MANHATTAN, Kan. (June 8, 2020) —The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) announced new directors and officers June 8 during the group’s annual meeting and symposium, hosted virtually this year.
Joe Mushrush, Strong City, Kansas, was introduced as the 2020-2021 BIF president during the Monday session. Matt Perrier, Eureka, Kansas, is the new vice president. New directors elected to serve on the BIF board were producers John Irvine, Manhattan, Kansas; Troy Marshall, Burlington, Colorado; and Joy Reznicek, West Point, Mississippi. New association representatives elected were Shane Bedwell, American Hereford Association; Kelli Retallick, American Angus Association; and Matt Woolfolk, American Shorthorn Association.
Bob Weaber, Kansas State University professor, was announced as the new BIF executive director. Weaber will be taking the reins from Jane Parish, Mississippi State University, who served as executive director from 2015-2020.
“Jane has been a great leader for the organization, and we are grateful for the years she dedicated to BIF,” says Tommy Clark, 2019-2020 BIF president. “Under her leadership, BIF has raised the bar in member services, as well as its communication and marketing efforts to members, the board and the organization’s partners.”
Also retiring from the staff after 18 years of service to BIF is Lois Schreiner. From 2002-2020, Schreiner served as executive assistant to several directors and has been integral in BIF’s success.
“Lois is phenomenal,” says Weaber. “She has been the heart and soul of BIF, and the behind-the-scenes contribution she has made to BIF for the past 18 years is immeasurable.”
More than 1,300 beef producers, academia and industry representatives registered to participate in the organization’s 52nd Annual Research Symposium — Online. BIF’s mission is to help improve the industry by promoting greater acceptance of beef cattle performance evaluation.
We have stayed in constant communication with the Taylor
County Expo Center and Abilene, TX over the past few weeks to learn how
COVID-19 would affect the National Junior Shorthorn Show and Youth Conference
We are excited to announce that they have given us the
green light for our event scheduled for June 22-27 as long as we adhere
to guidelines set forth by the Governor of Texas and Taylor County Expo Center
in Abilene, TX. We feel that these guidelines, are what we all have grown
accustomed to, and do not cause significant restrictions that would hinder the
enjoyment of the activities for this event.
The Taylor County Expo Center will be taking precautions to
be sure that surfaces and areas are sanitized, along with requesting that
those who attend continue to follow the safety precautions that we all have
been following to protect ourselves.
Taylor County Expo Center is excited for our show and the arrival of
Shorthorn juniors and their families.
The staff at the American Shorthorn Association, the
American Junior Shorthorn Association Board and the ASA Board, are all looking
forward to gathering with the Shorthorn family for one of the best weeks of the
The normal office function for the American Shorthorn
Association will resume on May 18th. Be sure to contact the office
if you need any help registering or transferring animals. Entries are due May
25th! You must have animals in the correct ownership by the entry
We are working hard to finish planning a great week of
activities! The junior board has spent many hours planning for this event. They
have updated contest rules and planned for other new activities. This year,
Flatland Cavalry, a Texas Country band, will be performing!
We can’t wait to see everyone in June for Shorthorns and
Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs
The National Sire Test (NST) program has been a valuable tool for testing the ability of Shorthorn genetics to perform in a real-world setting. The second year of the NST and our partnership with the University of Illinois provided us with more data on a genetically diverse bunch of Shorthorn sires. Once again, we were able to collect a full set of data on Shorthorn-influenced cattle from birth to rail. The NST provides breeders the opportunity to compare the genetics in their breeding program in an unbiased, real-world setting while gaining more progeny data on their sires to help build a more accurate EPD profile. From a big picture standpoint, the NST gives ASA more information on the breed to show to the industry that our cattle have the capability to be used as a profitable piece of their breeding program.
Timeline and Management
For the second round of the NST, the U of I cows were bred in mid-December 2017. Like the previous year, these females were SimAngus based mature cows that are housed at the U of I Dixon Springs research farm in the southern region of Illinois. With 10 Shorthorn sires bred to 20 cows each, we were able to utilize 200 cows for this second cycle. The calving season began on August 30, 2018 and went through October 2. From a 52% AI conception rate, 94 calves were born. As these calves were raised up to weaning, they were asked to grow solely on mother’s milk, and the cows had to raise these calves on minimal supplementation.
