KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lacey Livestock was presented the AHA Hereford Industry Innovator Award by the American Hereford Association (AHA) during the National Western Stock Show Hereford Carload and Pen Show in Denver, Jan. 15.
Lacey Livestock, managed by father-son team, John and Mark, is based in Independence, Calif. The company has been cooperating with AHA, Harris Feeding Co. and Harris Ranch Beef Co. since 2005, in a research project studying the value of heterosis. The objective of the project is to conduct a controlled crossbreeding system comparing progeny sired by Hereford and Angus bulls under commercial conditions, emphasizing economic differences at the ranch, feedlot and packing plant.
“When we asked John and Mark if they would be willing to work with us on the Harris Ranch study, they both jumped at the opportunity,” says Craig Huffhines, AHA executive vice president. “They have always been loyal to the industry first. They have strived to protect our ranching rights, and they have never turned down an opportunity to evaluate those things that can make commercial cattlemen more profitable.”
The Laceys’ ranch began with Hereford and Shorthorn cattle. From 1997 to 2004 the Laceys exclusively used Angus bulls participating in the Harris Ranch Partnership for Quality program, and as time progressed they say they lost heterosis in their herd. “Heterosis is invaluable,” Mark says. “From my observations at the ranch, as we lost heterosis, we were seeing more health issues and the weaning weights just held their own.
“It was our opinion that we couldn’t continue to just breed to Angus indefinitely and continue to lose heterosis in our herd. Harris agreed to allow the trials of other breeds to see if they could meet the company’s carcass requirements. The Hereford Association stepped up and was willing to participate. My dad has always been a Hereford fan, so it was a perfect fit for us.”
To start the project, 400 mature Angus-based cows were sorted and identified with electronic ear tags in the Lacey Livestock program. Cows were randomly mated to 10 Hereford or 10 Angus bulls, selected based on rigorous genetic parameters (expected progeny differences [EPDs]) for overall merit. The project is being conducted for a three-year period, the typical lifespan of a bull under Western range conditions. To have more numbers for the project in year two and three, Lacey Livestock increased the number of cows to 600 and the number of Hereford bulls to 16.
“The baldie females are the biggest pay off for us participating in the project,” Mark says. “It is allowing us to get some heterosis back in our cow herd.”
Mark says he and his father are anxious to see the improvements in fertility, longevity and health. “In the cattle business, fertility and longevity is what make us money,” Mark says.
The female data showed that the baldie females had a 7% advantage in pregnancy rate in 2008. As more data are compiled and reviewed, the Laceys expect to see even more value with the Hereford-sired females and their calves. Mark says the heterosis is giving them increased calf survivability and a better weaning percentage.
The Lacey family has been ranching in California since 1870. Altogether, Lacey Livestock consists of 60,000 acres with approximately 2,000 cows. The family is also in partnership on 230,000 acres of leased land, which is home to stocker cattle.
The American Hereford Association, with headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the largest U.S. beef breed associations. The not-for-profit organization along with its subsidiaries — Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) LLC, Hereford Publications Inc. (HPI) and American Beef Records Association (ABRA) — provides programs and services for its members and their customers, while promoting the Hereford breed and supporting education, youth and research. For more information about the Association, visit www.Hereford.org.
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American Hereford Association
Marketing and National Shows
Kansas City, MO 64108
phone (816) 842-3757
fax (816) 842-6931
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