We all have our favorite brands. Trucks, tractors, jeans, boots – you name it, and you’re bound to have a particular brand that you prefer above the rest. And, companies invest loads of time and money into making sure their product brand is easily recognizable in a crowd.

Cattle buyers don’t have it so easy. In 2012, it’s estimated that nearly 75% of U.S. cattle will be black hided. So if a cattle buyer is looking for Angus, how can they be sure? There isn’t an Angus logo branded on a calf’s forehead to guarantee genetics. Some breed characteristics stand out; however, determining just how much Angus influence there is in a group of black-hided calves can be difficult.

One solution:  AngusSource®. Enrolling calves and verifying they are at least 50% Angus genetics does a lot to tell buyers what is in the sale ring and how it might fit their needs. By documenting group age, source and the bulls used to sire the calf crop, AngusSource animals come with added information, and value, that is appealing to prospective customers.

AngusSource also offer producers the option to use an online marketing document to advertise calves. The document gives buyers a heads up on the sale location and time, vaccinations and booster shots, as well as other management practices. Buyers will be able to see a list of bulls used and current EPDs from American Angus Association® records.

So, what kind of premium will AngusSource guarantee a cattle producer if they enroll their calves? That’s a standard question from producers shopping for an age-verification program. AngusSource cannot guarantee more money for calves than previous years; it all depends on what is selling and what buyers are purchasing. But, AngusSource could be a step in the right direction.

The results matter

Feedback, both positive and constructive, is what continues to improve the AngusSource program year after year. The Association team spends hours visiting with enrolled producers about how AngusSource is working for their operation. And, each operation has the option to fill out a customer feedback form in order to be entered to in the Premium Value Challenge held each quarter.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, customer feedback forms received by AngusSource reported 1,876 head sold through local sale barns in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, Montana and South Dakota. Producers provided a head count on the number sold in each weight class and the price of each group. By comparing that information to sale data of calves selling in the same area and weight class, AngusSource participants can determine whether or not a premium was paid.

The latest numbers show an approximate $9 premium, across the board, for AngusSource calves versus other animals sold at the auction barn.

Video auctions are seeing the same success rate. AngusSource producers who sell via video auction also fill out the customer feedback form, and the Association is able to document how each lot of AngusSource calves sold by checking individual websites.

A recorded 35,492 AngusSource calves have sold through video auctions since the beginning of the 2012 year. After comparing prices listed online against data from calves selling during the same week and weight class, it again was in favor of AngusSource. Documented calves received about $9.41 higher than other groups selling in respective areas.

Granted, these numbers do not take into account whether or not the calves were weaned, had shots or had been enrolled in any additional value-added program. It’s a snapshot of random groups marketed through both video sales and auction barns.

The numbers do teach producers to pay attention to what buyers are looking for in specific regions of the country. And animals that gain and grade well in a reasonable amount of time will almost always be in high demand. Not all black calves will make the grade for the Certified Angus Beef®(CAB) brand; so take necessary steps to make your cow herd stand apart from the rest.

Aim toward higher quality

Speaking of brands, CAB continuously grows in popularity. Once people try a juicy, flavorful steak, it is difficult to purchase any other type. In fact, CAB brand partners sold more than 800 million pounds of beef in the past fiscal year. That's the sixth year of consecutive growth for brand.Why not try to produce calves that could potentially meet CAB carcass specifications? Here are several resources to get started.

  • Visit with your bull supplier or contact the Association Regional Manager from your area to discuss genetic selection for your next bull purchase.
  • Check out the Fall 2012 Sire Summary and look at the breed’s average expected progeny differences (EPDs) for traits you feel would improve your herd. If you are not sure what you want to improve, enter a few calves in a steer feedout contest to identify an area to target.
  • Talk with a Certified Angus Beef Specialists about GeneMax. Gene-Max is a new DNA tool that is Angus-specific and designed for commercial herds using registered Angus sires to evaluate marbling and post-weaning gain on high-percentage Angus cattle.

Develop a brand

Developing cattle and a brand that customers can rely on and will seek out ahead of the competition is easy to do with the help of AngusSource. Enrolling in the AngusSource program is one way to set your operation apart, and the American Angus Association offers several other tips for taking advantage of Angus genetics.