Weaning day came about 3 weeks later for the 2018 crop than their previous year counterparts, with March 7, 2019 being this year’s recorded weaning date. The calves ranged from 156 to 189 days of age at weaning, up 23 to 30 days over the 2017 crop. Once again, the calves were preconditioned at Dixon Springs before being sent off to college to complete the feedlot portion of the NST on the U of I Beef Farm just off campus. They enrolled in the feedyard on May 8, and graduated 216 days later on December 10. The feedlot at U of I is a fully under roof facility, with slatted floors for waste management and rubber matting covering the floor to provide extra comfort to the cattle. The NST calves are grouped by sex and entry weight into feeding pens of 12-15 head. Each pen is equipped with a GrowSafe feed bunk to collect daily individual intake data on the calves. All cattle were implanted at the beginning of the feeding period, as well as re-implanted near the midway point of the test. The feedyard ration was approximately 0.65 Mcal/lb from an energy standpoint, and the ration consisted of approximately 30% dry rolled corn, 20% wet distiller’s grains, 20% high moisture corn, 20% silage, and 10% corn-based supplement. The NST calves went to the Tyson plant at Joslin, IL for harvest on December 12. Initially, the cattle were expected to go to harvest a little earlier. However, the fat cattle market situation at the time led to holding onto these cattle a little longer, trying to catch a better market and more revenue per head.
On the next page, you will find a table comparing the data for the NST heifers and steers separately. With each bull not having equal numbers of male and female progeny, it’s not a fair comparison to lump all offspring together. Like always, I prefer to let you as breeders draw your own conclusions from the data rather than tell you what should be important. Nobody knows your operation better than you and what you want to emphasize in your breeding program. From studying the data in general terms, there are a few “big picture” points I would like to touch on.
For the second year in a row, calving ease was a major strength of the NST sires. The cattle posted a 99% unassisted calving record this year. While the U of I herd at Dixon Springs is pretty hands-off when it comes to assisting their mature cows, it’s nice that these cows could have Shorthorn calves on their own with industry acceptable birth weights.
The NST cattle met industry standards for carcass merit once again. The entire crop averaged a 13.6 sq. inch ribeye area, with an average marbling score of 519. For those of you who are less familiar with the marbling score system, a score of 400 is needed for a carcass to be considered to grade USDA Choice. Scores above 500 reach the upper 2/3 of the Choice grade, which is often talked about being the “new goal” in beef quality grading. In this year’s NST crop, 97% graded Choice or higher, with 47 head having marbling scores great enough to qualify as upper 2/3 Choice or better. In fact, 11 head graded USDA Prime. While there are some strong marbling genetics in the cow base, it is nice to see Shorthorn sires complement those black hided cows and still produce carcasses that garner a premium on the rail. From a Yield Grade (YG) perspective, only 12 head were YG4 or higher. Cattle that reach YG4 or 5 are the ones that take discounts on the carcasses, and the percentage of NST cattle to do that was small.
When studying the Dry Matter Intake (DMI) and feed to gain (F:G) data of the 2018 NST, the picture doesn’t look as pretty as the previous class. For both steers and heifers, DMI was increased and F:G was lower than 2017. However, if you look at the small differences in the test, I think it starts to make sense. The calves in this round of the trial were on feed for an additional 4 weeks compared to the first set of NST calves. The 2018 calves stayed on feed later in their life cycle, when cattle naturally start to become less efficient in their growth. While there probably are still some differences in feed conversion between bloodlines in the two years’ sire groups, I believe the timeline and the natural growth curve also played a role in the changes in these data points.
What Did We Learn?
Much like last year’s review of the first NST calf crop, I think I am asking a question with several answers, none of which can be considered “wrong”. From a breeder perspective, you might have seen something in the data to identify your next AI sire. From an industry view, we once again had cattle perform well enough to meet standards, showing that Shorthorn genetics can do things well to be commercially productive. From my chair at the association, I learned that we have breeders that are really interested in the information that the NST provides us. Inquiries and discussions with breeders who have participated in the program, as well as those who are interested in studying the data, give me optimism that we can work together to attempt to grow Shorthorn commercial acceptance. It takes buy-in from all sides to make that happen, and having breeder interest is crucial.
With two full sets of NST data in the books and one more calf crop going through the program, I feel like we are starting to get a clearer picture of where the breed stands in crucial areas needed to gain commercial acceptance. With a sire evaluation program like the NST, it’s important to gather information to compare and back up the genetics with relevant data. The University of Illinois has been a great partner in accomplishing that goal. The unbiased data collection and results give our breed some information to validate our cattle’s commercial acceptability. The calving ease, carcass, and feed efficiency components are helping us do that.
I want to thank the ASA Board of Directors, past and present, for seeing the need for this type of program and supporting it, as well as the breeders who have nominated their bulls to collect this information. We have one more year of data to collect with the U of I, and I’m looking forward to see how that information helps us keep building our Shorthorn resume’ for the American cattle industry.
Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs
The topic of proper data reporting is one that is very important, yet also can be overwhelming and a hassle to many breeders. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to do when turning in your weights and data to ASA. I’ve learned that no matter how many times this topic gets covered, it’s usually not enough times! It’s been a couple years since we discussed this topic in the Shorthorn Country, so it might be time for a good review.
The best memory device I’ve seen to help with contemporary grouping is the acronym S.A.M.E.
S.A.M.E.: Sex, Age, Management, Environment. Simply put, cattle that are treated the same should be contemporary grouped the same!
A contemporary group (CG) is the largest it can ever be when you put them together during calving season. That makes it extra important to get your contemporary groups correct at birth to build on as the calves go through life. All the calves born in the same season should be grouped together, provided they were run under the same management. If one set of cows is on full feed while the others just grazed, then the calves from those cows should be split accordingly. When inputting calf data, Digital Beef will separate male and females calves into their own groups for you. You can use the “Season” dropdown menu to differentiate groups from each other within your herd (like the fed cow pasture vs the grazing pasture). The “A, B, C and D” designations don’t necessarily correspond to actual seasons, but rather are just a method to input your different groups the way they need to be.
It’s inevitable that animals will be removed from a contemporary group over time. Whether it’s a calf that gets sick and requires extra attention, or a couple calves are brought to the barn as show prospects, group those cattle that get treated differently than the rest as their own contemporaries. If you bring in a bull calf and start feeding him a show ration to prep for state fair, you would expect him to outweigh your calves that are on pasture and light creep. It would not be a fair representation of the data to keep him in the same CG as all his buddies that didn’t come to the show barn. The show calves would need to be removed from the main CG and separated into their own smaller group. Contemporary groups are not a “mix and match” task, where you can pull animals out and put them back in once they’re back in the same pasture again. Once an animal leaves a CG, it can’t go back to the old one. The bull calf you took to state fair can be turned out in the development lot with the other yearlings after his show career, but he remains in his own CG for data recording purposes.
Even if all your calves don’t grow and perform like you hoped, it’s important to submit the data on all calves, heavy and light. There’s a reason it’s called WHOLE Herd Reporting. It’s fairly common for cattlemen to not report their worst calves, because they don’t want to bring down the group average and have other breeders see their “bad” calves. If all the calves are treated the same, then ALL the calves should be reported, good, bad or ugly. If you are a WHR breeder, the assessment fee on your cows covers the registration of her calf, so choosing not to submit the poor calves is not really a way to lower your registration bills. If you don’t want to give the weaker calves a registration number, you can simply uncheck the “Register?” box when submitting calf data into Digital Beef, and the system will record your calves with a “U” number and not fully register them.
A pitcher who can throw an 87 mph fastball doesn’t look very good in the population of professional baseball players, where 95 mph throwers are pretty common. If you compare him to the entire population of men in the country, that 87mph heater looks pretty good again! That’s what happens when you don’t record those less than desirable calves in your crop. It doesn’t help your best show just how good they really are!
The chart below gives a visual example of how much effect removing the bottom can have on performance ratios, and in turn, EPD calculations.
For a contemporary group to be an effective sire evaluation tool, there needs to be more than one sire represented in the group. While you can still make comparisons of the individuals and their dams, a CG with only one sire doesn’t tell you very much on the bull. All the good performing calves are his, but so are all the bad ones! The best way to have multiple sires in a group would be to incorporate AI into your breeding program, then turn those cows out with a walking herd sire afterwards.
The task of contemporary grouping can be confusing, cumbersome, and downright boring for some breeders! However, proper CGs are also crucial and necessary for getting the best data possible into the Shorthorn genetic evaluation. As Shorthorn breeders, we should all want the best genetic evaluations possible. If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to reach out and ask. The worst questions are the ones that are never asked.
Written by: Matt Woolfolk, Director of Performance Programs
The title of the article is always my opportunity to grab your attention, hoping you’ll read my monthly column. In this instance, I’m not worried about if you are listening to me, but rather the customers that show up to your farms and ranches to buy cattle. There’s one media publication that is trying to get the bull customer to talk about what they want, and their report gives us a chance to listen.
For the past six years, BEEF Magazine has put together a project titled The Seedstock 100. The project was printed in the January 2020 issue of BEEF Magazine. The Seedstock 100 sets out to identify those producers across the United States who merchandise the most bulls into the marketplace. This list of elite bull marketers ranges from selling 230 bulls in 2019 to almost 4,000 young sires, and can be found in 23 states coast to coast. Within the breeding programs of the Seedstock 100, there are 33 different breeds, composites, or hybrid breeds of cattle listed. Unfortunately, neither Shorthorn nor ShorthornPlus are included in those 33 bull breed types.
