Junior Heifer Calf: CIRS 11G; Circle S Ranch, Canton, Kan.: Sire: DCSF Post Rock Power Built 37B8
Gelbvieh Champion Senior Heifer Calf: BCFG Butlers 134F; Clint Main, Seymour, Ind.; Sire: JKGF Reflex X4 ET
Gelbvieh Reserve Champion Senior Heifer Calf: BCFG Butlers Ms Faye 908F ET; Butler Creek Farms, Milton, Tenn.; Sire: FMGF Blue’s Impact 001X
Gelbvieh Champion Intermediate Heifer: GHGF Lass 261F; Alexandria Raab, Markle, Ind.; Sire: FMGF Blue’s Impact 001X
Gelbvieh Champion Junior Heifer: CRAN Fiona F812 ET; Casey Martin, Oregon, Ill.; Sire: CIRS Overdrive 2207Z
Gelbvieh Reserve Champion Junior Heifer: GGGE 3G Frankly My Dear 8100F; Davidson Show Cattle, Duncan, S.C. and Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: GGGE 3G Zip Line 266Z
Gelbvieh Champion Cow-Calf Pair: JENJ Miss JENJ 605D ET; The Day Farms Manitou, Ky.; Sire: ALS Maverick 70T
Grand Champion Gelbvieh Female: CRAN Fiona F812 ET; Casey Martin, Oregon, Ill.; Sire: CIRS Overdrive 2207Z
Reserve Grand Champion Gelbvieh Female: MDR Gemma Okie 902G; Maya Carroll, Raymore, Mo.; Sire; JRI Oklahoma 246C4
Balancer Champion Spring Heifer Calf: GCRK 903G; Molly Anderson, Marion, N.C.; Sire: SAC Conversation JS02
Balancer Reserve Champion Spring Heifer Calf: CNGW GF Lexi’s Addiction GFG01; Hannah Wooten, Starr, S.C.; Sire: SAV Brilliance 8077
Balancer Champion Junior Heifer Calf: GGGE 3G Glass Slipper 940G; Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: GGGE 3G Big Star 487B
Balancer Reserve Champion Junior Heifer Calf: BCFG Butlers Ms. Greta 730F; Butler Creek Farms, Milton, Tenn.; Sire: BCFG Butlers Bismarck 512Z
Balancer Champion Senior Heifer Calf: PMCJ PMFG Foxy Lady 853F; Clayton Jones, Glasgow, Ky.; Sire: PVF Insight 0129
Balancer Reserve Champion Senior Heifer Calf: GHGF 855F; Green Hills Gelbvieh, Mount Ulla, N.C.; Sire: Gambles Hot Rod 9620
Balancer Champion Junior Heifer: RAAB BCFG Ms. Farah 24F ET; Karley Rumfelt, Phillipsburg, Mo.; SAV Brilliance 8077
Balancer Champion Senior Heifer: GHGF Evonka 301E; Austin Teeter, Mount Ulla, N.C.; Sire: GHGF C303
Grand Champion Balancer Female: GGGE 3G Glass Slipper 940G; Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: GGGE 3G Big Star 487B
Reserve Grand Champion Balancer Female: PMCJ PMFG Foxy Lady 853F; Clayton Jones, Glasgow, Ky.; Sire: PVF Insight 0129
Gelbvieh Champion Junior Bull Calf: GGGE 3G Grand Entry 933G; Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: GGGE 3G Zip Line 266Z
Gelbvieh Reserve Champion Junior Bull Calf: CIRS 22YG; Circle S Ranch, Canton, Kan.; Sire: DCSF Post Rock Power Built 37B8
Gelbvieh Champion Senior Bull Calf: PCFS Brace For Impact 1-1F; Sidney Parris, Canton, N.C.; Sire: CCCJ CCC Mr Impact Z204
Gelbvieh Champion Intermediate Bull: DFGC Lil Ed 620F; The Day Farms, Manitou, Ky.; Sire: FMGF Blue’s Impact 001X
Gelbvieh Champion Junior Bull: GHGF Man O’ War F825; Austin Teeter, Mount Ulla, N.C.; Sire: GHGF Cow Town D536
Grand Champion Gelbvieh Bull: GGGE 3G Grand Entry 933G; Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: GGGE 3G Zip Line 266Z
Reserve Grand Champion Gelbvieh Bull: GHGF Man O’ War F825; Austin Teeter, Mount Ulla, N.C.; Sire: GHGF Cow Town D536
Balancer Champion Junior Bull Calf: GGGE 3G Ghost Town 913G; Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: Baldridge 38 Special C040
Balancer Champion Senior Bull Calf: CTTK Firewater F27; TB Cattle Company, Shelbyville, Ky.; Sire: CTTK Southern Lights B149
Balancer Champion Senior Bull: KBIT B-Factor E26; Aaron Bitzer, Shelbyville, Ky.; Sire: SDCG X-Factor 202X
Grand Champion Balancer Bull: GGGE 3G Ghost Town 913G; Emily Griffiths, Kendallville, Ind.; Sire: Baldridge 38 Special C040
Reserve Grand Champion Balancer Bull: KBIT B-Factor E26; Aaron Bitzer, Shelbyville, Ky.; Sire: SDCG X-Factor 202X
The American Gelbvieh Association is a progressive beef cattle breed association representing 1,000 members and approximately 40,000 cows assessed annually in a performance-oriented total herd reporting system.
The Junior Gelbvieh and Balancer® Heifer Show at the American Royal was held on Saturday, October 19, 2019, in Kansas City, Missouri. Judge Callahan Grund, Sharon Springs, Kansas, evaluated the Gelbvieh and Balancer heifers.
Grand champion heifer was DTKF Destiny’s Cash 211F, owned by Teaghan Bird, Hampton, Iowa. This heifer is the daughter of Barstow Cash Y18 and first claimed the Gelbvieh and Balancer junior yearling heifer division.
Brittany Anderson of Ash Grove, Missouri, owns the reserve grand champion heifer. TGV T Bar S Claire 138F is the daughter of Stevenson Weigh Up 41163 and first claimed the Gelbvieh and Balancer senior heifer calf division.
2019 American Royal Gelbvieh and Balancer® Junior Heifer Show
October 19, 2019
Kansas City, Missouri
Judge: Callahan Grund, Sharon Springs, Kansas
Division Champions and Reserves:
Champion Spring Heifer Calf: GGGE 3G Ginger Snap 996G; Taylor Martins, Monona, Iowa; Sire: GGGE 3G Big Star 487B
Reserve Champion Spring Heifer Calf: KKKG Triple K Glory Grace D37G; Nick Doering, Basehor, Kan.; Sire: HIGH Mr Branded Man 9E26 ET
Champion Junior Heifer Calf: MDR Gemma 902G; Maya Carroll, Raymore, Mo.; Sire: JRI Oklahoma 246C4
Reserve Champion Junior Heifer Calf: SOC Miss Lifeline 9757G ET; Jacie Carroll, Raymore, Mo.; Sire: EGL Lifeline B101
Champion Senior Heifer Calf: TGV T Bar S Claire 138F; Brittany Anderson, Ash Grove, Mo.; Sire: Stevenson Weigh Up 41163
Reserve Champion Senior Heifer Calf: JNCC GDN Miss Julia 8107F; Cameron Nowack, Bland, Mo.; Sire: TJ Z54
Champion Intermediate Heifer: MDGG Josie Jo 214F; Mitch Garcia, Las Animas, Colo.; Sire: VRT Lazy TV Sam U451
Reserve Champion Intermediate Heifer: RLBG Miss Noxie CF07; Regan Clines, Springfield, Mo.; Sire: RLBG Consensus C026 ET
Champion Junior Yearling Heifer: DTKF Destiny’s Cash 211F; Teaghan Bird, Hampton, Iowa; Sire: Barstow Cash Y18
Reserve Champion Junior Yearling Heifer: MDGG Black Friday 1124F; Mitch Garcia, Las Animas, Colo.; Sire: H2R Profitbuilder B403
Grand Champion Heifer: DTKF Destiny’s Cash 211F; Teaghan Bird, Hampton, Iowa; Barstow Cash Y18
Reserve Grand Champion Heifer: TGV T Bar S Claire 138F; Brittany Anderson, Ash Grove, Mo.; Sire: Stevenson Weigh Up 41163
AGA recently held the 47th Annual National Convention. All who attended the event left with a clear vision of the future of the Gelbvieh and Balancer business. Growing pains surrounding the
implementation of genomics were discussed. However, the future is incredible with the promise of BOLT, the single-step genetic evaluation, and all it can offer the largest beef animal database in the world in which Gelbvieh is a part of. Attendees also got a look at how Gelbvieh and Balancer fit into the beef industry and uphold the standards discovered in the National Beef Quality Audit. Marketing alliances with industry leaders like Superior Livestock Auction, Western Video Market, and Cattle Country Video were a few companies mentioned. The current breed growth and membership growth that the AGA is experiencing further validates that our Meeting Modern Industry Demands strategic plan is focusing on the needs of every breeder involved. The strategic plan is further positioning Gelbvieh and Balancer as a leader and with everyone pulling on the same end of the rope, such cooperation will continue to strengthen our position and enlarge Gelbvieh critical mass.
Science continues to drive the industry, but it is proven that on-ranch data is imperative for the technology to continue. In visiting with a friend of mine, Dan Warner, we were trying to think outside the box for being a leader in breed growth without slowing generational turn around. I wanted to share this idea with you to spark your imagination. The idea we were working on was collecting 20 oocytes from a set of known females, mating to 20 different sires, performing a biopsy on each embryo to gather genomic information for the more difficult to collect data, e.g., carcass data. In the discussion, let’s take it one step further and implant those embryos into recipient cows, grow and harvest all progeny and collect all phenotypes from birth to harvest. Wow! We
could excel all other breeds for data collection, validate genomics like no other, and set Gelbvieh and Balancer up to meet the modern industry expectations for reliable genetic prediction and be at the forefront of global marketing. This is the shortened version of all we talked about, but we should all have the goal of keeping our breed, operation, and ourselves viable into the future.
No matter if you’re a commercial or registered producer, we all have the same goal: an unmatched beef eating experience. The U.S. beef industry owns the high quality beef sector on a global scale. Much of this achievement is due to our infrastructure of having the genetics, feeding capabilities, and harvest facilities all with the safety that is second to no other country. We need to keep the foot on the accelerator to keep this global edge. One way to help keep the competition at bay is to get out and search for breed leading genetics that fit into the environment and the much bigger picture of the beef industry. If we keep the big picture as a goal, we will find our target. Don’t get caught up on the little things, we must have our commercial producers’ target in mind when we make all mating decisions. As technology advances, they will have individual data on every operation in the U.S., and let me tell you the more advanced harvest and feeding facilities already do! So get out and find the industry-leading Gelbvieh and Balancer genetics that will take us to the target.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes to ponder:
• Communication is a must; 90 percent of being married is shouting, “WHAT!?” from another room.
• Whenever you feel like giving up, think of all the people that would love to see you fail.
• “It’s better to change and fail than to attempt to hold the status quo.” – TD Jakes
Knowledge is power. How many times have you heard that in your lifetime? How many times have you seen it come to fruition? Knowledge about an industry, a specific subject, or whatever is usually what gives people the power to succeed. How do you acquire knowledge?
I am sure that I would hear a different response from everyone. But what it really boils down to is that you acquire knowledge by being studious. You take the time to read, to listen, to absorb, to think, and then put it into practice.
So why am I talking about knowledge? Well, we are coming up on the spring bull sale season and there is a lot of data that goes into putting a bull sale together. When you print your catalog,
you probably have expected progeny differences (EPDs), some genomic-enhanced EPDs, percentile rankings (at least I hope all seedstock suppliers print percentile rankings), and ratios. But, what good is data if no one understands it?
The beef industry continues to advance and finds more ways to select for higher quality genetics and as a result we have an ever-growing repertoire of genetic selection tools. How many of your
commercial producers fully understand how to effectively utilize those genetic tools? That is where you, the seedstock supplier, can give the gift of knowledge.
Educating your customers on the genetic tools you offer is one of the best things you can do from a customer service standpoint. You want them to be able to make educated decisions when they are buying your bulls. The more knowledge commercial producers have, the better they will be able to select bulls and manage their cowherds. Is it not one of the goals of the beef industry, which you are apart of, to make the fastest genetic progress possible? If your commercial customers understand EPDs, know that genomics enhance the reliability of EPDs, and why you print ratios for weights rather than actual weights, then they can help move the industry closer to that goal of genetic progress.
So how many opportunities do you have to educate your customers? Well, you have your catalog, for one. I know that adding more pages to your catalog can increase the cost, but I would encourage every seedstock producer to have a page explaining what each EPD is and its intended use. Also, a great time to visit with your customers is the night before the sale. Many of them are traveling in the day before to look at the bulls first thing in the morning so why not take that opportunity to hold a free dinner the night before; everyone likes free food. This provides a great opportunity to go over your process for selecting the genetics and other relevant information. Bull delivery is another opportunity to visit with customers and answer any questions they have.
Of course, not one of your customers is like the other. There are varying levels of knowledge so you will have to adjust your conversations accordingly to ensure that you are giving them the gift of knowledge.
Now, in order for you to give the gift of knowledge, you must possess that knowledge first. Giving yourself the gift of knowledge is also very valuable. Educate yourself on what is happening in the industry. Read those magazine articles, attend meetings within your county or state, read the proceedings and attend the Beef Improvement Federation annual convention, attend the national conventions of your breed association. Do all that you can to understand all the aspects of our industry.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
The American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) provides opportunities for youth to grow as leaders. Through participation in contests and providing an environment in which the kids are
encouraged to develop relationships with other members, many skills are developed that will help them in positions of leadership. The demand for youth involvement is high, and the
future of the beef industry relies on those willing to take the lead. Youth organizations such as AGJA do just that by offering different contests for juniors to participate in, allowing
them to choose ones that will highlight their strengths and improve their weaknesses. For example, participation in quiz bowl allows juniors to educate themselves on various topics pertaining to
the beef industry, providing them with the knowledge to educate those who may not know much about livestock. Team fitting also helps juniors by giving them the opportunity to take charge, to do what they are good at, and to highlight the strengths of other teammates, ultimately creating a strong team that works together to be successful. These contests further assist in developing skills that will shape good leaders and advocates of the beef industry.
It is important to participate in youth organizations to build relationships and to gain experiences that allow kids to learn and thrive. It is members of these organizations that are responsible
for maintaining the integrity of the livestock industry. Association conventions and junior shows provide a forum where breed members can come together to bring up issues and to improve the organization as a whole, allowing for each voice to be heard.
Every leader begins as a follower. It is entirely up to an individual as to whether or not they choose to reach their full potential as a leader. The AGJA strives to build a network of future leaders that will make good decisions and to be the voice for the beef industry. You do not have to have a fancy title to be able to call yourself a leader. The AGJA encourages you to take every chance to develop your skills and to grow as a young person in agriculture. Participating in the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, is a great place to start, and I hope to see you there!
Ode To A Cow
By Unknown Author • The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1936
When life seems one too many for you,
Go and look at a cow.
When the future’s black and the outlook blue,
Go and look at a cow.
For she does nothing but eat her food,
And sleep in the meadows entirely nood,
Refusing to fret or worry or brood
Because she doesn’t know how.
Whenever you’re feeling bothered and sore,
Go and look at a cow.
When everything else is a fearful bore,
Go and look at a cow.
Observe her gentle and placid air,
Her nonchalance and savoir faire,
Her absolute freedom from every care,
Her imperturbable brow.
So when you’re at the end of your wits,
Go and look at a cow.
Or when your nerves are frayed to bits,
And wrinkles furrow your brow;
She’ll merely moo in her gentle way,
Switching her rudder as if to say:
“Bother tomorrow! Let’s live today!”
Take the advice of a cow.
Although I don’t believe that “the future’s black, and the outlook blue”, the “Ode To A Cow” reminds me that while very rewarding, production agriculture also can be very challenging.
