Much of your success in the beef business hinges on the genetics of your cow herd, or — if you’re a stocker operator or a cattle feeder — your ability to buy and manage someone else’s genetics.
Indeed, given the multiple challenges you face that are beyond your control — drought, rising feed and fuel costs, escalating land values — genetic selection may be the single most important component of your operation that you control. That’s why a couple of messages contained in this month's issue of Drovers/CattleNetwork are so important. Both messengers want you as a customer while our industry begins rebuilding from this year’s devastating drought.
The messengers are two of America’s most respected breed organizations, the American Angus Association and the American Hereford Association. Together these two breeds provide a genetic influence on the majority of commercial herds. Both breeds have a rich tradition and a long list of prominent breeders to their credit. Both breeds also have successful branded-beef programs that carry their name.
But their advertising messages this fall are vastly different. One is more traditional, the other more bold and, most assuredly, controversial.
Let’s begin with the more traditional message, brought to you by the American Hereford Association. An advertising insert attached to page 11 of this month's issue makes the case for using Hereford genetics in your herd. For instance, research at various universities has documented the outstanding qualities of Hereford females, calving ease, docility and the breed’s feed efficiency. Hereford is America’s second-largest breed registry, with 70,260 registrations, 37,091 transfers and 101,021 cows in the breed’s inventory.
The new, bold message — that prompts this column — comes from the American Angus Association. By all accounts, Angus has become a dominant force in the American cattle industry and is currently the nation’s largest registry with 294,975 animals registered in 2011. Surveys suggest about 70 percent of the nation’s cow herd now carries at least some Angus genetic influence. And, right or wrong, black-hided calves often bring a premium at auction.
The Angus message — found on pages 18 and 19 of this month's issue — goes beyond touting the breed’s qualities and characteristics. Indeed, the starting point for the advertisement assumes that you already know a lot about the quality of Angus genetics that provide benefits to both producers and consumers. That’s why the Angus Association is asking commercial cowmen to go all Angus. In other words, Angus is asking you to forego the use of crossbreeding.