Searching for Answers

written by Matt Woolfolk, ASA director of performance programs

With most of the Shorthorn bull sales completed by the time you read this (hopefully you got the bull you wanted), it’s time to shift focus to breeding season. There’s plenty of decision making to be made in your breeding program, from breeding pasture size and availability, cow to bull ratio (don’t overload the young guys), and whether to use AI or natural breeding. This month, we will focus on the breeding and mating decision aspect of the season and how you can use Digital Beef to plan matings and identify genetics to add to your herd. As always, it is important to have goals for your breeding program headed into planning your matings for the coming year. Take the time to study your own herd (genetically and phenotypically) and determine where improvements can be made in the next generation. It’s hard to get where you want to go if you don’t know where that is!

There are many ways to utilize the online breed registry to help you during breeding season planning, both from the female and male sides of the equation. Starting with the females, the “Reports” section of Digital Beef is a good resource. Utilizing the “Production Summary” report pulls together the production records on all your active females. It’s essentially the report card of your cow herd. The system will pull together all your cows, and all recorded data on their progeny, giving you the ability to see which cows are making the grades and which ones may need some time in detention! To get a better look at EPDs in the cow herd, I love using the “Custom Report Builder” feature. The Custom Report allows you to focus on the information that is of most interest to your breeding program. Reports can be pulled based on age and sex, and you can select which data points, production info, and EPDs you want presented to you on the final spreadsheet that is output at the end. This is my go-to method to efficiently study data on groups of females.

After studying those females, you might decide that AI is the most effective way to infuse the genetics that will take you towards your destination the quickest. The EPD Search function is a good option for identifying those potential AI sire candidates. Via “Search Tools” at the top of your Digital Beef page, you’re taken to the EPD search where you can enter your parameters a potential sire needs to meet. In addition to EPD thresholds (minimum and/or maximums), you can sort purebreds only, by color, and if a bull has sired registered progeny to date. Once you input search parameters, the search will give back to you a list of bulls that meet your criteria, their entire EPD profile, and a link to their individual animal page in the registry to allow for further study. You will want to enter a couple different EPD criteria into the search (to narrow the list some), but also don’t want to have criteria for every EPD (yield no matches). The message on the screen “fetching results…please be patient” needs to be adhered to, as it takes a few minutes to search the whole database. Clicking the button to start the search again just takes you back to square one and will make the process even longer.

Once you’ve identified some prospect sires, you can see how they complement your cow herd on paper using the Progeny Calculator tool in Digital Beef. You can find this feature under the Tools menu. The Progeny Calculator tool gives you a quick glimpse into projected EPD profiles of a sire (herd bull or AI) for calves out of your females. For a more in-depth discussion of this tool, you can reference back to my article in the November 2021 issue of the Country.

Best of luck with your upcoming breeding season. Hopefully, the information that Digital Beef puts at your fingertips gives you the opportunity to move your breeding program in the direction you want to take it in your pursuit of breeding better Shorthorns. If you have any questions about any of the features mentioned in this article, feel free to shoot me an email (matt@ shorthorn.org).

American Shorthorn Association Releases 150th Anniversary Commemorative Painting

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (February 8, 2022) – “America’s First-Shorthorns Across America”, a limited-edition painting by renowned livestock illustrator and artist C. J. Brown has been released for public purchase. The painting was commissioned by the American Shorthorn Association to celebrate the 150th year of the American Shorthorn Association and will be treasured by many Shorthorn enthusiasts for years to come.

To commemorate each year of Shorthorns in the past, 150 limited-edition prints have been commissioned and released. The original painting will hang indefinitely in the American Shorthorn Association headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri.

During the 2022 National Shorthorn Sale, The Summit at Cattlemen’s Congress in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the first six artist proofs were sold as a donation for $20,000. These profits, and all print sale profits will benefit the Shorthorn Youth Development Fund Foundation (SYDF). The purpose of the SYDF is to provide financial support to sustain and expand the National Junior Shorthorn Show & Youth Conference held annually.