Extreme weather conditions, increased price volatility, and compressed profit margins are just a few of the obstacles that producers are faced with today. Many of these circumstances are beyond any of our control, and to say the least, it can be frustrating at times. Focusing on management areas where good decision making can have meaningful impact is crucial to improving the profit potential.
In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen R. Covey writes “Our unique human endowments lift us above the animal world. The extent to which we exercise and develop these endowments empowers us to fulfill our uniquely human potential. Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose.”
Unlike the cow in the poem, who is just living for today, we can make meaningful, proactive choices today that improve our operations for tomorrow and for years to come.
This summer a cattle producer told me something that went like this, “I don’t want to work for my cows. I want my cows to work for me!”
This mindset is influencing his decisions for genetic and phenotypic selection with the intent of improving his efficiency and ultimately improving his bottom line, which is something all cattle producers should strive to accomplish.
Many of the commercial cow-calf producers that I’ve had the opportunity to visit this summer are choosing Gelbvieh and Balancer® genetics because those cows “work for them.”
“Choose Gelbvieh” is the theme of the most recently released “The American Rancher” episode that aired last month. Maternal superiority summarizes many attributes of the Gelbvieh and Balancer cows that contribute to those cows working for these commercial cattlemen. Fertility, maternal ability, efficiency, and stayability are all very important traits in a mother cow. Many producers want these traits to come in a moderate sized, structurally sound and docile package that is consistent with the visual created in the Ode above. While the cow appears placid and
nonchalant, she just as well be working hard for her owner!
Genetics that work for you should reduce your inputs, hopefully reduce your stress, and increase your profit potential. As seedstock suppliers, the product that you’re selling needs to work for your customers. Keep striving to produce genetics that will work better for your commercial customers, and help them reach their goals. Ultimately, you and your customers have a common goal of producing a safe, nutritional and wholesome product that culminates in the best eating experience for consumers around the world!
Hi, everyone! Hope you are having a great fall thus far. I know it’s a busy time of year, but I wanted to discuss a little bit about junior livestock shows. Most local and state fairs are winding
up by this point, and our juniors have represented well. I have been fortunate enough this fall to travel to a lot of fairs and shows, and I have to say, it is always refreshing to see our Gelbvieh breed
represented at those shows.
I think that it is very important for our American Gelbvieh Junior Association members to attend local and state shows. While we all love our AGJA Junior Classic and other national shows, and enjoy being around our Gelbvieh family, these mixed breed shows are the best time to promote the breed.
Living in Oklahoma for the past three years, I’ve been able to attend a lot more junior livestock shows. What I’ve noticed from these shows is that whether we’re talking about kids from the same FFA or 4-H chapter, or kids that have never met, they seem to create friendships at these shows. From this, families and different breeds start mingling and people start seeing other people’s cattle. I can say it’s true for Oklahoma at least, but when this happens the quality Gelbvieh cattle that juniors bring to these shows always impress them. This leads to great promotion for the breed.
I know some more local shows fire back up in the spring, so just some thoughts to keep in mind. The more we can display and exhibit our cattle around the local, state, or national level, the
more promotion it offers for the breed. And while the American Royal is now behind us, the fall and winter will be filled with the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, and the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, which showcases the breed at the National Gelbvieh and Balancer National Show.
In early August, the American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) joined forces with the American Junior Shorthorn Association and the American Junior Simmental Association to put on a unique leadership conference in the beef industry called The Summit. Over 85 members from these organizations came together as strangers and left as friends and contacts they’ll have forever in the livestock industry. I could write in length about the impact this had on the participants’ AGJA experience and their lives going forward within the field of agriculture.
At the beginning of the conference the organizers split the larger group into smaller groups to intermix participants from each breed. For the next three days, these small groups worked as a team and interacted on a more personal level as well as the large group. To kick off the conference, Tom Field, Ph.D., director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, really set the tone with a speech about the future. He spoke about the exciting things the program is doing to help students jumpstart their small business ideas in agriculture,
to chase their vision and dream, and never give up. Maddy Ruble from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also explained how NCBA goes about interacting with consumers as they move forward in a world that’s further and further removed from production agriculture. But, the most fun of the day might have come with a choreographed lip-sync performance/competition between the small groups.
The next day was the very educational with “real world” beef industry visits. The two big stops for the day, besides Memorial Stadium, of course , were at the US Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) and GeneSeek. Visiting MARC was a great educational opportunity to see research projects that affect cattle producers’ day-to-day lives. GeneSeek provided the group with a unique opportunity for members to learn about the complex world of genetics and the genomic testing. Of course, a crowd favorite was the tour of Memorial Stadium and the great history of the
University of Nebraska’s football program. Later that night a little fun was had with a competition of the water Olympics.
On Saturday, there were several speakers in the lineup. In the morning we were given a crash course in meat science and a tour of the UNL meats lab. The group also listened to a very thought-provoking presentation on the impact of genetic selection by Matt Spangler, Ph.D., professor and Extension beef genetics specialist with UNL That afternoon, Kate Hagans with the Kansas Farm Bureau came and spoke on the importance of social media used in agriculture with an expanding technological world. We capped off the day with some bowling and finished the conference the
next morning with goodbyes.
This was an outstanding leadership conference with some tremendous opportunities for our members. These types of leadership events are going to be critical in the development
of our members as we try to feed a booming population while working through it all with more and more people removed from rural America. The connections gained and the skills that were developed made The Summit leadership conference a tremendous success.
Auctioneer: Jeremy Anstine
Reported by: John Burbank
6 Bulls $7,208
13 Spring Pairs $4,327
26 Spring Bred Heifers $2,812
11 Older Spring Bred Cows $2,086
12 Fall Pairs/Breds $3,379
42 Open Heifers $1,713
1 ½ Interest Female $6,000
1 Pick of Bred Heifers $5,250
1 Pick of Open Heifers $2,450
1 Flush $3,600
114 Lots $2,865
This year’s Seedstock Plus Showcase Sale XII and 9th Annual Customer Appreciation Sale was enhanced with the addition of a black dispersal and red purebred dispersal for Kenyon Cattle/ Little Sioux Gelbvieh and a registered herd dispersal for Four Winds Ranch. The sale also included an offering of herd bull prospects. The entire day’s offering was very well received and there were quality cattle sold across all divisions. There were 84 registered buyers of which 52 bought representing 10 states. Overall a solid sale with many new customers purchasing along with the repeat customers of Seedstock Plus.
Sale highlights include the lot 7 herd bull prospect consigned by Mulroy Farms selling for $15,000 to the “Hole In One” group comprised of Waller Gelbvieh, Oak Ridge Farm, Zimmerman Gelbvieh, Duck River Gelbvieh and Burbank Cattle Co. Hole In One is a Homo Black, Homo Polled PB Gelbvieh that sports top 1% CE/FPI, top 2% BW/TM, top 3% WW/CEM, top 10% YW/MK/MB EPDs in a sound, quiet, eye appealing package.
The top spring pair came from Four Winds Gelbvieh and the lot 117/117A Red purebred Gelbvieh brought $8,700. The 4-year-old female sold at $6,100 going to Jack Welle of Iowa and the calf sold for $2,600 to Lewis Eslinger from Missouri. The top spring bred female was the lot 1, pick of the bred heifers from Sandy Knoll Farms. The buyer was Zimmerman Gelbvieh and the purchase price was $5,250.
In the fall division, lot 4 half interest female sold for $6,000 to Oak Ridge Farm, Arkansas. The consigner on this elite Balancer female was Burbank Cattle Co. Stuecken Brothers consigned a truly unique purebred Gelbvieh in lot 13 that sold for $6,000 to Roitsch Cattle Co, Texas.
The the top selling open heifer was a halter broke, showy March born Balancer female consigned by Nowack Cattle Co. Lot 80 was purchased by Danny Carroll, Missouri at $4,000. The Carroll family also purchase lot 76, a halter broke purebred Gelbvieh also consigned by Nowack Cattle Co. for $3,000. We will see both of these heifers in the show ring over the next year.
During the member education committee meeting at the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) National Convention in Wichita, Kansas, the AGA has invited Megan Rolf, Ph.D., assistant professor of animal breeding at Kansas State University (K-State) to visit with the membership about genomics.
Megan Rolf is a Kansas native, growing up in LeRoy, on her family’s row crop and cow-calf operation. Rolf ’s involvement in the beef industry started young. She was involved in 4-H showing heifers and was a member of the North American Limousin Junior Association and was on the junior board of directors. Rolf received her college education from K-State and completed her postgraduate degrees at the University of Missouri.
First off, let’s explore the process in which a blood/hair/ tissue sample ends in GE-EPDs. How does that happen?
“Essentially, once the sample is collected, it is routed through the association and submitted to the testing company. Samples are inventoried, the DNA is extracted, and samples will be run in batches according to the number of samples that can be run on a particular assay (genotyping product). Once the samples are genotyped and the data is processed, it will be returned to the breed
association for inclusion into the next National Cattle Evaluation run. There is a lot of work that goes into a genomic-enhanced (GE-EPD) behind the scenes, but from a producer’s perspective, collection of a good DNA sample is the hardest part of this process; you get a good sample and send it in properly and the hard work is done,” Rolf said.
How do genomics impact the commercial producer’s herd when they buy bulls with GE-EPDs? Why is it important for all producers to pay attention to genomics?
GE-EPDs increase the accuracy of breeding decisions. “The main impact of a GE-EPD for a commercial producer is the ability to have a higher accuracy EPD with which you can make selection
decisions. Especially when considering purchasing a yearling herd sire that doesn’t have any progeny recorded yet, this extra accuracy can help them choose a sire with more confidence that he fits their selection criteria and breeding objective. At the moment, genomic technologies are seamlessly integrated into the selection tools we already have available, which is great and provides additional, useful information in a package that we’re already used to using.”
What is the future for genomics?
“I think the future for genomics is bright,” Rolf said. “In my mind, we’re just scratching the surface of what we might be able to do in the future. There are a lot of aspects of genetics/genomics (including imprinting, noncoding RNAs, methylation, histone modification, etc.) that impact phenotype through regulation of the genes that are inherited but that we haven’t had the technology to explore previously on a genome-wide scale.”
“I think some of our greatest insights into the biology of beef cattle will come when we can integrate all of these technologies into a better understanding of the underlying biology of how a phenotype is created through the complex interaction of inherited DNA (and the mutations it contains) and gene regulation, which can then be translated into genetic selection and/or management tools that producers can utilize.”
What are the future traits that we will be able to predict?
Rolf understands that there are some challenges that impede the process of developing future traits. She says that imagination and the technical capability are two of the limiting factors right now. “Generally, the limiting factor for genomic prediction of novel traits is the need to have a large number of phenotypes on whatever trait you’re interested in predicting” Rolf explained. She
notes that utilizing a large sample size can be expensive and/or complicated and that collecting enough phenotypes to develop a solid selection tool requires a lot of time as well.
Rolf emphasizes how important it is for the selection tools developed to be accurate and effective. “I think this is where a selection index can play a big role in helping place appropriate balances on traits in a defined selection program to help correctly balance out an ever increasing amount of information.”
Is there anything else regarding the future of breeding and genetics that cattle producers should be aware of?
“I think the best bit of advice I can give is that genetics is pretty fast-paced. If they keep an eye on trade publications, and come to conferences like the national convention, I would guess that they’ll be pretty well informed on new developments! I think the next thing that is/will be making a splash is the potential to leverage genomic sequence data, such as what is being done in the fertility project at the University of Missouri and collaborators.”
The American Gelbvieh Association is one of the collaborators on this project. The study is aimed at identifying the genetic cause of less than 100 percent conception rate in cows and then potentially developing a tool to select breeding stock.
Ranching for profit has long been a business of tight bottom lines. Savvy ranchers are always looking for ways to reduce costs and spread them over more production points for greater profit. In doing this, one area of expense that might come under question is the price for good bull genetics: is it really cost-effective to pay more for a genetically superior bull?
Bull prices change frequently with the ever-changing markets, but investing in superior bull genetics routinely comes at a higher cost. Research done through the Noble Research Institute by Steve Swigert, agricultural economics consultant, show an additional $31.09 cost per cow for using known bull genetics versus using a bull with unknown pedigree and performance bought at a sale barn. In further research, Swigert investigated bull costs per cow for three different kinds of bulls: 1) bulls with unknown genetics bought at a sale barn, 2) bulls with known pedigree but limited performance information bought from a neighbor, and 3) bulls with known genetics with expected progeny differences (EPDs) bought from a seedstock supplier. Swigert found the total annual economic bull costs per cow to be $23.45, $36.14, and $54.54, respectively, assuming each bull was mated to 25 cows a year for five years.
Clearly, using known bull genetics comes at a greater cost. The follow-up question, however, is if the greater cost leads to greater returns. Swigert found using known bull genetics increased weaning performance of calves by roughly 100 pounds per calf. Pricing the value of increased weaning performance at $1.10/lb (in 2013), the value of increased performance came to roughly $110 per calf. The study further found an increase in yearling performance at $66 per calf, measured by difference in average daily gain. The total increased value credited to increased weaning and yearling performance came to $176 per calf from bulls with known genetics. In cow terms, that comes to a $144.91 marginal return per cow per year when mated to bulls with superior genetics. In bull terms, a genetically superior bull who sired 125 calves over five years had an additional marginal income of roughly $18,113!
Those are impressive numbers, but it can still be difficult to bite the bullet and write that large check for a bull on sale day. Large capital investments do come with a certain amount of risk. Is the risk actually that much greater for more expensive bulls with known genetics? According to an article by Troy Marshall in 2011 for BEEF magazine, the average service cost per cow at 25 cows per year for a $4,500 bull is about $63.14/cow. With the same assumptions, the difference between a $3,750 bull and a $5,250 bull on average cost per cow serviceded is $9/cow. When comparing that to the added value from increased calf performance at weaning, it doesn’t take very much for a more expensive bull to start paying for itself. Based on the calculation of actual costs of a bull per cow from Jim McGrann, Texas A&M emeritus professor, it only takes an added 12 pounds of weaning weight to justify paying $5,250 versus $3,750 a bull.
Buying bulls with unknown origin direct from the sale barn also comes with its own added risk, genetics aside. In an article by Laura Mushrush for BEEF magazine, Dr. Matt Spangler was quoted as calling the risks of such a purchase “multifold”. He points out you might be compromising your operation’s biosecurity since you have no idea what potential disease risks, both reproductive and otherwise, come along with that bull. By comparison, when genetics are purchased directly from a seedstock provider, the buyer will have access to test results for various diseases such as persistently infected (PI) carriers of bovine viral diarrhea. Additionally, many bulls purchased directly from seedstock providers are often yearlings, or come with a virgin bull certificate in the case of older bulls over 18 months. This ensures the buyer will not be introducing damaging reproductive diseases into their cowherd. Spangler points out the uncertainty of buying bulls direct from the sale barn, “…You have no idea if the bull is even fertile, or if he’ll pass a breeding soundness exam”. Couple that with no real idea of how the bull will perform in terms of genetic potential as a parent, and Spangler concludes, “Even though the bull may be much cheaper, it could be a very expensive decision to make if he happens to be diseased, unfertile, or counterproductive to the rancher’s goals”.
If bull buying is a game of dollars and cents, purchasing a bull with known superior genetics from a seedstock producer definitely pencils out. Comparatively, sale barn bulls with unknown origins and disease profiles are both high risk and potentially low producing. Despite a somewhat greater cost per cow, added value from greater weaning and yearling performance of calves coupled with greater security from potentially costly disease risks make buying seedstock bulls with known genetics a “no brainer”.
Swigert, Steve. “Buying known bull genetics adds value”.
October 2015. Noble Research Institute Ag News and
Marshall, Troy. “How much can you afford for a bull”.
March 2011. Beef Magazine.
Mushrush, Laura. “Don’t play Russian Roulette with your
cattle genetics”. February 2017. BEEF Magazine.
