At the Starting Gate

Written by: Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

When I am struggling to come up with a topic for this column like I was this month, I usually look at the previous month’s article (to make sure I don’t copy it again) and the article from the same month in the previous year; hoping for a topic that was relevant the previous year. My September 2018 article opened with, “To be honest with you, I had a hard time coming up with something to write about for this issue.” I was successful in discovering a pattern: that the September issue is a common time for writer’s block! The best way for me to get rolling in these cases is to start writing what’s on my mind and hope I can tie it back to cattle eventually. That method worked out well for this month.

I spent an August weekend in Des Moines with friends at the Prairie Meadows racetrack. It was a fun way to wrap up the summer before heading into the chaos that is fall sale and show season. With everyone on the trip working in purebred cattle marketing, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we won’t be able to get together again until Denver. If you invite someone in our line of work to a social event on a fall weekend, don’t expect them to show up unless it’s your sale day!

Horse racing is affectionately known as “The Sport of Kings”, but I’m not sure that moniker really fits. Some of you tune in for the Kentucky Derby or other big races and see the high-class party atmosphere, but you may not realize that everyday horse racing is a blue-collar profession. The barns at Prairie Meadows are full of horsemen trying to make their living winning races. While we all tried to find the next longshot winner, the conversation at the table turned to cattle.

One of the guys at the table made the observation, ‘You know, this sport deals with a lot of the same things that we do in the cattle business.” What followed was a lengthy discussion about some of the similarities in horse racing and the beef cattle business. I’ve outlined some of the biggest commonalities in the rest of this article.

Breeding and Genetics: Breeding racehorses is a combination of art, livestock breeding and luck. What makes the Thoroughbred breeding industry much more challenging, is that all matings must be natural service in order to be eligible for registration. Imagine if we had that restriction in the registered beef business! Most of the Thoroughbred breeding in the US is based around Lexington, Kentucky. However, many state Thoroughbred organizations offer special races and incentive programs for horses bred and raced in their state. We watched several races which were open only to Iowa-bred horses while at Prairie Meadows, and they even host a special day of racing to celebrate the Iowa-breds at the end of the season. Similar to our livelihood, it’s important to find a niche for your breeding program where you can fit and be successful.

Conformation: I’m not an expert in racehorse phenotype, but one of my friends has some knowledge of what one should look like. He certainly had a “look” or type that he was studying
for when the horses paraded out onto the track before each race. It didn’t necessarily help him cash any winning tickets. I think as cattlemen we have a better grasp on what type of animal will be a winner in our herds than the horseplayer at the track.

Statistics and Data: Open up a race program and you will find more data than you know what to do with on each race. There are statistics on jockey and trainer performance, as well as recaps of recent past races for every horse in the race. To a novice, it can be a numerical overload, but it can also helpful to find the winning horse and place the right wager. Much akin to our own performance data, EPDs and selection indexes, the information in a racing program can be beneficial if you know how to use it!

Betting Style: Everyone at the track has their own methodology to picking a winner. Some watch the horses in the paddock, while others study the stats in the program. Some play by gut feeling or color of the horse. Regardless, the destination is the same for everyone: to win some money! Study all the different cattle operations out there and you’ll see a similar trend. No two cattlemen go about things exactly the same, even with the same end goal in mind.

Compassion: The crowds are not very big at Prairie Meadows, except for the 10 minutes before and during a race. The spectator numbers grow then because all the people who work in the stables make their way over to watch their horses run their race. Grooms, trainers, and other staff all gather near the finish line to cheer on their horses. You can tell that they care deeply for the animals they are responsible for. As soon as every race ended, they bounced into action to cool their horse down and get them back to the barn for post-race care. What may just be “the #5 horse” to the racegoer is a special athlete with a name and a unique personality to the people who care for them, just like we view some of our cow herds.

Horse racing has always been one of my favorite sports. After the trip to Prairie Meadows and the discussion of how similar it is to our beloved industry, I think I’ve developed an even deeper appreciation for their business. Midwestern horsemen and cattlemen are a lot more alike than we might think, with both groups made up of dedicated, hard-working people trying to make a living in the industry they love. You also have to be a pretty good gambler to make it in either business.

Milk for growing calves: Too much of a good thing?

Ask a rancher what his or her “dream cow” looks like, and you’ll get a lot of various answers. The cow’s breed, mature weight and genotype may differ depending on the producer’s goals, environment, production practices and marketing strategies.

However, no matter where you live or what your operational goals are, there are a few factors to selecting the ideal cow that I think everyone can agree on — quiet disposition, great milking ability, structural soundness, easy calving and fertility.

Read more of this article from BEEF Magazine

13 tips to increase cash flow during agricultural downturn – BEEF Magazine

Farmers and ranchers are no strangers to challenging times. From volatile markets to brutal weather extremes to the rising costs of operating an agricultural enterprise, it takes a lot of grit, dedication, determination and sacrifice to maintain a sustainable and successful business.

In particular right now, though, the slow and steady grind of the most recent economic downturn in the agricultural economy is taking its toll on producers.