Also sold during The Summit Sale as a unique registration number to the American Shorthorn Association of Registration Number: ‘1872’, representing the beginning of the American Shorthorn Association. With profits benefiting the SYDF, this special registration number sold for $5,500 to Paint Valley Farms of Millersburg, Ohio.

“It was exciting to see the breed rally around the 150th Celebration while supporting the youth of the breed.” comments Montie D. Soules, Executive Secretary/CEO of the American Shorthorn Association.

C.J. Brown remarks that she “was honored to be commissioned to create this piece by the American Shorthorn Association in celebration of their 150th anniversary. This is a great keepsake to remember the 150th anniversary of the Shorthorn legacy for all involved in the breed.”

To purchase your print before they are sold out, contact the American Shorthorn Association.

2022 ASA/AJSA Interns

Lily Gisclair is originally from Longville, Louisiana, where she lived on a cattle farm. She is currently a senior at Oklahoma State University where she is pursuing a dual degree in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communications. With this, she hopes to obtain a job as an agriculture teacher or a position in agriculture communications. Either way she plans to continue being involved in the agriculture industry that she loves. Lily grew up showing and raising Registered Black Angus Cattle, steers, and market lambs. Growing up in the cattle industry, specifically the National Junior Angus Association, she understands the valuable important work associations put forth to not only have a successful show season but develop leadership skills for junior members. She is thrilled at the opportunity to work for the American Shorthorn Association this summer as the Registrations Intern.

Regan Culp is from Francesville, Indiana, where she grew up on a beef feedlot and grain farm while exhibiting cattle and pigs nationally with her family. Regan graduated from Purdue University with her Bachelor’s in Animal Science Agribusiness and is now a graduate student at Kansas State University obtaining her Master’s in Agricultural Education and Communications. Her research for her Master’s is focused on making livestock expositions more accessible for youth with disabilities to exhibit their livestock and obtain life skills. During her undergrad, Regan served on the Indiana Junior Beef Cattle Association for five terms where she was able to interact with junior members across the state by helping host 27 jackpot shows and attend events such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention. She looks forward to utilizing her past experiences of being the Indiana State Fair Livestock Intern and the Showtimes Blackout 7 Intern to her advantage to effectively serve as the Youth Activities Intern and work closely with the American Shorthorn Association to host a great Shorthorn Junior Nationals and Youth Conference!

Sara Frost will be the 2022 American Shorthorn Association Communications Intern. She is currently a student at OSU majoring in agricultural communications. Sara really enjoys photography, graphic design, and art as she works on her major. She is originally from California and grew up on her family’s beef cattle ranch, showing and working cattle is a large part of her life. She is incredibly happy to be able to continue to be part of the industry that has shaped her life. She hopes to continue the long tradition of excellence and to help this amazing industry grow stronger and prouder while meeting new people and learning new things along the way. Sara is honored to be given this opportunity and will proudly do her best to serve this industry to the best of her ability. As always for Sara, “life is better on the ranch.”

National Western Stock Show Catch-A-Calf Program Features Shorthorn Steers

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (January 24, 2022) – The Catch-A-Calf program at the National Western has welcomed nearly 3,000 steers to 4-H families throughout the western United States in its 80-plus years. The American Shorthorn Association is honored to announce that the 2021-2022 program featured Shorthorn steers provided by Peak View Ranch of Fowler, Colorado. This involvement aligns perfectly as the American Shorthorn Association celebrates its 150th Anniversary as a breed association in America.

“The American Shorthorn Association is the oldest beef breed association in the US. As a result, Shorthorns pulled the wagons, provided milk and beef as the west was settled. Today we are proud to have a long history with the NWSS and provide Shorthorn cattle for the youth of our industry to gain this experience,” explains Montie D. Soules, Executive Secretary/CEO of the American Shorthorn Association. “Marking our 150th year with 40 Shorthorn steers being raised by 4-H members across the western United States, exemplifies the strength in our breed as it continues to excel today.”