If you were fortunate to be raised in a small town you know how easy it is to become involved in a multitude of organizations. Growing up you can be a part of 4-H, FFA, FCCLA, National Honor Society, Student Council, breed organizations such as the American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA), and countless other organizations. Youth programs are the backbone of American agriculture and they lay a foundation for the future by equipping youth with lifelong skills and connections that cannot be built within the walls of a classroom.
Through my involvement with multiple organizations I learned one of the most critical skills of all: communication. Standing up to deliver the FFA Creed, leading an advocacy workshop, or even giving a presentation at a 4-H meeting taught me the importance of being able to speak clearly, loudly, and in terms that my audience will understand. The ability to communicate becomes ever more important each day; whether it is talking to another producer, a veterinarian, a teacher, or a consumer. With each audience we address, our vocabulary changes and our body language shifts because the terms we use on the farm are foreign to some of the people living in our own communities. Youth organizations taught me that being able to communicate with others in understandable terms is crucial to preventing misconceptions and ensuring a positive image of the agriculture industry. Learning how to properly communicate has allowed me to share my beef story in an effective manner.
A skill often overlooked, but a vital skill I gained from my years in different youth organizations is time management. Growing up, I held leadership roles in many clubs that I was a part of and with all those leadership roles came a multitude of responsibilities that had to be fulfilled. The only way for me to be a successful leader was proper time management. Time management goes beyond just being a good leader. It teaches you to balance time and work in a manner that is effective and efficient, which showcases many benefits when it comes to school, work, or even responsibilities on the farm. A future employer will notice when you can balance multiple tasks at once and still produce high-quality work. Learning how to properly manage time is important for being successful in life at work, school, and at home.
Youth organizations instilled in me the importance of hard work and dedication. I remember spending hours practicing the FFA Creed or coming into school early for mock-job interviews, all to ensure I was fully prepared for my upcoming contest. These hours were not required or mandatory, but rather it was the extra effort I was willing to put in so I could be successful at whatever endeavor I was embarking on. Youth programs showed me how hard work and dedication pays off in the long run. Each day we have the choice to spend extra time studying EPDs to find the perfect match for the upcoming breeding, to take an extra fifteen minutes to practice showmanship, or even taking time to meet with a nutritionist to formulate the right diet for your animal in all stages of life. Our dedication to the beef industry, and our own cattle, make us willing to go the extra mile and put in extra hours because we know the time spent now will produce large rewards in the end.
My involvement with youth programs shaped me into the person I am today. I can stand up and speak in front of a group and be confident; I can share the events occurring on my farm to anyone no matter what background they may come from; I know how to balance my time to ensure all my obligations are met, and I have learned that hard work and dedication can go a long way. While youth organizations may seem like another responsibility to squeeze into an already busy schedule, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on how you have been impacted by youth programs. For me, my years spent in different youth programs laid a foundation for my future that allowed me to have a successful college career, an understanding of what lies outside my community, and even to my role at the Iowa Beef Industry Council this past summer. Youth programs have been, and will continue to be, the backbone of American agriculture by equipping youth with knowledge and skills to be successful.
Kurt Johnson is part of a multi-generational ranching family that runs a commercial cow-calf operation in north central Nebraska. Kurt is the fourth generation of Johnsons to ranch near Stuart, Nebraska, dating back to 1929. The family’s ranching roots run just as deep on his mother, Twila’s side of the family. Twila’s grandfather, Walter K. Smith, started out with Herefords in 1941.
Today, the family runs approximately 500 commercial cows, and utilizes Gelbvieh and Balancer® genetics to help accomplish their beef production goals. The operation raises hay and enough forages to maintain the cowherd.
Twila and her husband, Ron Wherley, are still involved as Twila does all the recordkeeping and bookwork for the operation.
Kurt’s children, Amber and Paul, are also returning to the ranch, becoming the fifth generation on the land. Amber graduated from Wayne State, and is currently teaching junior high science and coaching athletics in Norfolk, Nebraska. Amber enjoys coming home to help during weaning, working calves, and moving cows.
Paul has recently returned to the ranch full time with his new bride Mikayla. Paul graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. Paul is now working alongside Kurt to complete the daily responsibilities of running a ranch and raising cattle.
When and why did you start using Gelbvieh and Balancer genetics?
“We started using 75 percent Gelbvieh bulls in 1994. We had been using terminal cross sires on our cows, but we wanted to start keeping our home-raised heifers as replacement females,” Kurt said.
Kurt and Twila agree that there were many attributes of the Gelbvieh breed that led them to begin using Gelbvieh bulls. Fertility, maternal ability, longevity, and docility are all very important traits in a mother cow. These females have good udder quality, but the Johnsons also wanted cows with moderate mature size and weight. They have been very happy with the results they have found in these cows while maintaining performance and growth in their calf crop.
What are some of the advantages to the crossbred cow with Gelbvieh and Balancer genetics?
These cows can raise a good calf every year, and breed back with minimal inputs. A short calving season is very important on Johnsons’ operation.
“We start calving in mid-March, and will be 85 percent done calving in 21 days. We are completely finished calving by May 1. We wean our calves in October. Weaning weights are collected and recorded for each individual calf. The calves are taken home for weaning and backgrounding. The cows run on corn stalks from November through January. We pregnancy check all of our cows in the fall. Maternal ability, fertility, and longevity are all very important to us,” Kurt said.
Structural soundness is another requirement. The furthest summer pasture is 23 miles from home. The Johnson family has a two day cattle drive to move cows to stalk fields near the ranch headquarters after the calves are weaned. “Feet and legs are important. These cows have to be able to walk.”
What decisions make up your calf weaning and marketing strategies?
“We wean and vaccinate all of our calves. The calves are then backgrounded on a growing ration of wet distillers, homegrown roughage, and rolled corn. We want to grow and develop the calves, and add some frame but keep the cattle in desirable body condition for potential buyers.” The steers are sold at Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, Nebraska, and are usually marketed in January weighing 700-800 pounds.
Approximately 40 to 50 heifer calves are selected to be kept as replacements. The rest of the heifer calves are sold in mid-February.
Shane Kaczor, co-owner of Bassett Livestock Auction, explains that a large portion of the females are bought by other commercial cattle producers as replacements.
“I sort the heifers for sale as potential replacements how I would want to buy them,” Kaczor said. “More of these heifers are sold as replacements than are sold as feeders,” says Twila. In recent years, replacement heifers have been sold into six states. Kurt keeps in contact with the buyers and has numerous repeat customers.
What traits are important to you when selecting bulls, and how do EPDs influence your decisions?
The family tries to buy top-end bulls and wants each one to be a complete package. Semen is collected on several bulls the family uses as commercial herd sires, and thus these bulls are being used in seedstock operations as well. Johnsons look for moderate framed, heavy muscled, structurally sound bulls and evaluate the EPDs on each individual.
“We want bulls with moderate birth weight EPDs because we don’t want calving problems. We have to start with a live calf! We also want bulls with moderate maternal EPDs because these Gelbvieh and Balancer females are good milkers,” Paul said. “We look for bulls with good weaning weights because growth and performance are important to us. We don’t want to buy bulls with extremely high yearling weight EPDs because we want to maintain moderate mature sized cows.”
The Johnsons buy bulls that are between 18 and 24 months old. They are maintained on hay with salt and mineral. Bulls are given breeding soundness exams in the spring before being turned out with the cows. What are some of your goals for the future? Kurt and Paul have a couple of things in mind for future improvement of the herd. “We would like to start a fall-calving herd. Also, we would like to start keeping more of the heifers, breed them, and then sell as bred replacement females,” Kurt said.
The family believes in continual improvement towards increased uniformity and consistency of their calf crop. Like most ranching families, Twila’s primary goal is to continue passing the ranch on to future generations.
What does it mean to raise a productive cow? Does she have to have a calf every year, produce a calf that meets or exceeds your expectations at weaning and breed back each season without fail? Chances are you answered yes to each of these questions and maybe even require a little bit more out of your cowherd.
Profitability on the farm or ranch starts with the cow. Selecting the right cow for the environment plays heavily into the success of a cowherd. A cow that cannot maintain her body condition with the resources available has a greater probability of being open when the vet comes to pregnancy check. And every producer knows, an open cow is not a profitable cow.
Adding body condition to thin cows before breeding also requires more feed resources and more money. Instead, having a moderate-sized cow that will maintain herself on forage and minimal supplementation is a goal that most cow-calf operations can get behind.
The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center data shows Gelbvieh females have the most moderate mature cow size of the four major Continental cattle breeds.
Producers across the country are finding the benefit of Gelbvieh and Balancer®-influenced females as a part of their breeding program to maintain a moderate framed female without forfeiting calf performance.
“Between 1,250 to 1,350 is the cull weight on our cows and we’ve gotten to where we are selling 900-pound calves at 10 months of age,” said Bill Far of XA Cattle, near Moorefield, Nebraska. “Why we choose Balancers is because cow efficiency is number one. They are low maintenance, whether it’s from the work end of it, or the feed end of it, they are really efficient.”
Maternal efficiency equates to maternal profitability. Efficiency in the cowherd encompasses many factors. Reproductive productivity and genetics are two key factors of maternal efficiency. For years, Gelbvieh and Balancer seedstock suppliers have been providing producers with genetics that directly impact economic efficiency.
Commercial producers who have been raising Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle have witnessed substantial improvements in fertility and longevity of the cowherd while seeing increases in weaning weight coupled with low to moderate birth weights.
Bill Tucker, Tucker Farms, Amherst, Virginia, is quick to point out the ability for his Gelbvieh-influenced females to maintain their reproductive status, when stressed, better than any of the other breeds that they raise. This becomes very important during times of drought. His Gelbvieh influenced females can maintain fertility at a full body condition score less than other breeds.
“That in and of itself doesn’t only translate to her longevity, but also her economic efficiency in times when we don’t perhaps have the ideal inputs, but we don’t have animals falling out of the system,” Tucker said.
Cow-calf producers need to raise cows with staying power. Selecting genetics with built-in stayability is something that will provide a good return on investment for cattle producers.
The American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) publishes a stayablity EPD that predicts the genetic difference, in terms of percent profitability, that a bull’s daughters will stay productive within a herd to at least six years of age. According to a study (Brigham and Enns), Gelbvieh females in the AGA registry have more success staying in the herd at six years of age compared to females in the American Simmental Association and Red Angus Association of America registries.
Gelbvieh Influence Beyond the Cow
Gelbvieh cattle are not only known for their maternal capabilities, but also for post-weaning growth. Combine the Gelbvieh breed’s positive post-weaning traits with the power of heterosis gained by crossbreeding, and you’ve got a force to be reckoned with.
The advantage of crossbreeding is apparent both in the feedyard and on the rail. Balancer bulls have the ability to increase carcass weights, and the industry demanded quality grades without sacrificing yield.
“If you are looking for calves that go to the feedyard, in my experience, these composite calves grade well from a quality grade standpoint, and they also have favorable yield,” according to Wesley Welch, president and CEO of Spade Ranches, Lubbock, Texas.
Tucker uses Gelbvieh influence to add carcass weight, which is an important trait for him since his operation has been finishing out their steers for the last 22 years.
“We still get paid by the pound. Gelbvieh adds ribeye area, gainability and feed efficiency, which are all things we find highly valuable,” Tucker said.
Gelbvieh and Balancer seedstock suppliers are working hard to provide the industry with genetics to meet modern beef industry demands from the cow-calf to packer sectors.
Brigham, B.W., Speidel, S.E., Enns, R.M., Garrick, D.J.
(2007) Stayability to Alternate Ages
Meat Animal Research Center Progress Report #22
I know while reading this it feels like it’s been an eternity since we’ve all been at The Big Red Classic, and for those of you who were not in attendance, it was a fantastic week. June 25, 2017, junior members from across the nation gathered in Grand Island, Nebraska, for The AGJA Big Red Classic. The weather was fantastic and the facilities were above and beyond everyone’s high expectations. The Junior Gelbvieh Association in Nebraska and the Gelbvieh Association in Nebraska put in a lot of long hours and hard work to prepare for this event and on behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank you once again! It was a great week of fantastic competition between members and time was spent fostering friendships and relationships once again that will last a lifetime. One of the things I spoke about throughout the week was the unique experience that our classic brings to our members each year. The competitions help hone the skills that are molding the future leaders of our cattle industry. As a younger member it’s easy to get overly concentrated on the prizes and coming in first, but it’s when you become an older member that you realize it’s so much bigger than that. Whether it be sales talk, where you utilize the skills it takes to market livestock in a real life scenario, or the judging contest where you have to make quick decisions and be able to defend them, these are valuable skills you’ll use for the rest of your life. Going into my last year in the association I’ve been able to see members older than myself take these skills and become leaders and innovators within the livestock industry and beyond.
Another reoccurring theme that was described throughout the week was the family atmosphere that is special to the Gelbvieh family and particularly junior nationals. Of the seven members that ran for spots on the junior board, we went a perfect seven out of seven running on the platform of unity and the goal of keeping the family atmosphere. This year the junior board released a strategic plan with four main points, which can be found on pages 18-20 of this edition of Gelbvieh World. Two of these points relate directly to junior nationals: increase educational opportunities for members and maintain the family atmosphere. It was fantastic to watch both of these goals be accomplished throughout the week in Grand Island and we hope to continue that into the future.
The other highlights of the week were, of course, the cattle shows. The judges on Thursday for the Balancer show and showmanship were Alan Miller and Will Coor. Friday, Jason Elmore sorted the steers and Gelbvieh bulls and females. As always, the champion females and bulls were fantastic representations of good-looking cattle that will hopefully go out and be functional cornerstone pieces of breeding operations.
In all, it was a fantastic week and we look forward to the start of a new year as a junior association!
I hope that this issue of the Gelbvieh World finds our members caught back up on rest and back to the normal routines of their daily lives. I am sure many of you are busy putting up hay and preparing to wean calves; the fruits of your last year’s labor. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a great thanks to the Junior Gelbvieh Association in Nebraska and the Gelbvieh Association in Nebraska for the time and hard work they devoted towards hosting an amazing and successful 2017 AGJA Big Red Junior Classic. I also want to thank our junior board for the commitment and devotion they put into not only Junior Classic, but also the junior program and its members. I would be remiss if I did not send my gratitude to the parents of our juniors that help make this program possible and devote countless hours at home and take time out of their own careers to further the skills and knowledge of their young Gelbvieh members. Congratulations to all our juniors for your rewards and successes, but more importantly for your hard work and dedication!
Junior Classic is a fun-filled six days that draws our junior members and their best cattle together. Classic is not just another cattle show; youth also compete in various contests to prepare them for their future both in our breed and the beef industry. Video, poster, graphic design, and sales talk contests encourage members to establish priceless promotional and marketing skills that they will use in their own operations and for the breed. Undoubtedly, the most dreaded contest is impromptu speaking. The abilities acquired in this contest will continue to reap benefits for our members no matter what career path they choose. Quiz bowl and skill-a-thon push junior members to be well versed in beef cattle, the beef industry, and specifically Gelbvieh and Balancer® facts and trivia, and rewards them for their wisdom. In team fitting they must work together and communicate to obtain a common goal. They must also be able to see their animal’s flaws or weakness and disguise them with craft and steady hands. Programs like mentor/protégé enable more experienced juniors to lead and form bonds by helping first or second time junior classic attendees negotiate the action-packed week. Through these contests our members learn hard work, dedication, and perseverance; all of which are traits to be admired of our upcoming leaders of tomorrow’s beef industry.
Classic for many juniors is centered around time spent with friends. Underneath these friendships they are forming their very own network of peers that will help them blaze new trails for themselves and Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle. They establish firm relationships with these peers and established breeders through social time. They also leave lasting impressions on contest and cattle show judges, as well as sponsors. As a parent, I have encouraged my boys to seek out someone new to participate in contests with and make new friends! The bonds they form at Classic are invaluable and will last them a lifetime.
