Seedstock producers and enthusiasts from across the country joined together at the annual Young Guns Conference June 17 – 19 in Loveland, Colo., to network and learn how they could advance the reliability, trustworthiness and overall value of their seedstock for their customers – the cow-calf producers, the feeders and the packers.
Co-hosted by the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) and the American Simmental Association (ASA), the three-day conference covered a wide range of beef industry-related topics including breeding legacies, operational efficiencies, genetic testing and emerging research.
A common thread throughout this year’s conference presentations was learning from past lessons and applying them to present situations to ensure breeds’ continued profitability and sustained growth for the future.
Leading off the conference was Dr. Kevin Pond, animal sciences department head at Colorado State University (CSU). Pond talked about the past successes of CSU’s animal breeding program and recognized that in order to continue any breed’s legacy and sustainability, collaborative efforts and continued research – such as the Young Guns Conference – were musts.
Seedstock breeders have been faced with many production challenges, including how to remain profitable in a competitive market. Dr. Mark Enns, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at CSU, and Larry Keenan, breed improvement director for RAAA, discussed how operational efficiency could help sustain – and if the right traits were selected – improve a breeder’s bottom line over time.
Both Enns and Keenan discussed the value of incorporating feed conversion data and other routinely collected information such as weights into the next generation of genetic predictions. “Data collection is the key,” said Keenan. “We need to focus on collecting high-quality data from commercial producers and seedstock operations to build up the databases for our breed associations.”
Enns said genetic relationships are favorable to identify heritable traits and once breeders collect that data, associations work to translate it into EPDs through the National Cattle Evaluation.
Young Guns attendees learned about the present technologies and tools within the industry that can help them produce better beef.
One of these technologies is RA50K – Red Angus’ genomic data test that measures the reliability of traits within a herd. This information can help breeders select for desirable traits such as weaning weight or marbling, which will in turn produce a better beef end product.