Read More on this article from BEEF Magazine



Essentials for a Successful Week

Only 6 more days until we are all “Under the Big Top” in Madison, Wisconsin! Here in the office we are packing things up and figured we would remind you all about the essentials you need to survive the week.

As you pack your trailer to head to Junior Nationals here is a tune (and show packing list) for you to listen to:



HYDRATE. HYDRATE. HYDRATE. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Days in the barn can get long and will be even longer if you’re not properly hydrated.



Busy days at Junior Nationals can cause kids to get “Hangry.” Be sure to pack all your favorite snacks. Here is a list of our favorite snacks at cattle shows:

Emily M.: Grapes, Chex Mix, Pringles

Anna: Pita Chips, Hummus, Salami

Emily D.: Cheese sticks, Cheez-Its, Cinnamon Rolls



Standing on cement all day can be hard on the feet. Be sure to pack a variety of shoes to switch out from day to day. You will appreciate this decision later in the week.



Your cattle’s hair typically always comes first, so remember Revive and brushes to make sure their hair is on point for the show ring. Next, your hair. Rain is in the forecast!! Hats are a lifesaver on rainy days, or even days you just want to sleep in an extra 10 minutes.



Don’t get to check-in and end up getting the “YOU HAD ONE JOB” look. Make sure those registration papers and health papers are in a safe spot to bring to check-in.



Don’t forget to pack those projects you have spent countless hours on! Make sure to bring extra supplies, just in case something gets messed up on the drive!



The most important thing to pack along: a positive attitude. Cattle shows call for early mornings and late evenings, but a positive attitude always makes it more enjoyable. This week is about making memories that you’ll cherish for a life time, while making new friends along the way.


Hope we could help with your preparation for Junior Nationals! Safe travels as you make your way to Madison!

Genomic Enhanced EPDS: Coming this March

The first genetic evaluation to include genomically-enhanced EPDs is slated for this month.

  1. Traits evaluated include Birth Weight, Weaning Weight, Yearling Weight and Carcass Weight
    1. For the March evaluation, EPDs will be calculated using the usual software, then genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation after it is run.
    2. Known as “two-step” or “blended” genomically-enhanced EPDs.
      1. Breeds that currently have genomically enhanced EPDs are using this method.
      2. The blended method impacts the animals who have been DNA tested.
      3. The EPDs for these traits WILL be comparable to other IGS breeds, as they were calculated through the same system, then the Shorthorn genomic information was added.
    3. In the future, we will be moving to newer technology (single step method)
      1. BOLT software
      2. Will combine pedigree, phenotypic data, and genomic information into the genetic evaluation simultaneously
      3. Single step genomically enhanced EPDs not only impact the animal that has been DNA tested, but also related animals.
  2. The goal at IGS is to introduce single-step genomically enhanced EPDs for growth traits first, followed by carcass traits and maternal traits.
  3. The new Stayability EPD will be calculated using single-step methods.

Insider 8.9.16 Information

EPDs are Updated in the Registry

The North American Shorthorn Genetic Evaluation for Fall 2016 is now updated in the registry.

Delegate Election Process

Each state will become a separate district to be recognized as a state delegation and Canada will be considered the equivalence of a state. The number of delegates from that state will be determined by the number of members in good standing at the time the ballots for delegate election are mailed.
Delegate ballots will be mailed from the ASA office in August of each year to members in good standing as of August 1 of that year. In order for members to make informed selections, a list of members in good standing from that state or district will accompany ballots. Only one ballot or delegate will be allowed per membership vote per entity or membership. The ballots mailed for each state or district will include the number of delegates allocated to their state or district. All ballots must be returned to the ASA office by the Tuesday after Labor Day in September of that year. They are due September 6, 2016. 
All delegates will be contacted to confirm their willingness and ability to serve as soon as possible after the ballots have been returned to the ASA office and counted.  Delegates will be notified at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting. Delegates will serve as their state or district representative from October 1 to September 31 of each year.
Annual Meeting will be December 3, 2016 at the Argosy Hotel and Casino. Check future Insider and Shorthorn Country for registration information. 
For more detailed information about the election process visit the website.

NAILE Information

–   Ownership deadline NAILE Junior Show is Sept. 15
   Entry deadline NAILE National & Junior Show Oct. 1

Schedule Change at NAILE

Saturday November 12th
  Junior ShorthornPlus Show
Sunday November 13th
  Junior Purebred Show
Monday November 14th
  Jack C Ragsdale National Shorthorn Show
  Jack C Ragsdale National ShorthornPlus Show

Hotel Information

NAILE | Lousiville, Kentucky- 
Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Airport, 2735 Crittenden Drive, Louisville, KY 40209. Rooms from 11/9/16-11/14/16, double and king rooms are available for $169 per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 502-318-2346 and asking for the American Shorthorn Association Block or by calling Rachel at the office at 816-599-7777.