I believe one of the true advantages we hold as a breed is our junior program and the individuals that comprise it. I would encourage and challenge all of us to reach out to our own young members and to those that are not yet members and find ways to inspire, help, lead, and guide them. It is imperative that we continue to keep our junior program and junior classic high on our priority list. Our juniors are a jewel and they are the precious future of our
Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle. Through their annual meeting, contests, and running their own programs as committee and board members, we are ultimately preparing them to be adult members. As I consider the successes that some of our past junior members have achieved, I cannot help but think we will be truly amazed by the accomplishments of our current and future junior members.
Brad Bennett is the extension educator for livestock evaluation and youth programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Brad serves as the UNL livestock judging team coach as well as the meat animal evaluation team coach in addition to teaching several courses. The primary focus of Brad’s extension program is youth education using animals as the vehicle to create knowledge, teamwork, critical thinking, and communication skills.
The American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) was grateful to have Brad join the AGJA at the 2017 Big Red Classic in Grand Island, Nebraska. He served as the announcer during both show days and helped coordinate and officiate the livestock judging contest.
What programs or opportunities does UNL offer students looking to seek a career in the agriculture industry?
In the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, we have 30 degree programs preparing students for careers in everything from animals to plants, soil to climate, golf to business, mechanization to leadership, and food to forensic science. We provide individualized academic advising to all our students so they can tailor their education and experiences to their interests and career goals. In addition to a wide range of majors, we have a program called Ensuring Your Future that guarantees participating students will have a job offer in their interest area within six months of graduating or we will pay to retrain them. To make this possible, we have our own career expert to help students with their resumé and interviewing skills as well as introducing them to numerous employers who attend our twice yearly career fairs. We are committed to student success at every level, which includes providing students with fabulous facilities, internationally recognized faculty, and significant scholarship dollars. We also offer the opportunity for students to create their own businesses through our Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship, get involved in an incredible line-up of clubs and organizations, conduct cutting-edge research with faculty mentors, or experience the world in far-flung locations through Education Abroad.
What does UNL look for in prospective students?
In a single word, we look for passion. That doesn’t mean you must know exactly what you want to do in life. More importantly, have an outlook that allows you to find something you love, dedicate yourself to excellence, and always work to make yourself and those around you better. We have a set of world class academic programs, student involvement, and campus engagement programs that can give you all the knowledge you’ll ever need. But we can’t replace dedication, drive, and passion. They say “there’s no place like Nebraska” and that’s all because our students come in with that passion and they transform it into something great. We’d be happy to host you on a visit and to have you as a part of the Husker family.
How do junior programs, such as the AGJA, 4-H, and FFA, help to prepare youth for future success?
In my opinion, nothing can replace the value of involvement in junior programs. Speaking from personal experience, it was involvement in 4-H, FFA, and junior breed associations that have opened up every opportunity I have ever had, both in college and my professional life. Often, we think of these associations as a way to show livestock and hopefully come home with some ribbons and banners, and that may be true. But what you will realize as your show career is coming to an end is that the livestock weren’t just there to be shown – they were there as vehicles to mold you into the person you are. Late nights in the barn, countless hours of work, and competing on the biggest stages build accountability, work ethic, and a competitive spirit. But they also instill communication, problem solving, and decision-making skills that are key components to anyone’s success in the future, whether you know that at the time or not. Beyond that, the network of people from all over the country that you have the chance to interact with will become your peers and mentors in the agriculture industry moving forward. I’ll paraphrase Jason Elmore’s comments at the conclusion of junior nationals that I thought best summarized how important these organizations and events are. “There is a lot of negativity in the world today. I wish everyone would witness what happens at a junior nationals and embrace the positivity we are building here.”
Why do you think it is important for youth to be involved in their junior breed association?
You’re never supposed to answer a question with a question, but hopefully we can make an exception this time. Would you grow up wanting to play professional baseball without first playing youth baseball? I think the answer would be no 100 percent of the time, and I’m a firm believer that it’s the same for those who want to be involved in the agriculture industry. Even if running a 500-head Gelbvieh seedstock operation isn’t in your long-term plans, chances are you’ll want to be involved in agriculture in some form and it’s organizations like the AGJA that will show you all the opportunities that exist in agriculture.
How does livestock judging prepare youth for a future career in the agriculture industry?
We hear from employers all the time that experiences outside of the classroom are huge factors in deciding who to hire. Livestock judging both at the youth and college level is a way to give you those experiences. Judging has grown into much more than learning how to place four head, even though that’s still a major component. It’s also communication, problem solving, and decision-making skills that can be near perfected by devoting your time to judging programs. There aren’t many other activities that can teach you to evaluate a situation, arrive at a conclusion, and then confidently explain why in a matter of minutes. When you enter your career that same process becomes a staple of your everyday life.
In our program, the focus is on building better people. When thinking about the list of pioneers that have brought the livestock industry to where it is today, many will trace the reason for their success back to livestock judging.
What do you see is the biggest challenge facing youth in agriculture? What can they do now to prepare?
Challenges are simply opportunities for the next generation. The agriculture landscape is changing rapidly and it’s up to youth to understand where we’re at today and where we need to be in 10, 25, or 50 years. Often, we can get bogged down by what’s happening right now. I would challenge youth to always be forward-thinking. We need you to be innovative, willing to adapt, and knowledgeable enough to lead this industry well into the future. There’s not a silver bullet that can prepare you for everything you’ll encounter in life, but no matter what, ask questions, reflect on what does and doesn’t work, and always be willing to step outside of your comfort zone for the sake of progress.
As referenced in President Scott Starr’s “View from the Board” article on page 6 of this edition of Gelbvieh World, The American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) Board of Directors had the opportunity to hear from a guest speaker at the latest board meeting. Matt Spangler, Ph.D., beef genetics specialist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, covered a broad range of topics and answered numerous questions from the board regarding the direction of the AGA.
Genomics History Lesson
AGA and the rest of the International Genetic Solution (IGS) partners are moving away from a two-step approach to genetic selection and toward a single-step approach of incorporating genomics into genetic evaluations, using a software known as BOLT. “Instead of the training process and blending after the evaluation (as done with the two-step approach), those genotypes fit directly into your national cattle evaluation along with pedigree and performance information and are all estimated together,” Spangler explained.
One benefit of BOLT is its speed. Spangler calls the software exceptionally fast, which will make it possible to turn out evaluations more than twice a year as AGA currently does.
By nature, genetics, genomics, expected progeny differences (EPDs), and accuracy are a complex subject matter. Spangler understands that if a producer didn’t have a handle on EPDs and accuracy before, genomics only muddied the waters. Spangler spends a fair amount of time educating producers at every level of the industry on the science behind genomics as well as the practical applications of genomics.
Proper application of genomics technology is essential. Spangler challenges the entire membership of any beef cattle breed association to genotype complete cohort groups. When he pulls the trigger to genotype at the University, he tests every calf born. Spangler explained that the technology is to be used to determine the animals that are going to make the sale.
“I don’t want to use it once I’m putting together my catalog to try and make a bull bring more money; that’s not what the technology was meant to do.” He also cautions breed associations and individual producers about only genotyping their best animals. “Cherry-picking inherently leads to bias in your genomic predictions. You need to do the entire cohort.”
Forward Thinking to the Future
“The trick to a successful breed association going forward isn’t just that the commercial industry recognizes and values Gelbvieh and Balancer germplasm, but they recognize and value the AGA,” Spangler said.“The commercial industry needs to think that if it weren’t for the stuff that the AGA does for me, I wouldn’t know what to do.”
The Gelbvieh breed prides itself for maternal capabilities. Some maternal traits and fertility traits are hard to measure. Spangler points out that one breed will never get enough data within that particular breed to accurately describe fertility traits through EPDs. One would have to harness the power of the commercial cow-calf sector and collect the overwhelmingly large amount of data that could be provided.
“The entity that can leverage commercial cowherd data wins the race. There needs to be a large investment and collaboration to get that done, and it’s not an easy task,” Spangler said. Taking swine production into consideration, Spangler described those swine firms that invested in genomics that doesn’t own commercial assets are heavily involved in genomics. Those that do own commercial assets interest invest in phenotypes before genotyping.
While it’s not an easy task in the beef industry, ideally, data needs to be collected on a mix of Gelbvieh, commercial Balancer females, straight-bred Angus, and straight-bred Red Angus females. Spangler understands that the commercial producer must benefit from the transfer of data in some way. Preferably, the association can provide the producer with impactful herd management tools to make their life easier in one step in the right direction. This falls in line with the Meeting Modern Industry Demands Strategic Plan goal of AGA having the largest commercial cowherd database in the industry. Moving toward that goal calls on AGA members to direct their customers to enroll their cattle in the Smart Select Service, which is AGA’s commercial data management tool.
Being a Seedstock Breeder is Hard Work
“You inherently bare the expense that’s related to genetic evaluation and improvement. Then there’s the investment you made over a long time to increase the genetic merit… It’s all part of being a seedstock producer,” Spangler said.
In closing, Spangler said that he understands that being a seedstock producer is expensive and a lot of work, but each producer chooses to be in the seedstock business.
After all, it’s the seedstock producers’ job to influence genetic progress within the nation’s collective beef cow herd. That task can be daunting and incredibly rewarding all at the same time.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service revealed some shocking (and maybe not so shocking) truths: farmers and ranchers are getting older, fewer in numbers, and there aren’t as many “new” producers entering the industry. While these facts may sound gloomy and disheartening, let’s look closer at some of the information and, more importantly, how young producers like myself can contribute to their family’s operations.
When looking at the farm facts below one wonders, what does this mean for you and your family operation? How does a young producer get involved? What can or should you do to improve upon the legacy of the family farm or ranch?
As a young producer, I have pondered these questions myself. Our family operation in Whitesboro, Texas, is the stereotypical small family farm as defined by the agriculture census. My great-great-grandfather homesteaded there more than 100 years ago. Since then, my family has raised everything from cotton and corn to peanuts and cattle. My grandparents both had jobs off the farm, as did my parents, as do I. While I’d like to think the farm has always been profitable, I know that is not the case; without outside income, our operation would not have survived. I’d like to reflect on my experiences as a young producer and share some observations that could hopefully aid and encourage other upstart farmers, ranchers and land managers.
Be willing to assume risk.
Risk can come in a variety of forms: financial, occupational or reputational. Any time you put skin in the game, you’re going to become more invested in the success and well-being of the operation. Be motivated and push the needle to accomplish your goal(s).
Speak up, but know when to shut up.
Proposing new ideas can be seen as challenging the status quo but, in reality, without the injection of new ideas, an operation can become stagnant and possibly miss out on an opportunity to become more efficient and/or productive. It can be something as small as how and what we feed cattle to exploring new marketing opportunities for our crop, such as direct marketing to consumers. However, you can learn a lot from listening. Seek out those who have been in the business, who have had success and failure, and learn from their experiences. That kind of education is free and real-world tested.
This goes hand-in-hand with my previous point. Sometimes being the silent observer is fine, but do not be timid about asking why things are done the way they are. Try to gain some perspective and history before you offer input or thought into why or how an operation could be doing something differently.
Get your hands dirty.
I’m very proud of the degrees on the wall of my office, but I’m equally proud of the experiences and lessons learned from others I have encountered and worked with in the field. I am convinced that formal education empowers a person to continue to learn after they graduate and enter the professional world. Who better to learn from than those already actively engaged and doing the work?
Seemingly small things can yield major rewards.
Change can be as drastic or subtle as you make it. As a small operator, my goal for our farm is to be as efficient as possible with our finances, natural resources and livestock. This past winter, my dad and I decided to change how we feed hay. Historically, we’d put hay rings around a round bale, knowing we were wasting a significant portion of the bale (and money). My exposure to current research and different management techniques proved that we could do better with little-to-no additional effort required. Once we began rolling the bales out instead of simply setting them down with a hay ring, we noticed a greater portion of the hay was consumed and less was wasted. This decreased how many bales we needed to purchase to feed through the winter. That money we saved from not buying hay could be reinvested in our pastures through fertilizer this spring. Small improvements stack up quick and can quickly change the landscape and character of an operation.
Lead change and become involved.
American agriculture has overcome many challenges and obstacles in the past, but I feel our greatest contest is yet to come. With increasing regulation, more competitive global markets, and a general population who continues
to grow removed from and distrust modern agriculture, we as an industry must ensure our livelihood and rural heritage endure. It is easy to sit back and say, “Well, I can’t do anything about it. I’m a little guy.” National and state
organizations are the collective voice of our industry. It is imperative to not only become a member but also be actively engaged in that organization, and promote its creed and mission.
Be able to admit when you need help.
Know your limits and when you need assistance. It is OK to admit you do not know something or your abilities aren’t as advanced as those around you. More importantly, be the helping hand when you are called upon by others.
Working with family is where memories are made and life lessons learned.
Some of my fondest memories growing up involve riding on the tractor and in the wagons during peanut harvest. I’ll never forget the smell and sounds of harvest as a young boy (and the stomachache from eating too many fresh peanuts). My working relationship with my grandfather and dad has changed since then from shotgun rider to partner, and for that I am truly blessed and grateful. Now that I have a family of my own, I take every opportunity I have to take my daughters with me to check cattle, get on the tractor, fix fence, etc. The time spent together is irreplaceable; I know that because my mentors and role models took the time to take me along on similar chores. Take time to give back to younger generations; they will be the caretakers of the future we are all working to make a reality.
The future of agriculture in our great country is bright and full of opportunity for those willing to grasp it. As young farmers and ranchers, we are blessed with tools, technologies, techniques and information our predecessors could only dream about. Though we face challenges that previous generations did not, we are still in contest with some all too familiar ones. I am encouraged by the fact that so many still commit themselves to feeding and clothing their fellow man. It is a noble effort that is forgotten by so many.
Source: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
It’s that time of year to make sure your herd is up to par. Have you been checking on the productivity of your herd this year? Make sure your herd is up to date on vaccinations, provided with the proper minerals, good nutrition and parasite control. All four of these management practices go hand in hand to impact the productivity of the herd.
Developing the appropriate vaccination schedule for a herd is what prevents disease and is a must for any beef operation. Base the vaccinations on what type of herd you are managing and the region in which you are located. Diseases can be transmitted from wildlife, insects or simply from the environment itself. Even if you diligently vaccinate cattle, they may still get sick if they are below their nutrient requirements or have a mineral deficiency.
Trace mineral deficiencies can be corrected by using supplements (added to salt mixes) or given to each animal orally or by injection. Mineral concentrations can be used as a guide when choosing a mineral supplement to complement a particular feed ingredient. The most important points to consider when purchasing minerals are the calcium to phosphorus levels, salt level, bioavailability, level of “trace minerals” in the supplement, and additives. Mineral feeder placement is a very important part of supplying minerals to the cowherd. Make sure to use an adequate number of feeders for the stocking rate. A rule of thumb is to provide one mineral feeding station for every 30 to 50 cows. A great area to place mineral feeders are near water and near the best grazing areas.
Nutrition plays a big role in herd management. A balanced and adequate diet that fits each class of animal is essential. Whether we’re talking about young calves, lactating cows, bulls or yearlings, they each need a specific and sufficient diet to be able to perform and excel in production. Poor nutrition is a huge cause of diseases such as scours, respiratory illnesses, and foot rot, along with infertility in adults and slow growth in young animals. Pregnant cows with inadequate protein levels don’t produce enough colostrum for their newborn calves, which makes those babies more prone to disease during their first weeks of life. Separating heifers from older cows for winter feeding time is ideal because they are still growing and need a higher level of protein. Protein helps optimum health, growth, breeding, or to produce adequate colostrum if they’re pregnant with their first calves.
Always provide adequate sources of clean water because dirty water can spread disease. If cattle are short on water, they suffer from dehydration or impaction, and steers may develop urinary stones if they don’t drink enough during cold weather, causing their urine to become too concentrated. Parasite control can be overlooked because the herd may look healthy but parasites could be taking away nutrients. Parasites result in lower weaning weights in calves, less milk production, less efficient immune system, and lower reproduction rates. External parasite prevention can be maintained by using insecticide application or insecticide ear tags. Internal parasites can be prevented by vaccination. Also keep in mind that cattle that are spread out in a large area together are less prone to get internal parasites compared to cattle that are held in small areas. A healthy herd is a prosperous herd. These four essential management strategies play a huge role in maintaining that prosperous herd. So the main question is, are you making sure your herd is up to par?