As part of their publishing of the Seedstock 100 list, BEEF also included some findings from a producer survey in regards to genetic makeup, purchasing demands, and management practices in their operations. The summary article compiled by BEEF writer Wes Ishmael was pretty enlightening. I encourage you to go read the whole report, if you can. While treating the responses to any survey as pure gospel is always a cautionary tale, it is still interesting to look at the responses from commercial producers in hopes of identifying a potential trend.
According to respondents to this survey, 72% of their cow herds were classified as mostly straightbred British or British crossbred females. From that subset of cattlemen, 97% of those straight and British crossbred cattle were classified as Angus (73%), Red Angus (15%) or Hereford (9%). When it comes to bull purchasing, the responses to this survey indicate that those same three breeds make up 84% of the bulls most recently purchased. Those same three breeds also dominate the responses for the breed of choice for bull purchases in the next three years. When asked if they planned to change the breed composition of their cow herd over the next five years, only 22% indicated that they were planning to do so. Eighty-five percent of responses indicated raising their own replacement females, while 68% market their feeder cattle at auction. In terms of retained ownership, 18% indicated that they keep ownership of their calves.
When it comes to data and information to make a bull buying decision, birth and calving ease information are most valued in this survey. Seventy eight percent want to know the actual birth weight of the calf, while more respondents want the EPD for Calving Ease Direct (77%) than they do Birth Weight (71%). Buyers prefer an actual weaning weight (63%) over a 205-day adjusted weight (55%), and 62% of buyers want access to a WW EPD. Albeit by a small margin, more responses indicated wanting a disposition score over a yearling weight (54% vs 51%). When it comes to the use of selection indexes, 56% of the respondents “routinely” use these tools to identify potential bulls to buy. In terms of priority of index type, maternal (44%) was the most popular, followed by end product/carcass (39%) and multipurpose (31%). Eighty-two percent of responses say that the information provided to them by the seedstock producer is understandable, while only 14% say that the information is too complicated. Only one in four responses indicated they needed a genomic profile on a bull, while 46% of responses use genomic data in their bull selection. That tells me that while they may not require the information, if genomic information is available, they are fairly likely to use it. As Wes Ishmael said himself in the article, “The idea that about half of bull buyers use genomic data in selection would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”
While this is a lot of information to digest, I think it lends some wisdom on what the customer is thinking. Truthfully, I don’t agree with everything that we see in the results of this survey, but that’s just the number crunching side of me showing. However, if gaining commercial acceptance as a breed is an avenue we would like to pursue, I feel that knowing the mindset of the customer can help you get there. That is the reasoning behind ASA collecting data at NCBA Convention and in our own commercial survey. The dominance of British genetics is not a surprise, and certainly offers us a challenge as a British breed fighting in the 3% that the Big Three don’t occupy. However, with the survey indicating that one out of five cattlemen are looking to make changes to their herd’s genetic makeup, opportunity is available for a breed that offers unique, useful traits. With the increasing value being placed on docility (and Shorthorn’s natural propensity to for good docility), there might be an opening for the right kind of Shorthorn cattle to make a market impact. While nobody but your customer can tell you what the right kind of Shorthorn is, the responses to this survey show what type of information a bull buyer asks for and the type of cow herd most bulls are getting used in. Fortunately for you, being a part of the American Shorthorn Association offers you the opportunity to give them all the things they asked for through this BEEF Magazine survey.
Funding the Future is the annual AJSA online fundraiser held in February. The AJSA junior board gathers semen, embryos, photography packages and more to auction online. The proceeds benefit the AJSA and National Junior Shorthorn Show & Youth Conference.
During the American Shorthorn
Association Annual Meeting the board elected new officers to serve for the
Grathwohl-Heter of Kansas, made Shorthorn history when the board elected her to
serve as the first female president of the ASA.
has spent her life raising and showing Shorthorn cattle which has grown her
passion for the breed. She served on the American Junior Shorthorn Association
board of directors from 1994-1997, serving as president her last year. Nancy
and her husband Ryan, run DTR Cattle Company in Raymond, Kansas. Their two
kids, Josie and Ryder, exhibit Shorthorns at local, state and national shows.
Her love for the breed is evident in her dedication to serving on the board and
am very honored to serve as the President of the ASA board,” Nancy said. “Growing
up in the Shorthorn breed, I have looked up to members of our association and
feel the opportunities available to junior members have helped develop me into
the person I am today. I am looking forward to this next year as I get to work
with my fellow board members for the betterment of the breed.”
