Missouri Recipe serves up quality beef
By Doug Rich
Competition for the center of the plate is intense but there are technologies available to help cattlemen meet the demand for high-quality beef. The "Missouri Recipe" puts those technologies into a proven package.
"We are at a unique point in this industry," said David Patterson, University of Missouri Department of Animal Sciences. "We cannot compete on a commodity basis anymore. We need to identify our strengths and exploit them."
Patterson was the keynote speaker at the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle conference held Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 in Joplin, Mo. The Beef Reproduction Task Force and the Beef Reproduction Leadership Team at the University of Missouri sponsored the two-day conference.
"Improving traits of major economic importance in beef cattle can be accomplished most rapidly through the selection of genetically superior sires and widespread use of artificial insemination," Patterson said.
Off-the-shelf technologies and protocols for timed synchronization of heifers and cows are available but cattlemen have been slow to adopt these technologies. Patterson said producers give several reasons for not using AI to breed heifers and cows. These include lack of time and labor; procedures are too complicated, costly, and inconvenient or they have inadequate means for detecting estrus.
Patterson said other countries are adapting these technologies faster than the U.S. Brazil, for example, artificially inseminates almost five times more cows on an annual basis than producers in the U.S.
"Unless owners of commercial cowherds aggressively implement reproductive and genetic improvement, the U.S. will lose its competitive advantage in production of high-quality beef," Patterson said.
Mike Smith, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri, said using synchronization protocols for natural service is a good first step for producers just getting started. There are several advantages for females that conceive early that are very valuable to the producer. Smith said females that conceive early produce steer calves that have better hot carcass weights, better marbling scores, higher carcass value, and a higher percentage that are average choice or better.
"There are significant benefits to genetic improvement and reproductive management that can be gained from the implementation of an estrus synchronization and AI program in heifers and postpartum beef cows," Smith said.
Smith said improvements in fixed-time AI, access to sires with highly accurate EPDs, and a marketing system that can reward producers for quality cattle make AI a better option than ever before.
Mike Kasten, a beef producer from Millersville, Mo., has been using AI for 37 years and using some form of synchronization for 12 years. In recent years he has used fixed-time AI on heifers and cows.
Kasten uses the 14-day CIDR-PG Show-Me Synch protocol with the heifers. A seven-day CO-Synch plus CIDR protocol is used with cows.
"I have used observation two and three times a day, MGA, prostaglandin, pregnant mares serum, Syncro-Mate B, limited suckling and early weaning," Kasten said. "All of these systems worked to some degree but none have worked remotely as well as the fixed-time AI breeding protocols we are using today."
Using AI has given Kasten access to a lot of highly proven genetics. Kasten said producers would not have access to high-accuracy genetics without AI unless they have a lot of money to spend on a bull.
Kasten has been using AI for 37 years and keeping total performance records from birth weight to carcass traits over that time period. He has been able to document the effect of proven genetics stacked on proven genetics in his herd.
"The reality of the data is that stacked generations of highly proven genetics brought back $177.48 per head more and adjustments won't change that fact," Kasten said. "Another hard fact is that you cannot get these genetics in your herd without using AI."
Beef producers cannot control the weather, prices, or politics but they can control genetics. The tools are available to make significant genetic improvements in the genetics of your herd and to produce high-quality, consistent beef products that consumers demand.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.