“Shorthorn cattle are the beginning of cattle in America. They are integral in many of the breeds that exist today, and we are celebrating that this year,” comments Trish Leone of Peak View Ranch on the importance of ASA’s 150th Celebration.

Each January participants gather in Denver, Colorado to catch a calf; if successful, members continue to feed and raise the steer throughout the coming year and return one year later with a market-ready animal to exhibit at the National Western Stock Show. Participates are judged on showmanship, record books and a personal interview; steers are judged on production and carcass quality.

The American Shorthorn Association sponsored more than 70 individual awards and prizes for the program in categories from interview, production, record book, sponsor relations, live evaluation, showmanship and overall champions.

Rick Leone of Peak View Ranch adds, “Shorthorns have such an advantage in terms of docility, gain and yield grade. With such a rich tradition of family involvement, Shorthorn’s are great first project for kids.”

The 2022 Grand Champion Catch-A-Calf steer was exhibited by Cami Miller of El Dorado, Kansas, congratulations to all participants! Individual interested in participating in future years can find applicant information at nationalwestern.com.

Best of the Barns Recognizes Shorthorns in Two Award Categories

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (January 21, 2022) – The most prestigious awards in the livestock industry, the Best of the Barns recognizes the American Junior Shorthorn Association (AJSA) in two 2021 award categories.

The National Junior Shorthorn Show held in Louisville, Kentucky received 10,735 votes, winning the ‘Most Enjoyable Junior Nationals’ award for the second year in a row. This past National Junior Shorthorn Show set records for entries with over 900 entries from 28 states. The AJSA strives to engage its members in opportunities that develop character, promote valuable skills and build life-long friendships.

“We call ourselves the family friendly breed, and if you know the people in the breed, you know it is true. It is what makes us really special and keeps families coming back.” says Shelby Diehm, AJSA Director of Youth Activities. “It is very exciting to win most enjoyable junior national for the second year in a row”.

Going above and beyond, Diehm was recognized in the Best of the Barns awards as the Best Jr. Activities Director, receiving an impressive 11,731 votes.

“It is an honor to win best junior activity director this year. I am coming up on six years with the ASA and AJSA and I love my job more and more each day.” As Director of Youth Activities, Diehm oversees the annual Junior Nationals and serves as the AJSA Junior Board Adviser.

Diehm goes onto say she is “truly blessed to be surrounded by the best junior board who make my job even better. The Shorthorn youth and their families are what make my job and junior national the best”

The Best of the Barns nationwide awards program recognizes the best of the best within the livestock industry. For a complete list of award winners visit pulse.sullivansupply.com.

The 2022 National Junior Shorthorn Show is June 19-25 in Kansas City, Mo. Visit www.juniorshorthorn.org for more information.

Message from ASA President

I want to thank all the breeders who have reached out to me or other board members with questions or thoughts on the new ASA rule regarding DNA testing for bulls, that goes into effect in January. As Board members, it’s important that we hear from breeders and stay abreast of their questions and concerns.

The new testing rule came about after we learned that, across a number of breeds that do DNA testing, there are a significant and increasing number of cattle that are registered that do not match their listed parentage. These errors are often unintentional (the wrong semen was used, the calf was born between the AI date and the turn out date, etc), but nevertheless the registration is incorrect. This is not just a Shorthorn problem, it is one many breeds face, and a number of breed associations are taking similar steps to address the issue.

Ultimately the goal is to help assure that an individual animal’s pedigree is accurate and breeders can be confident in the genetic background of an animal they use in their breeding program.

In developing the rule, we looked at what other breeds are doing or considering and what would be reasonable for the majority of our breeders. After looking at the options, the Board felt that requiring testing for Shorthorn bulls that would be used to produce pedigreed Shorthorns and Shorthorn Plus would be the fairest approach. This approach would allow breeders to continue to register all bull calves and would have a minimal impact on the majority of commercial bull sales.