With almost 150 years of
history, the ASA continues to develop a passion in its members to serve and
grow the Shorthorn breed.
During the American Shorthorn
Association Annual Meeting on November 23, delegates from all over the country
gathered to elect new ASA board members.
nominating committee submitted three candidates for the available positions.
Jerrell Crow from Oklahoma, Lee Miller from Ohio, and John Russell from Texas
were elected to each serve a three-year term.
The board elected new officers for the nine-member
board. The new president of the board is Nancy Grathwohl-Heter of Kansas, the
first female president of the American Shorthorn Association. The
vice-president is Hugh Mooney of California and the executive director is Dave
Greenhorn of Ohio. They serve alongside Joe Bales of Tennessee, Toby Jordan of
Indiana, John Sonderman of Nebraska, Jerrell Crow of Oklahoma, Lee Miller of Ohio, and John
Russell of Texas.
On November 22 and 23 more
than 100 attendees gathered for the 2019 ASA Annual Meeting – Forum &
Awards Banquet at the Hilton Kansas City Airport in Kansas City, Missouri.
On Friday, November 22, attendees
chose a workshop taught by ASA staff. Matt Woolfolk shared how selection
indexes are created for genetic evaluations. Heather Lange and Emily Velisek
explained the ASA registry and answered related questions. Shelby Diehm
described the opportunities ASA provides to members to market Shorthorn cattle
and Amy Sampson of Shorthorn Country spoke about magazine advertising.
After breakout sessions,
members were encouraged to attend committee meetings. The ASA Genetic
Evaluation Committee, ASA Commercial Acceptance Committee, ASA ShorthornPlus/Composite
Committee, and ASA Promotion Committee had members eager to contribute ideas to
submit to the ASA board and staff. The 150th Anniversary Committee is
actively planning for the 150th celebration to begin at the annual
meeting in 2021.
Later that afternoon, the “Building
a Positive Breed Image” portion of the Annual Meeting began with a panel
consisting of Virgin Huseman of Kansas, Marty Lueck of Missouri and Randy
McCabe of Kansas. They discussed how to build a commercial image. The panel was
followed by Patrick Wall of Iowa State Extension, reviewing the ISU Shorthorn
feed efficiency heifer project. The evening concluded with Eric Grant of Grant
Company showing attendees some of the new ASA marketing campaign his team has
been working on since July.
On Saturday, the morning
began with Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs, giving a breed
performance update. He was followed by Dwight Williams, of ABS Global, speaking
about A.I. Sire Procurement. Next was Donnell Brown of R.A. Brown Ranch sharing
Building Blocks to a Strong Breed. He was followed by a panel of Derek Jungels
of North Dakota, Paul Hill of Ohio and Jim Husz of Missouri, discussing Breeders’
Impact on a Breed.
That afternoon following
speakers, the annual meeting was in session. The ASA auditor began with a
financial report and told members that ASA is in great financial condition.
Montie Soules, Executive Secretary/CEO of ASA, gave the state of association
report. The highlights of his report being a 65% increase in new junior and
senior membership in the last year. The top five states for registrations are
Ohio with 1,219 registrations, Indiana with 1,196 registrations, Iowa with
1,124 registrations, Kansas with 1,010 registrations, and Illinois with 940
registrations. Another major highlight is that ShorthornPlus registrations are
28% of total registrations. The nominating committee submitted three candidates
for the available positions on the ASA board. Jerrell Crow of Oklahoma, Lee
Miller of Ohio and John Russell of Texas were elected to serve a three-year
term. The board met to elect new officers for the nine-member board. The new
president of the board is Nancy Grathwohl-Heter of Kansas, the first woman
president. The vice-president is Hugh Mooney and the executive director is Dave
Greenhorn of Ohio. They serve alongside Joe Bales of Tennessee, Toby Jordan of
Indiana, John Sonderman of Nebraska, Jerrell Crow of Oklahoma, Lee Miller of
Ohio and John Russell of Texas.
On Saturday evening there were
more than 130 people in attendance for the awards banquet. Members were
recognized for Century Club, Pacer Performance Awards and Show Awards. Bruce E.
Brooks of Oklahoma was awarded the Merit Award. Keith H. Lauer of Kansas was
presented the Heritage Award. Mark W. P. Gordon and Phillip & Linda Bowman
were recognized as Builders of the Breed.
The Annual Meeting will be
held in Louisville, Kentucky, during the North American International Livestock
Exposition, in 2020. We hope to see you there!