Feast or Famine

“Feast or famine” pretty well describes our current weather pattern. We’ve been fortunate, as of late, to receive some timely rains. The overseeded pastures are beginning to spring to life. As long as old man winter isn’t too brutal, we should be okay through the winter with available hay stores on hand.

This time of year is always fun, both professionally and personally. Personally, we really enjoy the Christmas season watching the world through the eyes of our children. They see the best in everyone. They can’t contain their excitement and are beginning to understand that giving is as much fun as receiving.

Professionally, this is breeding season on the ranch. This is the time that sets the path for the next 2-3 years and, hopefully, beyond. Visitors to the ranch typically inquire about how we select sires and why we do what we do. Our operation is no different than most really. We always strive to produce what our customers demand. In our scenario this can be two quite diverse groups.

We try to identify 5-7 sires each year that we think will cross good on our heifers and cows. In this group will be two young sires that aren’t all that proven. The remaining bulls will be sires with actual progeny performance records and carcass information. I was asked the question the other day, “what is proven”? Proven, to us, is a sire with approximately 30 carcass records. Notice, we do not concentrate on birth, weaning or yearling information as most of the sires selected come from documented, progeny proven pedigrees that excel for growth performance. Further, the American Angus Association has thousands of growth performance phenotypes available to train the genomic panels responsible for genomically-enhanced EPDs. Not so with carcass traits. Frankly, there aren’t enough bulls in the breed that have documented carcass data. We strictly use young sires that are sired by bulls with a desired number of carcass progeny to help give our customers a reasonable chance to be successful. The proven bulls simply keep us on the right path. We demand CED over 10, with marbling and ribeye over 1.00 in most instances. We like all the growth we can get, just as long as we don’t make our cows too big. We follow feed efficiency, but in reality those traits are in their infancy (i.e. not enough actual phenotypic measurements to put faith in genomic markers associated with residual average daily gain and dry matter intake). We don’t chase extremes, rather, we intend to keep cattle middle of the road until we have better information. Oftentimes, super high $Beef bulls are the result of extremely high carcass weight and residual average daily gain. We don’t use most of these sires as they don’t have documented progeny performance through the feedlot phase.

We sell our females in Wadley, Georgia, with Ogeechee Angus Farm on the second Saturday in April. In the southeastern U.S., producers want a functional cow with a little extra milk. They still demand a cow “look the part.” Longevity, structural correctness, udder quality and docility will never go out of style. The females we generate cover these bases or don’t stay around very long. They also excel for end product traits as documented by pedigree proven feedlot performance and carcass merit in the sires we use.

Our bulls are sold through three sales at Gardiner Angus Ranch (GAR) in Kansas. Given the geographical and cultural differences from the southeast, the clientele present at these sales often have different preferences as well. Thankfully, having spent a large portion of my life in Oklahoma, we have a bit of insight to this varying viewpoint. Bull customers in the west depend on calving ease direct (CED), growth, and end product merit. Ranches here are big and labor is not plentiful. Ranchers depend on the bulls to sire optimum sized calves that are born without assistance. The trick is to balance these growth traits with impeccable end product merit. Currently, 70% of fed cattle grade USDA Choice. I would venture to guess that customers at GAR were at that level several years ago. They want more every year as many depend on retained ownership premiums to add additional value. They demand we push the envelope on calving ease and end product traits, while simultaneously creating cattle that have longevity and maternal ability.

We enjoy servicing all our customers and helping in any way we can. If we can ever be of service to you please don’t hesitate to contact us or schedule a visit. The response we’ve seen for CAM Nutrition has been overwhelming. For this we are grateful. We can always be reached through our website or on our cell phones.