As the summer activities progress, there always seems to be many tasks that need to be completed before time can move on. By the time this publication reaches mailboxes, I will be finishing up calving and working on breeding decisions for the next calf crop. Many operations are past this point and are starting to see the fruits of the past year in calf performance. Breeding decisions are, in my opinion, the most important single act any one of us can make. As we are moving forward, the world’s best live animal protein source deals with the enormous handicap of a one-year interval for genetic advancement. The pork and poultry industry are much, much faster and I guess that’s God’s way of keeping it fair by giving the lesser products faster intervals. The time constraints of beef production prove the tremendous ability of beef producers to keep ahead. The poultry industry can change genetics 5.7 times in one year; just think what we could do with beef cows if we had those capabilities. It also means we cannot make mistakes and I believe this really sums up the Gelbvieh and Balancer® breeders! As time rolls on you will see that chasing fads or single trait selection did not, and will not pay off for other breeds.
During our most recent face-to-face board meeting, a lot of time was spent on trying to read into that crystal ball for the future and stay true to our strategic plan. We want to make sure the success of our breed is moving along at the proper pace. It is more evident now than ever that we cannot make mistakes and must work hard to propel our breed and breeders forward. One of the programs that have been in the planning stages and came out of the board meeting with a specific direction is the AGA Expanded Services program. I encourage all AGA members to investigate these services and see if they can help your current program. Another program, which will be released later this year, allocates incentives to breeders that turn in highly relevant data. It will be beneficial to keeping the AGA database ahead of other databases. These incentives will be applied to feed intake data, DNA, and carcass testing.
Matt Spangler, Ph.D., with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Science Department also came during the board meeting as a guest speaker tasked with explaining the AGA’s EPDs and how DNA is incorporated to produce the genomic-enhanced EPDs that the association’s breeders and customers see in print. Dr. Spangler’s session was tremendously enlightening and will help guide the AGA down the road. Dr. Spangler also further explained BOLT, which is the new software that AGA and the other International Genetic Solution (IGS) partners will use to conduct the National Cattle Evaluation. In short, the capability for real-time data updates is the major take-home message regarding a very intricate system. With BOLT, as soon as breeders input weights, EPDs will be generated.
While all of this is important for the board to know, the most interesting and thought-provoking portion of Dr. Spangler’s talk was about databases and the things that are required to sit in the cattle industry’s driver’s seat in the future. He simply explained that whoever has the most commercial data and how that breed can influence this data will be the leader of all databases. With that said, our Smart Select Service program is perfect to help the AGA be the best database in the industry! I personally want to ask all of us as AGA members to get as many of our commercial customers enrolled as they possibly can! Do whatever means necessary to get the cows in our database, e.g., offer to pay the first year. Once they can see the value of the data, I believe they will stay enrolled.
Speaking of our future, considerable time is spent at each board meeting with members of our American Gelbvieh Junior Association Board of Directors. We all see our juniors as the next generation of AGA members and want to help develop them into outstanding leaders of our breed as well as the beef industry. We have a tremendous set of forward-thinking and talented juniors. I hope all can attend the Jr. Nationals in Grand Island, Nebraska to show your support for the organization. This group has stepped up like no other in the past, so please show your support when you can, either at their national show or another event throughout the year.
The Summit is coming in August and is a tremendous leadership and beef industry-training seminar for our AGJA members and other youth interested in the beef industry.
Hope you all have an enjoyable summer. I will leave you with a couple of quotes. First, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” And secondly, “You are under no obligation to be the same person you were a year, a month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow. No apologies.” Let’s grow the AGA!
One of the many benefits of the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) participating in the International Genetic Solutions (IGS) multi-breed analysis is the fact that it makes our EPDs comparable with other breeds such as Simmental, Red Angus, and Limousin. This commitment to conformity makes it easier for bull buyers to compare genetic merit of animals from different breeds.
For many years now, the AGA has been encouraging the use of indexes to make more continuous genetic improvement in the directions of terminal value, maternal genetics, and feed efficiency. As a reminder, the AGA offers three indexes:
$Cow: Represents the genetic value in dollars of profit of an animal when retained as a replacement female relative to other animals in the herd. A higher number represents more profitable genetics for maternal productivity. $Cow will serve producers in selecting bulls that will sire daughters with stayability and reproductive efficiency as well as other traits that lead to profitability in a production system, such as milk, calving ease, moderate mature weight and the ability of calves to gain. A female’s genetics also influence the performance of her calves in the feedlot and at slaughter, so traits such as feed efficiency and carcass value are also included in $Cow.
When to use: Use $Cow when females will be retained for replacements and cull heifers and steers are slaughtered.
Efficiency profit index (EPI): An economic selection index developed to aid producers in selecting for more feed efficient cattle that still have acceptable amounts of gain. The EPI provides slight negative pressure on intake, while keeping gain at a constant value. Calving ease and growth to weaning are also included since they are economically relevant traits a terminal sire will influence in production. By selecting on this index, producers will be able to find those animals that gain the same amount as their contemporaries while eating less.
When to use: Use EPI to improve efficiency in your herd.
FPI: An economic selection index designed to aid producers in selecting sires whose progeny will perform in the feedlot and are sold on a grade and yield standpoint. Well ranking sires for FPI have higher marbling and carcass weight than their contemporaries.
When to use: Use FPI when all offspring out of a sire will be slaughtered.
Many AGA producers are now using several different breeds as part of a crossbreeding program to produce hybrid animals for their buyers. These breeders might ask: How does the AGA indexes stack up against indexes in other breeds? Are they comparable? While not identical, two of the AGA indexes are closely related to two indexes used by the American Simmental Association (ASA). The AGA FPI is closely related to the ASA Terminal Index (TI). The AGA $Cow index is closely related to the ASA’s All Purpose Index (API). So what does this mean for breeders? It means that when assessing animals, the indexes are closely enough related to get a rough idea of how the animals compare.
Remember, indexes are tools that allow producers to select for several EPDs at once, making selections more efficient than selecting on one trait at a time. Indexes weigh traits based on their importance to a producer’s bottom line by using a trait’s economic and genetic value. Indexes are a good way to put selection emphasis on traits that are economically relevant. Indexes are simple to use because a greater number is always more favorable, meaning a greater amount of profit for an animal’s progeny compared to its contemporaries.
The American Gelbvieh Foundation (AGF) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization established in 1991 to support youth, research, and member education. The AGF operates on charitable donations and AGF fundraising activities. The Mission statement reads:
The American Gelbvieh Foundation (AGF) secures, grows and responsibly distributes assets for research, member education and youth development to sustain and grow Gelbvieh genetics.
The AGF underwent reorganization in 2016 by entering into a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) and a revised set of bylaws. These changes resulted in a new and expanded AGF Board of Directors from nine to 15, with the addition of a new and expanded finance committee. The AGA sold the office building located at 10900 Dover Street last summer and the $800,000.00 proceeds of the sale was planned to be gifted to the AGF. The original purchase price of the building was donated by members and that amount of the proceeds is to be protected as a legacy to those members that sacrificed so much to make the AGA home possible. The AGA Board wanted to be assured that those legacy funds would be secured and untouched. The remaining available funds should be invested in such a way as to make them available should the need arise. The AGF Finance Committee is working on investment strategies for the sale proceeds and will select an investment advisor/broker to manage the AGF funds.
The AGF had a successful 2016 with fundraising activities that netted approximately $13,700 from the Steer Challenge/Scale to Rail Contest and the sale credit auction at the 2017 Gelbvieh and Balancer National Sale. The 2016 Steer Challenge included about 35 steers. The Steer Challenge has resulted in a great “feeding” education tool for membership and provides much needed carcass data on sire groups, thus accomplishing two of the three AGF purposes, member education and research.
We are extremely excited as the 2017 Steer Challenge includes over 100 head of steers. The increased numbers will provide more data collected for the AGA sire groups and additional financial gain for the AGF creating a win–win scenario.
At of the end of 2016 the AGF had total assets of $168,000 which included the $38,000 in the Community First Foundation endowment fund. Of these total funds, $121,000 are available. With the transfer of the $800,000 from the building sale the AGF could conceivably have assets exceeding $1 million by the end of 2017.
In addition to the Steer Challenge and the sale credit auction the AGF also has the Culls for the Future program wherein members are encouraged when taking a cull animal to the sale barn to designate the proceeds go to the AGF. Information on all of these programs is available on the AGA website on the Giving to the Foundation page under the Foundation tab.
On this page you will also find information on how to leave a legacy gift by designating the AGF as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, annuity or make an estate contribution by way of your written will or trust.
It is an honor to serve as the AGF President for 2017. On behalf of the entire AGF Board of Directors, we appreciate your continued support and gifts to the Foundation.
First off I just want to say that I hope everyone is having a good spring. There are a lot of events coming up in the American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) to be excited about! Western and Eastern regionals will kick the summer off, both are on June 2-4, with the Western Regional to be held in Las Animas, Colorado, and the Eastern Regional will be held in Batesville, Mississippi. I know both states are excited and working hard to make this year’s regional shows great. Following this, on the week of June 25-30, the AGJA Big Red Classic will be held in Grand Island, Nebraska. Not only are the facilities on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds exceptionally nice, but the junior board along with the Nebraska Gelbvieh Association have been working diligently to make this one of the best junior nationals so far. We really hope you plan to attend!
What I want to talk about though is a little different spin to this year’s Junior Classic. May is Beef Month and one thing I’m reminded of during Beef Month is the fact that we need to be advocates for the beef industry. This means that anytime the opportunity arises we need to promote—or even stick up for— the beef industry. What’s unique about Junior Classic this year is that the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships will be help on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds the same week that we will be there. This means that throughout the week there will be visitors coming through our barns. This is the perfect time for young advocates of the industry to step up. I’m sure these visitors will be asking questions about what you are doing, or why you are doing some of the things that you are. This is the time where positive responses as well as positive actions go a long way.
Finally, the IGS youth leadership conference will wrap the summer up on August 3-6 in Lincoln, Nebraksa. This is a conference that the American Junior Gelbvieh, Simmental, and Shorthorn Associations teamed up for, with the thought that it would be a great opportunity for our youth to not only learn more about the industry through classes and workshops, but it will also be a chance to be equipped with the skills to become future leaders. It’s no secret that we as juniors are the future of the industry. Opportunities such as this leadership conference is how we will develop into the best leaders we can be.
I hope everyone is looking forward toward summer and all the activities that will be taking place. Hope to see you there!
The feedyard business is a highly competitive industry with many moving parts. One of the key ingredients to that is being able to adjust to what the market is asking you to do. The market asks you to do something different with dollars, e.g., premiums, discounts, paying a feedyard to feed cattle longer, paying feedyard a to feed a shorter time period, etc. Because of this, you have to purchase cattle that allow for market flexibility.
One of the biggest reasons I prefer to feed Gelbvieh and Balancer® genetics is because the Continental and British cross cattle allow me more market flexibility. When you feed straight British cattle they become fat overnight. Therefore, you are at the mercy of the market to take whatever price you are offered and you lack negotiating power. On the flip side, with a pen of Gelbvieh-influenced steers you have a three to four week marketing window to sell the fat cattle while they are still making you money from a cost of gain standpoint. For instance, if you are bearish in the market you can sell them a week or two early or if you are bullish you can feed them for another week or two. They give you that versatility.
The biggest driver in the cattle industry is pounds and I believe will always be pounds. If you think about it, we sell cattle by the pound in every segment of our industry; we sell by the pound as feeders, fat cattle, hot carcass weight, and all meat sold to the retailer and eventually the consumer. The only constant is that we sell it all by the pound. Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle have the frame and the muscling to put that extra weight on efficiently and simply have a bigger out-weight from the feedyard than most breeds. The first thing every order buyer looks at when calves come in the salebarn ring is how much frame do they have.
Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle also allow you to hit a grid with good success and gain premiums. The biggest misconception of the industry is to make good money on a grid you need to have cattle that all go Choice. In my opinion, the groups of cattle that do the best on a grid don’t have any “out cattle”. Eliminate the Yield Grade 5’s and keep the 4’s under 10 percent. Eliminate Standard and keep Select under 30 percent. If there isn’t an animal in a pen that you get docked for you will make money on a grid. That should be the goal and not going extreme in any direction. Cattle that can grade over 70 percent Choice and Prime and have over 70 percent Yield grade 1’s and 2’s with no outs make money on any grid.
The final advantage to feeding Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle is disposition. Gelbvieh cattle are simply more docile than most other breeds. Many studies have shown that animals with calmer dispositions are more productive both on the ranch as well as in the feedyard and ultimately exhibit higher carcass value and greater tenderness. Most of the really poor closeouts come from cattle that are flighty.
At the end of the day every person that feeds cattle is in the business to make money. They look for cattle that can give them the opportunity to succeed. Gelbvieh and Balancer sired cattle give a feedyard the ability to market cattle when they want versus taking the market that week, thus they give you the ability to call your own shots. Gelbvieh and Balancer sired calves come with added frame and muscling to put on more pounds when the market is dictates just that.
The American Gelbvieh Foundation has developed the Steer Challenge and Scale and Rail Sire-Identified Carcass Contest for breeders and other Gelbvieh and Balancer® stakeholders to feed cattle. I think it is critical for every person in the seedstock business to feed cattle because it opens up your eyes to how a different segment of the business operates. I encourage everyone to participate in the future.
Eventually, there comes a time when each individual has to enter the job market to find a career that best suits them. Strengths and qualities for each individual may be different, but there’s endless opportunities and professions where their skills can be valued. Currently, I am in the
middles of this process, and one of my college professors presented some information I thought could be vital for being successful in finding the job I most desire. According to Job Outlook 2016 from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, over 70 percent of the employers
seek potential employees who show impressive written communication skills and approximately 69 percent desire future members of their staff to possess superior verbal communication qualities. Excellence in communication skills allow individuals to be a superb leader who make
it easy for people below to follow, or be able to effectively communicate with fellow employees while working on group projects. Both leadership and the ability to work in a team were at the top of the list as well.
Even if someone is their “own boss” when they manage a family-owned ranch or feedyard, there are countless reasons why it is still critical to possess professional communication attributes. The first one that comes to mind is customer relationships. Not only the ability to put on a sales pitch, but also being able to inform customers with general industry knowledge or trends in an educated manner can be invaluable when it comes to selling your stock. With the current Veterinary Feed Directive regulations that became effective January 1, it is vital to have a good veterinary-client relationship. Without getting into too many details, there’s a lot of paperwork and requirements that must be approved by the vet before some products can be used. This can make the process a bit of a headache, but if you possess the ability to effectively communicate
with your veterinarian, these new regulations should not cause too much grief. In the feedyard setting it is important you are communicating with not only your vet, but the pharmaceutical sales representative to ensure the product is being used in the correct or most efficient method. There’s a magnitude of other situations in these settings when superior communication skills can be valuable assets.
Strong communication abilities can also come in handy when it’s time to make breeding decisions. Talking with fellow cattle breeders and your area semen sales representative can provide you with information to help make the decision.
The American Gelbvieh Junior Association provides many opportunities for its members to improve their communication abilities. The sales talk competition gives the members a chance to work with customers in a realworld scenario, the judging contest requires contestants
to orally defend their placing decisions, the impromptu speaking contests help devlop the ability to think on your feet and the creative writing contest focuses on improving non-verbal communication. Hopefully, everyone realizes the importance of possessing superior verbal and written
communication attributes to be successful in whatever career path is ahead.
In today’s beef industry, there are many buzzwords: local, organic, and sustainable. These words are often used to compound what I like to call the drama effect, and this most often causes an emotional response. In this day and age, it seems most of us are too comfortable doing business as usual — like my dad, and his dad did things. Like most new technology in the beef industry, it seems that the first responders normally reap the benefits. The discussion on feed efficient cattle is still relatively new, but again, the first seedstock producers that acknowledged the need
are getting to set the standards within the industry and reap the rewards. One segment of efficiency that is almost non-existent today is efficiency within the cowherd. The main reason for this is the inability to gather data on grazing herds in different geographical regions across the country.
