Closing the Gate: A Glimpse of Your Future

02:24AM Apr 26, 2014
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Greg Henderson cropped

There’s a glimpse of both the past and the future inside the pages of this issue. On page 18 we reveal the summary of an online survey we conducted in January with Certified Angus Beef, LLC (CAB). To no one’s surprise, our respondents confirm Angus genetics dominate America’s cowherd.

By all measures, the CAB program has been a tremendous success. It’s done everything the American Angus Association hoped—and more—when the program was launched 36 years ago. Demand for CAB product has grown at a rapid pace, specifically because consumers quickly recognized the high quality, and the brand consistently offered an enjoyable eating experience. As demand for CAB grew, so did the demand for Angus bulls—exactly what CAB’s founders envisioned. Indeed, CAB is so popular the program’s biggest hurdle remains finding enough cattle that qualify.

Then and now. During the past few years the robust demand for Angus created by CAB trickled into sale barns and feedyards. If there was a single trait that suggested performance and quality as cattle ran through a sale ring it was a black hide. To their credit, the American Angus Association capitalized on that popularity with expanded programs to support their breeders and commercial operations. They built a vast service organization and a database that is the envy of all other breeds.

But that’s the past. Our cover story in this issue is a glimpse of your future. That future, and the future of your industry’s success is data.

Sure, Angus may play a critical role in that future. In fact, it’s most obvious Angus has a head start toward the future—a huge data base, large membership with quality-oriented breeders and a large association staff. But there are no guarantees, and there will be no breed loyalty among cattlemen using data to build their cowherds and fill feedlot pens.

Last month I caught a glimpse of this new data-fueled revolution at Decatur County Feed Yard in Oberlin, Kan. The focus of the day was strategies to improve both ranch profitability and consumer satisfaction. Angus does not have a patent on either of those goals.

What I heard from ranchers and saw in the pens was how they have changed the way they select bulls and modified how they measure success. Most preferred using composite bulls that offer the laundry list of modern data, yet also provide the hybrid vigor that comes from crossbreeding. Angus is a mainstay in most of those herds, and a critical component to many of the best composite sires.

Data, however, makes it much easier for cowmen and feedlot buyers to look past hide color. Modern measurements and accurate calculations that drive profit, carcass quality and eating satisfaction will rapidly become standard.

Today’s higher cattle prices will only encourage buyers to look past hide color and demand more
assurance of health, performance and quality. Success is in the data.

greg henderson

Editorial Director, Beef Today, writes from Mission, Kan. Contact Greg at [email protected]