Great beef starts with seedstock focus, which is everyday life for Art and Stacy Butler of Spring Cove Ranch near Bliss, Idaho. For more than a century, the Butler family has raised registered Angus seedstock on the western range.
Our main emphasis is to produce Angus bulls that will go out and make cows for the commercial cattlemen that will survive in this environment, medium statured cattle with good udders, good foot quality,” says Art Bliss. “We also like to put as much meat qualities, marbling and rib eye and those things and those cattle as well. So the feeder and the packer can also benefit for most cattle. Ultimately the consumer.”
That’s been a Butler philosophy for decades, well before they saw a return on the investment.
“My dad always said to me, he said, "Someday we're going to get paid for what these black cattle are worth," he says.
And today, they do.
“Well, helping our customers market their cattle, and more than that, trying to help our customers get a premium for the genetics that they've invested in has been at the forefront of our minds since we started having our bull sale and marketing as many Angus bulls as we do, because the premium that is paid by the consumer at the end needs to trickle down to the cow-calf man that is actually producing that calf,” Stacy says.
Their years of work to breed functional cattle that create both rancher and consumer satisfaction earned Spring Cove Ranch the 2019 Certified Angus Beef “Seedstock Commitment to Excellence” Award.
By targeting the genetics that we're going to meet the specs for certified Angus beef, that is the target that we set,” Stacy says. “Therein, when we first started studying and following the Beef Quality Audit, and realized how few of the black-hided cattle actually met the visual specifications for CAB did not meet the carcass quality specifications, it was due to marbling; we started searching for bulls that could survive in our western environment, yet also provide more marbling to the genetic equation.”
To prioritize marbling has added value for the Butlers, without losing performance.
“It's something that you can add to these cattle no matter what size and what your goals are as far as productivity, or if you want to maximize yearling growth or whatever,” Art says. “You can add marbling for, I mean it's a free addition basically.”
One they’ve been able to add while keeping their cow herd on track.
A lot of people think that marbling and fleshing ability is contradictory traits, but with enough animals and enough data and enough pressure, selection pressure, you can enhance the marbling and still get it in a package that you like, that fits your environment,” he says.
And one that produces a quality product that keeps beef consumers coming back for more.