The American Angus Association® reports another solid year for those who raise and benefit from Angus cattle. During the organization’s 130-year history, demand for high-quality beef has never been stronger, and genetic selection technology is more comprehensive than ever before.
Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) announced a seventh consecutive record sales year with one of the largest gains since the program began in 1978, and Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) reports more cattlemen are rapidly adopting high-density genomic trait tests.
Most importantly, optimism is rising as cattlemen begin rebuilding their herds.
“The cattle business has faced some challenging times during recent years, but the industry is poised for growth and our producers are equipped to rebuild the nation’s herd with leading Angus genetics,” says Bryce Schumann, Association chief executive officer. “Our members’ dedication to quality genetics and their ability to build the most reliable database in the cattle business has kept the Angus breed strong.”
The Association’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 ended Sept. 30, with members registering nearly 289,000 animals. Individual states that topped the list for Angus registrations were Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma, respectively.
Year-end data also show that Angus breeders grossed more than $265 million in reported sales from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013. Angus bull sales averaged $4,398 per head, while Angus female sales averaged $3,589 per head in reported sales; a rise of about 6%.
Incorporating new technology
Angus breeders submit thousands of records every day to the Association headquarters in Saint Joseph, Mo. The information is added to the organization's growing database, which currently houses records on approximately 20 million animals on its servers. That computing power comprises the largest single-breed beef cattle database in the world and allows for the weekly release of expected progeny differences (EPDs) — a capability that facilitates more rapid and accurate herd improvement.
Genomic information is quickly becoming a significant component of the Association’s performance data. Thanks to its subsidiary Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI), record numbers of Angus cattle have been tested using high-density genomic trait tests. In fact, results are now included in evaluations for more than 40,000 animals.
The uptake in this technology provides Angus breeders the opportunity to better characterize herd genetics and make dependable breed improvements. AGI processes DNA samples used for parentage verification, genetic condition testing and the development of genomic-enhanced EPDs. In FY13, AGI processed more than 100,000 DNA samples.
“The past year has been a monumental one in terms of strengthening genomic data for the Angus breed,” says Bill Bowman, AGI president and Association chief operating officer. “Research collaboration, improved technology and a growing number of test results have allowed for a more streamlined approach to EPD computation and the information we are able to provide breeders.”
Producers are using advanced technology to access that information through their smartphones or mobile devices. Angus Mobile, a free app available to anyone with an interest in Angus cattle, provides access to AAA Login and other important Association services.
With more than 16,000 downloads, the application allows producers to submit herd records at the touch of a button, right from their barn or pasture.
“We’re always looking for ways to increase convenience for members,” Schumann says. “And we will continue to improve record-keeping systems and available technology for producers.”
Promoting the breed
The increased use of technology also pertains to the Association’s efforts to promote the business breed. The organization added another vehicle to its suite of communications tools in FY13 – Angus Talk radio. The 30-minute program airs on SiriusXM Satellite Radio at 11 a.m. EST (10 a.m. CST) every Saturday morning, exclusively on RURAL RADIO, Channel 80. Angus Talk is hosted by Doug Medlock, the voice of I Am Angus®, and features timely discussion and commentary on the issues that matter most to cattle producers.
Angus television programs The Angus Report and I Am Angus continue to reach a growing audience, to the tune of about 5 million this year, thanks to viewers on RFD-TV and YouTube.
Angus Journal also continued it’s efforts to provide the most comprehensive Angus industry news online, launching Angus Journal Digital and allowing the full edition of the Association’s flagship publication to reach electronic subscribers two weeks earlier.
True to tradition, printed publications remain a staple in the cattle business. In FY13, Angus Productions Inc. produced nearly 400 sale catalogs for producers throughout the country.
Capping off the fiscal year for the Angus Journal, the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA was deemed the livestock industry’s No. 1 newsletter (print or electronic) in the Livestock Publications Council Critique Contest. Among other wins, the Angus Journal’s event coverage site for the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) symposium was named the livestock industry’s No. 1 website.
Meanwhile, producers also generated more funds for advancing the breed through the Angus Foundation, the Association’s non-profit affiliate dedicated to advancing education, youth and research initiatives important to the long-term viability of the cattle business. The organization reports a record year in revenues, which exceeded $2 million for the first time.
Generous donors and allied industry friends are to thank for the funds that will go toward advancing the Angus Foundation’s mission. In FY13 alone, the Angus Foundation awarded more than $225,000 in undergraduate and graduate student scholarships.
Supplying the brand
Success for the Angus breed continued through the supply chain in FY13. Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) achieved its seventh consecutive sales record, totaling 865 million pounds. That’s up 54 million pounds from last year, one of the largest year-to-year gains in the branded beef program’s history. In August, nearing the close of FY13, the Certified Angus Beef®brand sold 83 million pounds of product in a single month — a first for the brand.
Also promising is the fact that a record number of black-hided cattle have been accepted into the Certified Angus Beef®brand. During FY13, CAB reported a 24.2% acceptance rate for cattle entering the processing plant: “We have never in the history of this program seen an acceptance rate of 24.2%,” says CAB Senior Vice President Brent Eichar. “That’s the result of producers using the tools and good genetics available to them to make breeding decisions.”
Eichar also notes resources such as the GeneMax™ DNA test that predicts marbling and gain, and AngusSource® Genetic that adds value to Angus-sired calves, both aid in the pursuit of supplying more CAB-branded cattle.
With these market trends, Angus producers — especially those focused on quality — are positioned to benefit from growing interest in Angus genetics from commercial cattlemen and growing consumer interest in the brand.
“These are exciting times to be in the cattle business, specifically, the Angus business.” Schumann says. “We’re looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings.”
To learn more about the Association’s year-end highlights, visit www.ANGUS.org in the coming weeks to access the 2013 Annual Report or episodes of The Angus Report.