In the long term, the Board felt this approach would begin to address the issue of inaccurate registration and provide greater assurance to purebred breeders that the genetics they select to add to their herds are “as advertised”. Couple this with an increased demand, across all sectors of the beef industry, for increased genetic information, and we felt this was a reasonable solution. As breeders wondering about the impact on their own program, a few things to keep in mind.

DNA testing is NOT required to register a calf. Only those bulls, born in 2022 or after, that will be used to sire registered cattle will need to be tested.Bulls can be tested at any time, and their status adjusted. So a bull sold to a commercial herd that turns out to be a superior sire, can be tested as a mature bull and then used to sire pedigreed offspring. Parental verification can be done as a separate genetic test or included in most of the current DNA tests, allowing breeders flexibility in the costs associated with the testing.

While it will always be a challenge to be error free in our respective programs, the intent of the Board is to assure the accuracy and integrity of your breeding decisions, helping maintain the value of your cattle for both you and your customers.

Joe Bales, ASA Board President

American Shorthorn Association Elects New Board Members and Officers

During the American Shorthorn Association Annual Meeting on October 23, delegates from across the country gathered to elect new ASA board members and officers at the Hilton Kansas City Airport.

The nominating committee submitted three candidates for the available positions. Jeff Bedwell of Isabella, Okla., Toby Jordan of Rensselaer, Ind. and John Sonderman of Columbus, Neb. All three will serve a three-year term; Bedwell will serve his first term, Jordan and Sonderman will serve their second term.

The board elected new officers for the nine-member board. Joe Bales of Morristown, Tenn. was elected president and John Sonderman of Columbus, Neb. was elected Vice President. Dave Greenhorn of Waynesville, Ohio was appointed as the Executive Director. They serve alongside Board Members Toby Jordan of Indiana, Jerrell Crow of Oklahoma, Lee Miller of Ohio, John Russell of Texas, Mark Gordon of Illinois and Jeff Bedwell of Oklahoma.

During the meeting, the association recognized Hugh Mooney of Calif. for his six years on the Board of Directors. Most recently, Mooney served as President following his time as a director and Vice-President.

American Shorthorn Association Announces Release of “Shorthorn and the American Cattle Industry”

“Shorthorn and the American Cattle Industry” will be released Saturday, October 23rd as the American Shorthorn Association kicks off their Sesquicentennial year as America’s First beef breed association. Written by Dr. Bob Hough and Dr. Bert Moore, this coffee table style book is unique without a doubt. 

“Writing this book was a labor of love for Dr. Bert Moore and me.” Said Dr. Bob Hough, “We had the time, curiosity and backing of the Association to dig deep into all aspects of the breed and our industry to reveal the important, but often forgotten events and people that have made the cattle business what it is today.” 

Comprised of 26 chapters, 270 pages and over 800 photos, the commissioned book exemplifies the American Shorthorn Association’s prestigious position in the history of the animal breeding industry. 

Andy Frazier, author, livestock historian and host of the Podcast, “Top Lines and Tales” of the United Kingdom was “amazed at the depth of research the authors have gone to in order to underpin the origins of the Shorthorn Breed.” He adds, “the opening chapters of this book are as equally fascinating to the non-agriculturist as they are to the cattle enthusiast in general.” 

“This book depicts not only Shorthorn, but the American cattle industry as a whole.” states Executive Secretary/CEO of the American Shorthorn Association, Montie D. Soules. Soules goes onto say “This becomes a must read for anyone who has ever had an interest in the purebred cattle industry. I doubt there will ever be another book written with as much detail as Dr. Hough and Dr. Moore have done. The authors did a great job.” 

Limited-edition books are available now at shorthorn.org for ordering, with multiple pickup or shipping options to meet your needs.