Efficiency in a cowherd could possibly be the kingpin within future beef production. To me, the word efficiency is synonymous with profitability. So, with regional requirements and locations being held neutral, profitability now takes center stage. Profitability on the ranch is determined primarily by two factors: 1. Pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed 2. Control of production costs, e.g., feed costs
Increasing costs associated with feeding supplements to the cowherd may lead to greater distinctions between economic and biologic efficiency. A proven and simple way to enhance biologic efficiency is to readily adopt heterosis into your cowherd. Heterosis is responsible for the largest improvements in lowly heritable traits. Balancer® cattle have been shown to be an efficient method to improve reproductive efficiency in commercial cowherds regardless of the region. All research points that the most cost effective way to improve efficiency in the cowherd is to select for the appropriate biologic type that fits your environment or region. With that said, they should also be crossbred or Balancer-based for the added benefits of maternal heterosis as well.
In other words, seedstock producers that are committed to improving their cowherd efficiency as well as their commercial customers better start simple. First and foremost, you should select a seedstock supplier that has a verified feed efficiency program intact. Educate yourselves on what selection indexes they place an emphasis and if this particular suppliers’ cattle will acclimate to your environment or region. The sooner you start to pay attention to the efficiency of your bull battery, the quicker your cowherd will follow suit. Reproductive success is just as important; the cowherd must breed and produce a highly marketable calf crop.
Utilizing body condition scores (BCS) is one of the easiest ways to get a feel for the productivity and fleshing ability of a grazing cowherd. This approach helps readily determine if your regional forage availability is meeting nutritional requirements demanded by the high reproductive levels desired on the ranch.
There are two very different mindsets on how to best achieve success when it comes to BCS and high levels of reproduction. First, is to feed the cowherd into a certain stage of somewhat forced production. I will let that thought sink in for a while, and you tell me if we all could be guilty of this one. Secondly, push our operations to find common ground with our individual environments or regions and see what they will support regarding biologic type or genotype.
So again I will ask, is your cowherd efficient? Be prepared and do your research concerning efficiency because it will ultimately affect your profitability. I know at the end of the day I will be in the second group and have a cowherd that can thrive in my environment and work for me, but also exceed the expectations in efficiency of any kind.
I found two articles to be helpful when researching the topic: proceedings from the Range Beef Cow Symposium titled “Feed Efficiency-How should it be used for the Cow Herd?” and “Using Genetics to Get More Efficient,” by Bob Weaber, Ph.D., cow-calf extension specialist with Kansas State University. With a little more digging, I’m sure you could find a couple more articles discussing the importance of cowherd efficiency for the future of the beef industry.
I hope that everyone’s 2017 is off to a great start! There are many upcoming American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) events for all of my fellow junior members and me to attend. For me, some of my favorite times each year are those spent at an AGJA event. From regionals to leadership conferences, there are so many ways to get incorporate the AGJA into your 2017 schedule.
To backtrack a bit, we kicked off our year with our annual donation raffle. The heifer raffle is the largest fundraising opportunity for the AGJA. We couldn’t pull this off and be successful without the help of so many supporters and enthusiastic members. I would like to thank Rippe Gelbvieh for donating pick-of-three heifers for us to raffle off. Their continued support is greatly appreciated. To all who purchased tickets from a junior member, I thank you as well. And last but not least, I want to say thank you to all the AGJA members who sold tickets. It is always exciting to see fellow juniors doing their part to help improve the AGJA.
The next big events on the AGJA calendar are the Eastern and Western regional shows. Our regional shows are a great way for juniors to get out and prepare and practice for the Junior Classic. Catching up with friends and taking part in a few contests are just some examples of the fun to be had at the regional shows. This year the Eastern Regional will be held in Batesville, Mississippi, June 2 to 4, 2017. Or, for those of you closer to Colorado, the Western Regional will be held in Las Animas, Colorado, also on June 2 to 4, 2017. The host committees have been hard at work preparing for our juniors.
My favorite part of summer is always my week spent at the AGJA Junior Classic. The Big Red Classic will be held in Grand Island, Nebraska. AGJA members will invade Grand Island June 25 to 30, 2017. Are you as excited as I am to see what our Nebraska Gelbvieh family has in store for us? I guarantee that you won’t want to miss it! Whether you’re showing cattle or want to make it in the Top Ten All-Around, there are so many great contests to take part in. And let’s not forget about sitting around the show box catching up with all our friends. I can’t wait!
To round out the summer, the AGJA will be taking part in the brand new IGS leadership conference called The Summit. For those AGJA members age 14-22 who are interested, start making plans to journey to Lincoln, Nebraska August 3-6, 2017. This multi-breed event will be a weekend full of learning and networking and is open to all youth in the beef industry. There will be more information coming soon, so stay tuned.
As 2017 continues, I challenge you to be as active with Gelbvieh as possible. There are many sales, state and national shows, field days, and other industry events that we can attend to stay up-to-date and informed. I look forward to seeing you all at a regional show and especially at Junior Classic!
Last month I started another semester at Iowa State University where I am double majoring in animal science and agriculture and society. During my time at Iowa State, I have been fortunate to be involved in many different groups and organizations. Some of my activities include taking part in Iowa State Freshmen Council, the University Honors Program, Vermeer International Leadership Program, and serving as an ambassador for the College of Agriculture. Through all of my experiences I have met a multitude of people, each with their unique background and experiences.
I grew up in a small town, like many of you, where everyone knows the same friendly culture and holds the same values and morals. I went to college with the mindset of meeting new people but expected them to still share many cultural similarities with me. I had not been prepared to be met with so much cultural diversity at the main agriculture university for the state of Iowa. I was not set back by all the diversity surrounding me; rather I saw it as an opportunity to be an advocate and share my story with others. College was my first true experience working with people who did not believe in or support the industry that was the livelihood of my family and many others in my home community.
Through the organizations I participate in at Iowa State, I work alongside students from all across the United States and the world. Each student has their own background and experiences that have influenced their perspective on many aspects of life. Working with people who share different values than you can be quite difficult, but the most important part to remember is to always be respectful. Often when having discussions with other students the topics of GMOs, CAFOs, organic vs. non-organic, and animal welfare were brought up. All of these issues are very
in-depth and have many scientific studies to back them up. However, the scientific data meant little to my classmates because they do not fully understand the situation; rather, their opinion is based on emotion. For many of my classmates, grass-fed animals seemed better than grain-fed because it seemed more natural to them, my classmates never considered the greater long-term environmental impact and land resources required for grass-fed. Being able to explain the situation in a way that people outside of agriculture can understand is going to be critical to the future success of the agriculture industry.
As a beef producer, it is my responsibility to share with others what actually occurs on my family’s beef operation and general aspects of production agriculture. This includes taking the time to explain why male animals are castrated, why antibiotics are used for livestock, and what the label hormone-free means. Many times these discussions tested my patience, but every time I reaffirmed that as livestock producers we CARE and we are CAPABLE of producing high-quality, wholesome food while providing the highest quality of animal welfare.
The ability to share your story with someone you may run into at a grocery store, sit next to on a plane, or meet at the doctor’s office is essential for promoting a positive aspect of agriculture. In today’s world people are constantly exposed to articles through social media platforms that tear down the animal industry and farming. Whether you are a seedstock producer, commercial cow-calf producer, feedlot manager, or grain farmer you all have a critical role in making sure there is a positive future for agriculture to hand down to the next generation of agriculturalists. Agriculture is continually changing from new advancements in technologies and new regulations, but there is no industry more rewarding than the agriculture industry.
The veterinary feed directive (VFD) discussion has been a hot topic in the beef industry for the past several months. January 1, 2017 is the date in which antibiotic regulations will change the way beef producers administer some types of antibiotics.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) hosted a recent webinar on the VFD. NCBA is committed to providing their membership and beef industry partners with education regarding topics that affect the way the beef industry does business.
To discuss the VFD in length, NCBA invited Mike Murphy, DVM, JD, Ph.D., Federal Drug Administration veterinary medical officer, officer of the director at the Center for Veterinary Medicine along with Tom Portillo, DVM, manager of animal health and wellbeing at Friona Industries. The two provided technical information, regulatory information, VFD practical application and held a question and answer session.
Diving into the Information
“To sum it all up, medically important drugs were defined, production claims for gain and feed efficiency are coming off of the label and there will be an increase or implementation of veterinarian oversight,” Portillo said.
The reason behind the movement towards VFD is complicated and is being made with respect to antimicrobial resistance. It’s an issue of use driven by the use of antibiotics in humans, animals, horticultural and others, according to Murphy.
“Although it’s been a subject of considerable scientific and policy debate for decades, things have continued to evolve. The intent of the agency was to address the public health concern while assuring animal’s needs are met,” Murphy said.
A VFD is a written, nonverbal statement issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice that orders the use of a VFD drug or combination VFD drug in or on animal feed. This is a written statement that authorizes the client (owner of the
animal or caretaker) to obtain and use animal feed bearing or containing a VFD drug or combination VFD drug to treat the client’s animals only in accordance with the conditions for use approved by the FDA.
In order to meet the January 1, 2017 VFD implementation date set for producers there must be prior cooperation with drug sponsors.
“December 2016 is the target for our drug sponsors to implement changes to use conditions of medically important antibiotics in food and water to withdraw approved production uses such as rate of gain or improved feed efficiency,” Murphy said. “After these label changes, these production uses will no longer be legal.”
While production uses will be no longer, therapeutic uses for the treatment, control and prevention of disease are still available. However, those listed as medically important antibiotics marketing status will be changed from over the counter to prescription or under the VFD. Antibiotics classified as medically important are those that are also for human-use. A complete list of the 292 applications that are affected can be found on the Center for Veterinary Medicine website, according to Murphy.
“Antibiotics that are not medically important to use in humans are not affected. Examples are ionophores, bacitracin, bambermycins and carbadox,” Murphy said. “ As well as other drugs that aren’t antibiotics that are used in feed such as anthelmintic, beta
agonists, non-antibiotic coccidiostats.”
“The VFD is an extension of the label. If it’s not on the label, it’s not legal,” Portillo said.
Strategies for Producers
“Everyone understands oversight, but in my opinion, consultation means to some degree that it’s going to be necessary that the veterinarian have at least a part in the design, execution and monitoring of situations where a VFD is required,” Portillo said.
The veterinary feed directive will be a part of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). Portillo said that the VCPR would be a critical point of VFD going forward.
“Before we get into a problem (cattle morbidity and mortality), we need to look at the VCPR as more of a partnership,” Portillo said.
To further explain, the veterinarian has assumed responsibility in the health program of their client’s operation. Knowledge of the client, production facility, production practices, and philosophies will be required. Timely visits to the operation will need to take place in order to maintain a familiarity with the operations.
“One key principle is that the vet doesn’t have to be involved in the administering of the drug, but does require the use to be authorized by a licensed veterinarian in the context of a VCPR,” Murphy said.
Portillo urges producers to establish a VCPR prior to January 1, 2017 if one has not already been established. They also need to think about if they will have feasible access to a veterinarian if a disease outbreak occurs along with access to a feed distributor/manufacturer capable of fulfilling their VFD-related request in a timely manner. He suggests working through a mock VFD exercise as if a disease outbreak was happening on an operation.
“Figure out as much of the logistics as you can before the rule takes effect,” Portillo said.
Understandably, a topic of this nature is impossible to cover completely in one article. If producers need more information on the VFD they are welcomed to go online to the NCBA antibiotic resource page,
which is under the Producer Education tab on www.beefusa.org. As previously cited, the application list and other vital information can be found on the Center for Veterinary Medicine website at http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm071807.htm.
Change. Grow. Progress. You can’t have one without the others, and the agriculture industry is one that perfectly displays this. Our industry is one that is always changing. Farmers and ranchers are being challenged to increase output on limited resources; and in response, technologies are improving to increase the efficiency of crop and livestock production. Consumers are demanding more information on the safety of their food products, so farm and ranch organizations and individual producers are working to educate consumers to help increase their confidence in the food that they feed their families. Things are constantly changing, and although it may not seem like it, you have a voice in how they change. If there are regulations being enacted, don’t hesitate to call your state representatives to have your opinions and concerns heard. Attend Farm
Bureau meetings, become involved in your state beef associations, and actively be involved in the changes being made within this industry that you are so heavily involved in.
These same ideas apply to changes within the American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA). As a board, it is our job to represent the membership and make sure those concerns are being addressed and needs are being met. It is important that we remember our values, where we came from, and make goals to help us move forward and make progress. For us to best serve you, it is important that you contact members of the board and visit with them about your association. Attend events like the AGA National Convention, regional shows, Jr. Classic, committee meetings, and leadership conferences where members from the board will be present and start a conversation. Tell us about your goals for growth, change, and progress within our association. At POWER Conference this year, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a group of very active members of the AGJA to do just that. We talked about the reasons that we chose to become involved with, and more importantly stay involved with the AGJA; we discussed what roles we as junior members played within the AGA and the beef industry. Finally, we talked about places that we thought improvements could be made within our breed and association. The following list provides some of the points that we decided were most important to us as a membership:
Invest in the Youth: We are an association of young beef producers, and soon the challenge of feeding the nine billion people will rest on our shoulders. It is important that we provided our members with all of the resources available to help prepare them for this challenge.
Member Participation: The opportunities within the AGJA are endless; you just have to take advantageof them. Grow your involvement and leadership by becoming active committee members, participating in contests at Jr. Classic, and representing the AGJA at state sales and shows.
Association Growth: Like I said earlier, we can’t have progress without growth. Promote the association and talk about the benefits of membership to help grow member numbers. Promote the cattle and what they do for the profitability of your herd to help increase our registration numbers.
Strive to Improve: Take advantage of improvements in technologies, such as Genomic-Enhanced Expected Progeny Differences. Bring outside genetics into your herd with embryo transfer and AI. Continue to make goals for your herd and work to achieve them.
Be the Conduit: As young adults, we serve as the connection between the older and younger generations. It is important that we keep producers connected with one another, regardless of age. It is also our duty to remember where our association has come from, and have faith in where we are going.
Family: The one word that describes the AGJA better than any others. We have each other’s back, we support one another. We cheer each other’s success and mourn losses with them. We grow and change together. We are a family.
This list, plus a few more points, will serve as the foundation to the AGJA’s long-range strategic plan. Let it be the map to help the AGJA Board of Directors better serve their membership and move the association in a progressive direction. This 5-year plan will be presented at our annual meeting at the Big Red Classic, but drafts are currently being written up and revised. If you have things that you want to see changed within our association, values you want to be sure are remembered, or steps you think need taken to improve and grow the AGJA, make your voice heard. Contact your AGJA Board of Directors, get involved with the new committees, or run for the Jr. Board this summer. Know that for progress to be made, growth and change must occur, and please, be a part of that change.
Columbia, South Carolina
Gelbvieh and Balancer Open Show: 10/20/2016
Open Show Judge: Mike McGuire, Waverly, Alabama
Gelbvieh and Balancer Junior Show: 10/22/2016
Junior Show Judge: John Rayfield, College Station, Texas
Reported by: Cindy Durham
Open Show Results
Grand Champion Heifer
GGGE 3G Crimson Cowgirl 583C
Connor Durham, Belton, SC
Sire: GGGE 3G EZ Money 209Z
Reserve Grand Champion Heifer
RAAB BCGF Ms. Star 13C
Karen Eby, Duncan, SC
Sire: SAV Brilliance 8077
Grand Champion Bull
SDSC Mr. Handy Man
Karen Eby, Duncan, SC
Sire: CRAN Buddy Boy T729
Reserve Grand Champion Bull
SDSC Mr. Charming
Karen Eby, Duncan, SC
Sire: SAV Bismarck 5682
Junior Show Results
Grand Champion Heifer
RAAB BCFG Ms. Star 13C
Karen Eby, Duncan, SC
Sire: SAV Brilliance 8077
Reserve Grand Champion Heifer
WALV Brendy Hill Reba
Hannah White, Greenwood, SC
Sire: TJB 241Y Reflex 349A
Evolution: the dictionary has numerous definitions pertaining to this word. No, I’m not going to be giving a science lesson here, but it does have a significant meaning as it pertains to Gelbvieh and the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA). The primary definition means, “a process of change in a certain direction.”
