June 21, 2023
The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) has announced finalists for its Seedstock and Commercial Producer awards. Both developed in 1972, the Seedstock Producer Award recognizes outstanding seedstock producers across the continent while the Commercial Producer Award recognizes commercial producers for their dedication to improving the beef industry at the commercial level.
Finalists for this year’s Seedstock Producer Award are Benchmark Ranch Ltd., Cudlobe Angus and 44 Farms.
Benchmark Ranch Ltd. is located in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. The Munton family has been in the cattle business since 1912 and in the purebred Angus business since 1960. In 2000, Benchmark Angus put down roots by purchasing the Morton Ranch on the Milk River Ridge just north of the Montana border in Southern Alberta. Today, the ranch encompasses 12,000 acres in an open habitat environment receiving less than 12 inches of rain per year. Benchmark Angus manages 300 purebred Angus cows with an annual bull sale every November 30, operates a 1,500-head feedlot, a 100-head Grow Safe System, and has its own harvesting facility marketing Benchmark Beef into Lethbridge, Calgary and Banff areas.
Cudlobe Angus, located in Stavely, Alberta, Canada, was established in 1967 when Together Dyce and David Bolduc purchased the first three Angus cows. They grew the operation from those three cows to more than 700 purebred Angus cows, 4,000 acres of grain land, and 5,000 pasture acres. The cows are calved during the Canadian winter in January and February in order to take advantage of the clean environment, and the best timing for the December sale in which 160 yearling bulls are sold. Cudlobe was very active in the show ring up to the early 2000s, when they looked to science to better their herd and create more efficient cattle which excel in their environment. This goal has led to the whole herd having performance records, being CUP ultra-sounded, and Angus GS DNA tested. Science is used at every turn, with Cudlobe being some of the earliest adopters of AI, Allflex heat sense tags, and striving to help the Canadian Angus Association in their various research projects including immunity testing, foot scores and performance testing.
In Cameron, Texas, Bob McClaren, president of 44 Farms, wanted to create a seedstock program that from day one would help ranchers move beyond commodities and make a living putting food on America’s table. He decided Black Angus cattle were the way to do that, and on a cold November night in 2003, the first Angus cows were delivered to Cameron. Finishing cattle was a new venture in the fall of 2008 when they finished some cattle at CRI Feeders in Guymon, Oklahoma. This set of steers graded 65% USDA Prime and the conception of a high-quality, all-natural beef product was born. The idea resulted in the launching of the 44 Steaks program in the spring of 2010. Walmart has since asked 44 Farms to help them uplevel their beef offering. Today, 44 Farms is working with over 1,100 ranchers from 26 states across the United States, providing cattle for the Prime Pursuits program to deliver beef to approximately 565 Walmart stores throughout the Southeast. It is also marketing 2,000 bulls a year through private treaty and four annual bull sales, along with five live and online female sales a year.
The winner of the Seedstock Producer Award will be announced during the BIF Symposium Awards Luncheon on July 5.
Commercial Producer Award finalists are Callahan Brothers LLC and Douglas Lake Cattle Company.
Callahan Brothers LLC, located in Centerview, Missouri, is owned and managed by T.J. and Jake Callahan. They have been in the cattle business their whole lives with their father raising Limousin cattle since 1990. Brothers, TJ and Jake Callahan, partner together via Callahan Brothers LLC in their commercial cow operation. They run approximately 300 head of commercial Limousin cross cows that they breed to primarily registered purebred Limousin bulls, which are produced out of their registered Limousin herd. Half of the herd is spring bred with the remainder in the fall. They have a split calving season to diversify the marketing of their feeder cattle and reduce market risk for their commercial cattle production. They market their feeder cattle through Kingsville Livestock in Kingsville, Missouri. Their No. 1 goal is to produce high-quality commercial cattle that are in demand and remain profitable with current industry market conditions that work for all sectors of the beef industry and fit into the commercial feeding, packing and retail meat business. Long term, they are wanting to purchase additional land in order to expand and be less reliant on leasing additional acres to operate efficiently into the future. They also run a bulk feed and custom application business.
Located in Douglas Lake, British Columbia, Douglas Lake Cattle Company was incorporated in 1884 and consists of four ranch divisions — Douglas Lake Ranch, Alkali Lake Ranch (acquired in 2008), Riske Creek Ranch (in 2016) and Gang Ranch (in 2022). All divisions are located in south central British Columbia and have a combined carrying capacity of 13,000 mother cows on a land base of 1.8 million acres of deeded and crown grazing combined. The cow herd consists mostly of black Angus cattle with some Hereford influence and Charolais for a terminal cross. All cows are spring calving with replacements selected in-house and bulls purchased. Record keeping and data analytics are a central part of their management strategy. All ranch divisions are analyzed individually in all aspects of production from crop production to cattle. At the Douglas Lake division, they background around 1,300 steers for grass and sell as long yearlings. All other divisions sell their calves in the fall and retain only mature cows, replacement heifers and bulls over the winter-feeding period. All feed production is produced in-house on 9,000 acres of irrigated land growing a variety of crops including grass, alfalfa, barley and silage corn. The Douglas Lake Division also operates a tourism business centered around rainbow trout fishing, RV camping, a hotel and resort accommodations. Long weekends in the summer months will see up to 800 guests visit the ranch at the various resort locations with around 7,000 visits annually.
The winner of the Commercial Producer Award will be announced during the BIF Symposium Awards Luncheon on July 4.
BIF will host its 55th Annual Beef Improvement Federation Symposium July 3-6 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For a complete schedule and registration information, visit BIFSymposium.com.
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