Crossbreeding, alliances stressed at Colorado Beef Profit Alliance
Industry experts focused on economics at the Colorado Beef Profit Alliance seminar on Sept. 15.
Tom Brinks, of JBS Five Rivers, led off the program at CSU Agricultural Research, Development & Education Center by reminding ranchers that all segments of the industry need to communicate. "You're in the beef business. Your income is derived from consumer's spending on beef, and feedyards buy your customer's cattle," he reminded the purebred cattlemen at the session sponsored by Colorado State University, Colorado Simmental Association, Genex Cooperative, Northern Feed & Bean, and Red Angus Association of Colorado.
Brinks highlighted the need for high-immunity calves that come from a sound health program. In addition to health, Brinks shared JBS research that illustrated how the right crossbreeding mix makes the most economic sense for feedlots.
"Good genetics help cattle grow and grade," he said. As he walked through the data, Brinks encouraged a strong British x Continental crossbreeding plan that creates the best economic outcome. "Your genetics leave an imprint on this industry," Brinks told the 40 ranchers. He asked that their fingerprint be one of value and opportunity.
Dr. Kraig Peel, of CSU, spoke on how genetics can change input costs. While the seedstock segment often uses systematic or strategic planning, he encouraged purebred cattlemen to help their commercial cattle customers with genetic management. Peel started with basics, such as cow size and calving in sync with range conditions, then followed up with research that showed good crossbreeding will create higher hybrid vigor.
Myron Edelman of Red Angus and Will Townsend of American Simmental, explained a marketing program that helps earmark the genetics, as well as age and source verification, as it flows down the industry chain. Likewise ASA's Dr. Lauren Hyde and Red Angus' Larry Keenan discussed the new multi-breed common base Expected Progeny Differences and DNA-enhanced EPDs. In addition to updating the seedstock cattlemen on the latest technological advances, the pair explained how the common base will allow commercial producers to more easily appraise the genetic advantages of animals.
Patsy Houghton of Heartland Cattle of McCook, Neb., focused on the importance of reproduction. Based on 22 years of data from her heifer development business, she summarized the five key traits as fertility, longevity, immune response, fleshing ability and disposition. Crossbred heifers have proven to settle quicker, proving the value of heterosis on fertility. She recognized that heifer development and growing 2-year-old bred heifers are challenges, but proper management and genetics will create a productive cow that stays in the herd.
Houghton said that today's crossbreeding options using composite bulls and crossbred cows is as easy as a cake mix, "just add water and stir." But it takes planned mating, good records and marketing goals. She encouraged the seedstock segment to help its customers to develop a cowherd base that fits the industry.
Dave Weaber, an economist and Delhaize Group protein buyer, wrapped up the alliance session with what supermarkets see in consumer choices. His graphs explained the meat consumption trends seen by their international supermarket chain, and he fielded questions on the retail meat case.
During the day-long field day, participants also toured the ARDEC facilities, and enjoyed a brisket dinner served by CSU's meats team.
Speaker power point summaries will be posted on www.coloradosimmental.com.