Let’s for a moment look back in time as it relates to the evolution of the cowherd we now have here in the United States. First, we had the Texas Longhorns. These cattle were responsible for the development of the first cattle ranches and the first markets. Now as time went by, some well-known ranchers of that time period had the inspiration to improve the quality of the Longhorns. To accomplish this, they brought to the United States the English breeds of Hereford, Shorthorn, and Angus to cross on the Longhorns, which resulted in the
start of a crossbred commercial cowherd. The ranchers saw an immediate improvement in temperament, appearance and beef quality. So much so, that the decision was made to breed up to either a straightbred Hereford, Angus or Shorthorn. These three became the dominant breeds of the early livestock industry, and today, fall into the second definition of evolution, which is stated as a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse state to a higher, more complex, or better state.
Much like the early ranchers, some thought there were better livestock breeds out there to produce faster growing, heavier muscled feeder cattle and at the same time improve the milking ability of the cowherd— enter the Continental breeds.
One person that comes to mind for me is a member of the AGA Hall of Fame, Leness Hall. I had the good fortune of getting to become very close with Leness and had numerous conversations about the cattle business. It was during one of those conversations when I asked him why he chose Gelbvieh.
Before Nelson Gelbvieh Ranch was started and Leness became the manager, he held the title of breed procurement for Carnation Genetics. Carnation, through its research to find other breeds, had decided to send Leness to Europe, specifically to locate a breed called Simmental. While he was traveling across Europe, he noticed a dark yellow set of cows that really impressed him. Not knowing for sure what they were, his guide and he pulled into the small farm and asked the owner what he called those cows in his paddock. The farmer told Leness that they were Gelbvieh. This sparked his interest and more research was done, and as we know, they became a part of the initial importation of semen to the United States.
How many of us, as we drive down the road on a trip to somewhere, like Leness, wonder about the genetic makeup of the cows roaming the pasture along the highway? Sure, it’s easy to identify the Herefords, Charolais, and black baldies but after that, it becomes an educated guess. Our reason for wanting to know what they are is because of the outstanding set of calves with this group of cows. From our standpoint, they must be Gelbvieh or Balancer®-cross cows. We can say this because we know from experience and
research data, that Gelbvieh are the maternal breed. For Leness, that was the deciding factor. Of all the breeds he researched in Europe, none matched the superior maternal traits he saw in the Gelbvieh breed.
This issue focuses on the elite cows in the AGA database. In the future, and as part of the next long-range strategic plan, I feel it’s important that we further recognize superior females. Not only the cows that qualify for Dams of Merit and Dams of Distinction but also highlight the cows that have a significant impact on the genetic base of this breed, much like we do with the most heavily-used sires. As time has evolved, the tracking of maternal genetics has become more relevant, not only to Gelbvieh and Balancer breeders but also to commercial producers who want to develop a more efficient cowherd.
I started this article talking about evolution, and I may have wandered some, but the Gelbvieh cow we know today is not the same as the original. The process of evolution takes place over time and because these changes occur in small increments they can go unnoticed. For that reason, it’s important for the AGA to continue to monitor the effects of genetics and environment and at the same time, implement new research, keep abreast of industry demands, adapt to changing technologies and develop new programs to advance our place in the industry.
I would encourage every member to attend the AGA Annual Meeting in Lincoln. This meeting allows for the input of the membership with their participation in the committee meetings. Here is where the initial draft of the next long-range strategic plan will be presented by topic in each committee meeting. So rather than having to grasp the whole plan, individual aspects can be discussed and focused on, thus eliminating the chance to get sidetracked.
We have talked about evolution as it pertains to the Gelbvieh cow, so too does evolution relate to the AGA. Like the early ranchers, who envisioned a better type of cattle, we as members of this association must also have a vision for our future. The need to evolve is paramount to the future of the AGA. I’ll again state the second definition of evolution with a little twist, a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse state to a higher, more complex, or better state of GROWTH.
I want to recount something that happened to me on a recent flight to Denver. This flight originated in Watertown, South Dakota, with a stop in Pierre. Here is where things became interesting. After an additional 14 people had boarded and a little time elapsed, the captain shut down
the plane’s engines. Now having flown numerous times, not once on any of those flights did the plane’s engines ever shut off. A passenger then said, “must be saving fuel.” I thought to myself, not likely.
After a considerable amount of time, the pilot came on the intercom and told us the computer that runs the GPS system was not working, but not to worry, we will still make the flight to Denver employing Flintstone navigation. For those that don’t remember the Flintstones, and in particular Fred, I now began to worry, because Fred Flintstone had a way of getting lost on almost every adventure he ever took. The pilot’s statement of using landmarks to get to Denver seemed logical, but he forgot one thing that made this seem an impossible accomplishment; that one forgotten thing was the cloud cover. The landmarks that I presumed he was going to use were interstate highways and rivers; both of which could be seen from 30,000 feet. Having flown over this area and driven through it, I know that both landmarks run east to west. When the cloud cover cleared and I looked down, I saw as we flew over one of the rivers that we were in a perpendicular position to the river; course correction occurred. The next landmark was Interstate 80, but this splits off to I-76. Yep, we followed I-80 for a while. Soon realizing the mistake, we altered our course again. This time, we found I-76. Hurray! We’re on the right path to Denver.
Much like a plane’s GPS system is critical to fly the correct course under heavy cloud cover, the annual meeting works to steer the AGA in the correct direction for the success of the AGA membership and customers. Because, in a way, this meeting sets the GPS for the AGA
staff and AGA Board of Directors to pursue the correct course. The committee meetings, the discussion and actions taken are and always have been the guideline for the future of the AGA.
Another critical function of the annual meeting is the election of AGA Board of Directors members. By and thru, this process brings fresh ideas and ways of looking at things. So I encourage everyone to read the board candidate bios, cast your vote in person and vote for the candidates that you feel can best serve, navigate and land the AGA into the future. As the pilot pointed out, following the old way is not the best, because it is a way to get off course.
Summertime is behind us and school is up and going. The Gelbvieh industry had a jam-packed summer full of leadership events and cattle shows. Maybe for your family the best shows are yet to come or maybe your favorite show heifer has been grazing in the pasture for months now. Who knows, school might even be a time where the world slows down and you have time to think about what’s next on the agenda.
However, the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) never stops and new events come up each month. One event that is coming up on the horizon is the 46th Annual American Gelbvieh Association National Convention. This year’s convention will be held November 30 through December 2, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel. The national convention is the time for the AGA to review the year and discussthe completion of their goals set for the breed at last year’s convention. It is also a time for the Association to create new goals and discuss areas that need improvement in our breed association through committee meetings, board meetings and educational programs. This year we are encouraging AGJA members to make the trip to Lincoln and sit in on convention meetings to learn more about the agenda for the upcoming year as well as what you can do to make a positive impact in our breed association.
A topic that may come about at this year’s convention is the use of genomics in our industry and the vast role it implies today. Genomics is the study of the entire set of genes in a living organism such as a Gelbvieh beef cow. These array of genes allow us to better determine the growth and development of our cattle. How does this benefit a producer? Genomics help clear up what was once unknown. We can now work to predict the profitability of each calf or we can trait select for certain things such as tenderness or marbling. The result is being able to help the average producer make more efficient decisions to maximize their profitability.
Genomics isn’t necessarily a requirement in today’s industry, however it is a tool that is waiting at our fingertips if we decide to use it, which is exactly what a number of AGA members have done over the past few years. Researchers have developed testing that encompasses a mass amount of genes that unveil a lot of what a breeder and buyer need to know about their cattle.
Genomics has stepped beyond just being used in the seedstock industry. It’s being used by some feedyards to gain a competitive advantage by using data to see which animals might produce higher quality meat vs the animals that will take longer to develop. This is just another example of the increased involvement of technology in today’s society. Every day research is being conducted to see how efficient we are in our methods. People are constantly looking for new ways to improve their practices. Of course, all of this is done with the same task in mind, feeding the rapidly growing population set to hit 9.5 billion by 2050. With constant advances in technology, producers are motivated that this “impossible” task will quickly become a worry of the past and our agriculture industry will continue to thrive.
Did you attend the American Gelbvieh Association National Convention last year held in Kansas City? Did you know that convention attendance and voting at the AGA annual meeting was more than doubled last year compared to the year before? The time is now to become part of the excitement at the AGA, advance your operation and maximize the benefit of your AGA membership.
Everywhere you look, someone is talking about the general election. As a U.S. citizen, you have the right to vote on candidates and ballot initiatives that impact you. As important as that may sound, only 53.6 percent of U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote did so in the 2012 general election. The U.S. only ranks 27th in the world among more developed countries in voting percentage.
Equate the general election to the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA). The parallels include: farmers and ranchers like living in the U.S., they understand that being in the cattle business is a way of life, and know an election outcome does influence their financial wellbeing and can change the value and marketing of their product. So then it would make sense that AGA members would want to participate in the AGA National Convention to help shape the future of the Gelbvieh and Balancer® breed and vote to elect leaders of our association? After all, wouldn’t your one of 1,000 votes as an AGA member more greatly impact your livestock operation than your one of 318 million votes impact your U.S. citizenship? But here’s the bad news, while the participants doubled last year at our national convention compared to the prior year, still only about 12 percent of the AGA membership participated in the annual meeting. As you can see, we still have work to do.
The cattle breed association world is well documented for being difficult to maneuver and unify due to the wide range of size of operations, geographic diversity, goals set by each breeder for their respective operations and the purpose for being an association member. That difficulty is magnified by rapid changes in scientific advancement, weather conditions, and of course, monumental changes in cattle markets. Right now producers are grasping for every dollar available at each stage of the beef supply chain. The services available through the AGA are beneficial for identifying where those dollars can be found.
Perhaps one of the most important convention topics this year will be the presentation of a new strategic plan. Now, more than ever, the AGA has an obligation to the beef industry to provide sound science for
genetic selection, proficient management tools for members and customers as well as marketing avenues and tools, not only for AGA members but also our commercial industry customers. In the future, the AGA also needs to consider potential services for the feeder and packer sector of the industry. Over the past two years, AGA has clearly begun focusing on participating in the beef industry as a contributor of genetic, management and marketing tools at a much higher level. AGA has aligned with industry partners such as National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, CattleFax and RFD TV to broaden AGA’s demographic reach. The AGA has further developed partnerships with video auction companies and traditional sale barns to identify and highlight Gelbvieh and Balancer genetics. DNA tools for commercial ranchers, such as the Maternal Edge Female Profile, and herd management capability through $mart Select Service is now available.
The AGA, like most breeds, has made directional changes over the years. Over time leadership in any membership organization can change, which makes it difficult to stay the course. The complete support of the AGA membership will accelerate the speed at which we can grow as a viable source of genetic information and industry service. That support starts with each member participating in events like AGA National Convention. Committee meetings held at convention provide an avenue for members to learn about each segment of the AGA and allows breeders to directly address leadership regarding particular matters like breed improvement, AGA marketing, finance and national events. The annual meeting gives members a voting voice to elect the AGA Board of Directors. The staff has also worked diligently to prepare educational programs and tours relevant to all AGA stakeholders.
Just like exercising your right to vote as a U.S. citizen in the general election, the time is now for you to attend the AGA National Convention. The time is now to solidify your place in the beef industry as a seedstock supplier and shape the future of the AGA.
I cordially invite each of you to attend the 46th Annual AGA National Convention and annual meeting.
Beef cattle breed associations are proving that they can, and will service the beef industry far beyond the seedstock sector. The American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) provides many services to the commercial cattle producer. As any business owner knows, you are not successful unless your customers are successful and satisfied. So why not provide the AGA members and their customers the tools necessary to be successful?
The beef industry has known for years the importance of collecting data at the seedstock level but is also finding the value in gathering information for commercial operations as well. Collecting information can help find the management practices that are producing the best results as well as the inefficiencies in the operation. Addressing those inefficiencies is sometimes as simple as cutting spending, other times, it means using modern technology to help manage the operation. Then there is always the conversation that starts with the question, “Is it worth it?”
Before answering that question, we first must consider what modern technologies are available to the commercial cattle producer. The answer, Smart Select Service and the Maternal Edge DNA panel, both provided through the AGA. Smart Select Service and the Maternal Edge DNA panel complement each other very well concerning breeding selection and herd management.
Smart Select Service gives the commercial producer the power to select the best breeding stock they have to be the future leading females. Our visual evaluation of animals and our intuition does serve us well when selecting high-quality animals. However, there are those unforeseen traits that can be discovered by using Smart Select Service. Measuring weights, tracking growth, following top producing bloodlines, and many other traits can tell a producer so much about their cows. In these past few years, bull prices have stimulated the question, “Are these bulls I’m
investing in truly producing the quality of calves I have selected him for?” Tracking the progeny’s performance will show what that bull or bulls are actually producing. Smart Select Service will manage the herd data, but how do you know the program is worth having? The data collected is run in the National Cattle Evaluation along with all the registered cattle from breed associations in the multi-breed evaluation. What that means is the commercial herds will have genetic tools which are more accurate because they are compared against more animal’s performance data. This program opens up so many opportunities for producers. So many incredible things are discovered from data that puts thoughts into a different perspective and redirects how cattle are managed. One of the most interesting facts of Smart Select Service is that it is available to any breed of cattle. This is possible because the AGA runs the data through the multi-breed evaluation.
The Maternal Edge DNA Panel is a great tool to follow up with Smart Select Service. The low-density DNA panel is designed to select Gelbvieh-influenced females to be the top replacement heifers. The Maternal Edge DNA profile evaluates heifers on six traits: calving ease, maternal calving ease, weaning weight, yield grade, marbling, and carcass weight.
DNA testing tells us what our eyes fail to see when we are standing in person looking at that animal. DNA testing is becoming more important because it is verification. As cattle producers head to bull sales, they see more bulls with Genomic-Enhanced EPDs (GE-EPDs). When producers are buying young bulls with GE-EPDs, they are buying bulls will more accurate EPDs than a bull without GE-EPDs. Some commercial producers now expect to see the GE-EPDs and will only buy bulls with genetic testing. So if producers expect to see the genetic information on their bulls, why should producers settle for anything less on the females in their herd. The most elite females and males, AI sires and donor dams, have DNA testing to anticipate that their genetics are going to be very repeatable and predictable. If the beef industry follows the example of the pork and poultry industry, advancing genetic progress will become the forefront of every selection decision.
To answer the initial question, “Is it worth it?” When looking at the initial investment, Smart Select Service is only a $1 per head. Now that seems like a reasonable enrollment fee doesn’t it? But is that really the only interpretation of that question, the initial investment? Another way to answer that question is to think about the value of getting to know each individual animal. If a producer knows each animal and has the phenotype and genomic data to back up breeding and management decisions to become more efficient, what value can you place on that?
Do your cattle sell for the average price? Do you ponder the thought of why some cattle sell for more than other cattle selling on the same day, that are seemingly the same? The better question is, what steps are you taking to ensure your cattle are reaching their full marketable value?
The fundamental value drivers of cattle health, weight, growth, efficiency and carcass value really do not change. However, words like “value-added” have taken on many different appearances over time. Most of us remember the beginning of USDA process verified programs (PVP). The most common PVP was source and age verification that once automatically added dollars to the bottom line. Now that age verification is less of an issue, it is much more common to see documentation of certifications playing a role in the final price of cattle. Those certifications may include: certified all-natural, humane handling, or documented vaccination protocols, which are certainly all common practices developed over recent years. Perhaps, what is more interesting is that fewer producers capitalize on programs that set them apart from the average when
cattle prices are at the highest point. As markets soften, ranchers are more likely to take extra steps to ensure their cattle bring the highest dollar amount possible.