National Junior Shorthorn Show 2017 Dates

The correct NJSS dates are July 3-8, 2017. Cattle can move into barn on the 3rd. Cattle and contest check-in will be on July 4th. Mark your calendars for attending NJSS in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

Hotel Information

For National Junior Shorthorn Show | Tulsa, Oklahoma – 
Embassy Suites Hotel, 3332 South 79th East Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74145 (Approximately 4 miles from fairgrounds). Rooms are available from 7/2/17-7/8/17, double suites are $109 per night and king suites are $104 per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 918-622-4000 and asking for the American Shorthorn Association Block or by calling Rachel at the office at 816-599-7777.
Expo Inn Hotel, 4531 E. 21st St., Tulsa, OK 74145 (Located on Fair Grounds). Rooms are available from 7/3/17-7/8/17, double kings and double queens are available for $99 per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 918-858-3775 and asking for the American Shorthorn Association Block or by calling Rachel at the office at 816-599-7777.
Country Inns & Suites, 3209 South 79th  East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74145. Rooms are available from 7/2/17-7/9/17, double and king rooms are available for $69 per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 918-663-1000 and asking for the American Shorthorn Association Block or by calling Rachel at the office at 816-599-7777.

Hotel Information for National Western

National Western | Denver Colorado –
Double Tree by Hilton Denver, 3203 Quebec Street, Denver, CO 80207. King and Double rooms will be available 01/08/17 – 01/17/17 for $116 per night. For Reservations you may call the hotel at 303-321-3333 and ask for the American Shorthorn Association Block or contact Rachel at the office at 816-599-7777.

All Century Club members registrations need to be done by August 31.

Intern Update: Junior National

Hey guys!

It is Abbey & Taylor again. It has been a little while since we have updated y’all with the latest happenings. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but we managed to survive! Hopefully each of you enjoyed Jr. Nationals as much as we did, and have caught up on all your missed sleep; pretty sure we are still working on that part! We just wanted to take a minute and share with you guys some of our favorite parts of the week and thank everyone for making the 2016 National Junior Shorthorn Shows & Youth Conference a huge success.


It is hard to believe my time in the office is starting to come to an end. It seems like just last week I was starting my first day at ASA, nervous, and excited for the summer to get started. Now, here I am a few weeks away from being done, Jr. Nationals behind me, and only KEY Conference standing before me.

Jr. Nationals was a whirlwind and one that I will always remember. A lot of inside jokes, funny stories, passionate exhibitors, and great cattle come to mind when I think back on the week. It was awesome to see the hard work and preparation leading up to the event all come together. I have a lot of favorite moments, but I think the icing on the cake would be all the friendships I made. I actually had the chance to put a face to the hundreds of names I have read over & over. I got to work with some pretty awesome Jr. Board members, go on a round up with the sidekicks, and even drink some tea with the lassie princesses. On top of it all, I got to be a part of Gwen’s last Jr. National and if you know her, you know just how special those juniors are to her. To see her pour her whole heart into these kids is something I will always admire her for.

I may be a little tired still, my feet are still sore from wearing boots for hours, and I may still have to unpack, but my first Jr. Nationals was certainly one for the books!!


I have to reiterate a bit on Taylor’s thoughts. How is it even possible that we only have three short weeks left as the ASA interns? It was so wonderful to experience my first Jr. Nationals. I know my experience working it is nothing compared to those of you that exhibited. However, y’all are absolutely awesome. Seeing so much passion for the breed from the junior members, and the enthusiasm everyone has for what they are doing was simply the best.

While it is hard to pick a favorite moment, the team fitting contest is definitely up there in my book. The way everyone (and it really was everyone) helped to move the intermediate contest into the cattle barn to keep everyone safe was IMG_1447phenomenal teamwork. Again, like Taylor said, finally putting faces to names was a great thing. For me it was being able to meet all the outgoing members that took their time to help me out and showcase them in the exhibitor folder.  I’m sitting here trying to think of something to add about Gwen, but I think we will have to write another entry in a few weeks dedicated to her. She deserves one all about her because her dedication to her job was all about you members.

I don’t think Taylor and I were really prepared for what the week would bring, we had an idea but it ended up being so much more! A big thanks to all the exhibitors, parents, volunteers and staff that helped keep the week an amazing experience




Join An ASA Committee Today!

The American Shorthorn Association would like to extend an offer to its members to join any of the following committees:
  • ASA Commercial Acceptance Committee
  • ASA Genetic Evaluation Committee
  • ASA ShorthornPlus/Composite Committee
  • ASA Promotion Committee
These committees will meet via a one-hour conference call approximately four to five times a year.
If you wish to join, you may contact the ASA office at 816-599-7777 or send your name, contact information, and which committee you would like to join to

Non-Certificate Bulls List Updated

The list of Non-Certificate Bulls has been updated as of June 22, 2016. It is available in the Quick Links section on or by clicking here and is updated regularly.

Members have the option to designate AI sires as non-certificate AI bulls. Doing so, means that an AI certificate will not be required to register the resulting AI calf. Instructions on how to designate a bull as non-certificate can be found here.