Since prices peaked for the current market cycle back in 2014, ranchers and farmers are continuing to look for new mechanisms for putting distance between their cattle and the market average. What about science and prediction? Perhaps the most beneficial strategies for building prestige for producing the most sought after feeder cattle that demand better than average price or reputable high-level replacement females that garner premiums in the market can be found through genetic selection.
The American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) can assist producers with tools for management and genetic improvement through Smart Select Service (SSS). Recording the data points is simple and something that most producers already do as routine management practices. Examples of data points that producers need to record to benefit from SSS are individual cow identification numbers and birth dates, from their ranchers can record as much information as is suitable for their own operations.
What predictive information is provided by SSS? Feeder profit index (FPI) is indicative of how feeder cattle will perform in the feedyard. FPI is calculated from EPDs that most producers use in the bull buying process. Cow-calf producers can compare their cattle to the rest of the Gelbvieh and Balancer® population for FPI and make the decision of applying selection pressure for traits like growth, marbling and feed efficiency that directly impact the FPI measured in their cowherd through SSS. The mother cows on your ranch can also achieve a STAY score when enrolled in SSS; that is indicative of cow productivity over time. Applying selection pressure toward STAY EPD and the $Cow index will help increase that STAY score. As you can see, obtaining the ability to measure your cows’ genetic progress may speed the rate of genetic advancement and keep pace with the Gelbvieh and Balancer population, which is steadily improving, indicated in the graphics. Genetic information along with routine management information can all be recorded in $mart Select Service available through AGA.
I think we can all agree that it takes more than one small practice to build the high-quality distinction cattle producers are striving to achieve. A modern beef industry demands sound practices in herd health protocols, historical performance as well as genetic advancement. Why not allow the AGA to assist you, through SSS, in documenting your sound management procedures and genetic progress? If you put into your cowherd the power of information, what you get out of your cowherd can be the difference between getting lost in the mass of average cattle and being recognized and paid for supplying the best possible cattle on the market.
Growing up in the center of cow-calf country, I have gained respect and understanding for cattle breeders and for the amount of time and the work put into each calving season. I’m also reminded that I am thankful for the Gelbvieh breed because I have learned the importance of raising the right breed fit for the environment. Choosing the right breed for an operation will help make your herd best for the goals and purposes you set for your operation.
I have grown up on our family’s farm that was started by my great-grandpa and has been passed down to family members since then. My uncle currently runs the farm with the help of my younger brother and cousin. We now run around 200 head of registered and commercial Gelbvieh and Balancer® cattle. It is a family farm where we all contribute to helping out any way we can, not only do we raise cattle but each of the grandkids show at both national and local fairs. All my life I’ve grown up around Gelbvieh cattle and have learned the ins and outs of the breed from the cow-calf operation standpoint to the showing standpoint as well. With all that being said, that’s why I know and believe that the Gelbvieh breed is one the best choices you can make putting it in your herd. Gelbvieh can have such a significant impact in the cow-calf industry and to the producers. Here in Missouri, we have warm summers and cold winters and some unpredictable weather changes in-between, Gelbvieh cows adapt easily to the different weather. The most important thing about putting this breed into your cow-calf operation is their maternal qualities that include fertility, milk and calving ease. Gelbvieh were used in Germany as milk cows before they were brought over to the United States, which makes sense that they have a good milk yield. Not only is Gelbvieh good from the mothering standpoint but also in the growth and replacement side too. The breed is also known for their weaning and yearling growth as well. Not to mention they are known for more pounds of calf weaned per cow. Now, why would you not want this breed in your cow-calf operation?
I have witnessed first hand this breed having a positive impact on our family’s herd. So when it came time for me to start my own herd, there was no doubt in my mind that I would start my herd with Gelbvieh cattle. That year I took out a USDA loan and bought my first few cows to start my herd. From there, I watched the amazing abilities of this breed and got to witness it in my operation. One vivid memory was when I watched one my first-calf heifers give birth to twins in the middle of winter. To most producers, red flags would start popping up in their head when I said a first-calf heifer having twins in the midst of winter. My uncle, cousin, and brother went out and moved the new mom and babies into the barn to keep them warm and he watched them as the days went on. Him and I watched them grow day by day. We watched a new mother claim, raise and care for both of her calves. From this experience and many others, is why I am confident in the Gelbvieh breed and the positive influence and impact it can make in the cow-calf industry and a producer’s herd. With their natural abilities and traits, there’s no doubt that Gelbvieh cattle would make a difference in anyone’s cow-calf operation.
Any cattle producer knows that margins are getting increasingly tighter even in the most successful beef operations. Savvy producers are constantly assessing inputs into their business, looking for places to become more efficient. It’s at times like these breeders may ask whether being part of a breed association worth the cost.
Breed associations in the United States formed in the early 1900s as a way to keep track of pedigrees for purebred animals. Since that time, breed associations have evolved to store and process huge amounts of data used for large-scale genetic evaluation on every animal in the database. Such evaluations are beneficial for every sector of the beef industry, as high performing seedstock for economically relevant traits can speed genetic improvement in commercial animals bound for the food supply chain. Economically relevant traits have grown to include not only end-product traits, such as carcass weight or rib eye area but also include traits to measure cowherd efficiency, such as Stayability or Heifer Pregnancy. Such traits are vital to the bottom line of any operation, ensuring the most efficient animals possible remain in production. Efficiency in this way decreases the cost of production by decreasing input cost derived from developing heifers who don’t breed or buying replacements for animals that remain in the herd only a short amount of time. Further efficiency for commercial producers can be found in seedstock evaluations that are comparable across many breeds, such as the International Genetic Solutions multi-breed evaluation. Such evaluations make Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) comparable across breeds such as Gelbvieh and Balancer®, Simmental, Red Angus, and Limousin, making the search for the right bull even easier for commercial producers.
In addition to traditional genetic selection tools like EPDs, breed associations have begun to incorporate huge amounts of genomic data into their evaluations. Such data helps explain more variance for each trait, leading to higher accuracy selection tools for producers. High accuracy genomic-enhanced EPDs benefit commercial producers by reducing risk when it comes to buying young bulls for breeding. Genomic enhancements are often the equivalent of several calving records, making the performance of animals more predictable. Genomic data was traditionally cumbersome to incorporate into genetic evaluation because of the high volume of data. Now, however, large evaluations are moving toward methods to incorporate genomic data all in one step. This so-called “one step” method will revolutionize genetic evaluation by using both genetic and pedigree data at the same time, creating a more accurate evaluation for all animals. Such a transition is possibly the greatest advancement in beef cattle evaluation in over 20 years.
Breed associations are also transitioning to collect more data from the commercial sector. Traditionally, the data flow stopped after animals were sold into the commercial market. Now, however, commercial programs are being developed to collect performance data from the cowherd that can be used to give information on seedstock animal performance. All sectors of the industry can benefit greatly from this type of integration, as more information leads to more accurate selection tools to accelerate genetic improvement. Commercial producers can even add genomic information to their herds through ultra-low density panels that test for useful subsets of genomic data. Having both genetic and performance information all in one place on animals enables commercial producers to pull reports that indicate the performance of each cow and how useful they are to the herd.
With the ever changing markets, some seedstock breeders may be looking for alternatives to breed associations to calculate their selection tools, such as a within-herd evaluation. While such alternatives may seem appealing to some breeders, the argument could be made that such evaluations only increase expense for producers. Breed association evaluations have the benefit of cutting edge technology, input from industry leaders in animal breeding and genetics, constant quality control, and continuous research into novel
economically relevant traits. Very few (if any) within herd evaluations have access to such advancements. If the goal is to provide reliable, easy to use selection tools to the commercial producer for industry-wide genetic advancement, multi-breed association evaluations are an
So, while some producers might be questioning if it’s worth the cost to be part of a breed association, maybe the real question is: can they afford not to be? More importantly, can our commercial beef industry stakeholders afford to miss out on the valuable genetic
information breed associations provide to maximize efficiency in their operations?
The phrase, “The future of the beef industry,” gets tossed around a lot. That phrase can refer to technology, cattle markets, advancement it genetics, and on, and on. The truth is, the future of the beef industry lies in the next generation of cattle producers.The “kids” of today will be the leaders, the decision makers, and the innovators of this industry in the next 20 years. Ultimately, the best thing we can to for the future of the beef industry is to develop our youth.
As I write this article, I am at the AGJA Junior Classic in Stillwater, Oklahoma. While watching them compete in the different contests throughout the week I am excited for the future. The AGJA is so much more than a cattle show. These young people also compete in sales talk competitions, impromptu speaking, photo and poster contests, livestock judging, quiz bowl, and skill-a-thon contests.
Each of these contest teach the young people life skills that will prepare them for the careers no matter what direction they take. The sales talk contest teaches the juniors that we all sell every day. We may be selling bulls to our customers or feeders calves to an order buyer off the farm. Another example is we also sell ideas or try to convince people to go along with our ideas. If you have ever worked to convince anyone of anything, you have been involved in sales.
It has been written that the most common fear is public speaking. The impromptu speaking contest helps these young people overcome their fears at an early age and the contest teaches the ability to communicate effectively. In this techno world we live, we see so many kids staring at a screen of some kind and they can’t communicate except through texting. An employer or customer is going to expect more from these young people than OMG, LOL, # and emoji faces.
The photo and poster contest encourages the youth to be creative. One of the most important things in the world of livestock marketing is to have great photos. I’m sure we have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s true; that could be 1,000 positively speaking words or 1,000 negative words. The poster contest teaches the juniors to have vision and to make that vision a reality. Creative thinking is what moves us all forward. It took some very creative thinking to develop the automobile or the first computer.
There are so many life lessons learned in livestock judging. First, the youth learn what aspects of the cattle’s phenotype are truly important. Second, they learn how to prioritize characteristics and make decisions based on their observations. Finally, the contestants learn to defend their decisions through oral reasons.
The skill-a-thon and quiz bowl contests teaches kids basic, everyday information related to the livestock industry, such as equipment identification, reproduction and terminology. The youth spend many hours preparing for these competitions learning a wide spectrum of information.
And finally, the show; there are so many lessons to be learned from showing cattle. The value of hard work, good sportsmanship, the value of preparation, the joy of victory, the disappointment of failure, and the fact that life isn’t always fair. I think if you ask 1,000 people what they learned from showing cattle you probably would get 1,000 different answers.
The next generation that is currently being raised is full of children that feel the world owes them something. They, in many cases, haven’t had to work for much and expect for others to take care of them. They have too little respect and way too much ego. If we want the future of the beef industry to be great we have to raise great kids, it’s that simple. The AGJA Junior Classic is a family event that is designed to create leaders for the future. In the words of Jim Blackwell, a parent of a former a AGJA board member “We’re hauling cattle and raising kids.”
For many of our families the summer is filled with baling hay, fixing fence, going to cattle shows, and a hundred other tasks that need to be done on the farm. While most days become very long and tiring, it is always exciting getting ready for another show. Of all the shows that are
attended during the summer months Gelbvieh Junior Classic is the best.
Junior Classics are not just “another” cattle show, it’s a reunion of friends and family, a time to test your true knowledge of the industry, exhibit the cattle you have spent months working with all while creating memories that will stay with you forever.
Preparing for junior nationals seems like an endless process between time spent in the barn getting cattle ready, loading everything in the trailer, capturing the perfect photo, and studying for quiz bowl it feels like you may never be fully prepared. You start getting cattle ready months before junior classic actually arrives and you begin contest preparation as soon as school ends for the summer. The moment you pull out of the driveway, hoping you remembered everything, you are filled with a mixture of anticipation to see friends and anxiousness for how the events of the week will play out.
It was exciting watching all the families pull into Stillwater and begin to unload their trailers, knowing that we had a week packed with fun contest and events for all the juniors. While the first day was spent settling in and catching up with friends, Monday kicked of early with sales talk contest in the morning and quiz bowl in the afternoon.
As the contest were underway it was encouraging to see the older members help the younger members whether it was with words of advice, a pep talk before going into a contest, or a helping hand with fitting an animal. While every junior will remember their junior classic experience a little differently, they will never forget the time someone took out of their day to help them. The week of junior nationals is not just about showing cattle; it’s about gaining life-long skills and learning to appreciate hard work.
Junior classic gives juniors unique opportunities. Junior classic empowers juniors to go beyond their comfort zone and test their skills. The friendly and encouraging environment created by the parents, junior board, and other peers makes it easier for juniors to try something new and more challenging. In one week spent at junior nationals we can give juniors the knowledge, skill-set, and inspiration to become emerging leaders within the Gelbvieh breed.
No other week in the year can compare to the unforgettable week spent at junior nationals. It’s a week surrounded with juniors that have the same passion and love for the Gelbvieh breed, and the drive to work with others to improve and grow the breed. By the end of the week exhaustion starts to set in, but no matter whom you speak with they don’t want the week to end. The Oklahoma and Kansas Gelbvieh Associations did a phenomenal job of hosting the Dirt Road Classic and making it a week that will never be forgotten. Thank you to everyone that helped put on a successful junior classic event!
It is hard to deny that we are in an extremelydynamic presidential election year. And while I believe in refraining from talk of politics at the dinner table (or in magazine columns) I think there are important takeaways from how we as Americans support a candidate of our choosing during an election. As socially responsible voting citizens, we invest a great deal of time supporting and campaigning for our preferred candidate. As agriculturists, and more broadly entrepreneurs, we are invested and active in the political process because often times our business climate and livelihoods depend on the outcome. We believe in investing our most valuable resource of time in a candidate that we want to lead us into the future. We volunteer, attend rallies, tune-in for debates, buy tables at fundraisers, immerse ourselves in the issues and celebrate every victory. We do all of this for that one candidate that we believe will protect our livelihood, promote our product and preserve our heritage. While there may be some debate on the most qualified candidate in the November election, in July there is a candidate that we all can agree on…the American Gelbvieh Junior Association.
After all, as the culminating event for the junior membership of our breed, the AGJA Classic has all of the enthusiasm and opportunity of a party’s national convention. However, do not let the typical fanfare fool you; the AGJA Classic is about far more important successes than results of the cattle show. The annual AGJA Classic is a compilation of satellite event opportunities, leadership activities, and mentorship for both juniors and adults. As a junior and adult who has participated and attended similar
“junior national” events in seven breeds, I speak from experience when I say that our junior national is simply unmatched by our purebred counterparts. As you look at a crosssection of our exhibitors, they come from generations of good cattlemen and women and more importantly
good people whose “vacation” is a week spent at an AGJA Classic. The most sought after award is not a purple banner but the quiz bowl bull statue; not the slap of Supreme Female but the title of All-Around Champion.
If this type of atmosphere intrigues you, keep in mind, being a parent of a junior participant is not a prerequisite for adult involvement at the AGJA Classic. The simplest way to support these “candidates” is by attending the junior event to become a part of the excitement and enthusiasm. Your presence is recognized and valued by the juniors because it speaks volumes to the importance that our adult membership places on this event for leadership and breeder development. Recent graduates of the junior program should remember, “you are never done but your roles just change” and attendance at Classics provide an excellent example for transitioning into adult membership. The host committee(s) and AGJA Board welcomes adult participation and expertise in judging contests, evaluating scholarships, planning events, assisting in Fun Day or providing your culinary prowess in preparing meals. If you are interested in helping in any capacity do not hesitate to reach out to the coordinating entities. In addition to your attendance, sponsorship of AGJA events and activities are greatly appreciated. Our AGJA regional shows, junior classics, and biennial POWER Conference
always require financial support to optimize the experience.
Regardless of how you choose to contribute to the 2016 campaign, I encourage every member and any Gelbvieh enthusiast to make plans to “vote” in support the AGJA Dirt Road Classic. I realize that everyone leads busy lives; however, it is important to know how to prioritize the compass and the clock. The investment of support in our junior program now will pay dividends in the future direction of the breed. As we go about the business of better beef we must not lose sight of the opportunity to continue to cultivate our most important cash crop—the next generation of Gelbvieh producers.