Every year during the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual symposium, one of the most anticipated announcements of the event is the winner of the Commercial and Seedstock Producer of the year award winners. That’s because, for an organization that has spent 50 years encouraging the research as well as the on-the-ground application of technologies and management practices that improve beef cattle genetics, the BIF awards, sponsored by BEEF, recognize the best of the best in the genetic improvement process.
Here’s a look at the 2014 winners:
Commercial Producer of the Year
The BIF Commercial Producer of the Year award went to CB Farms Family Partnership of Preston, KS, owned and managed by Berry, Carla and Brandon Bortz.
The operation got its start a week after Berry and Carla graduated from Kansas State University in 1982, when they got married and began farming in eastern Pratt County near Preston, KS. They started with two irrigated circles, two dryland quarters and about 300 acres of grass, which they used to background calves.
Their family began in 1986 with the birth of their son Brandon, followed by their daughter, Amber, in 1987 and son, Darnell, in 1991. As the kids grew, so did the farm. In 2001, they started their cowherd and reduced the number of cattle purchased per year. Brandon and his wife, Cari, returned to the farm in 2012.
Today, they farm 19 irrigated circles, 2,500 acres of dryland and 2,000 acres of native grass. They have 550 spring-calving cows, of which 150 are registered Black Angus. They also operate a 1,500 head feedyard and grow corn, wheat, soybeans, milo, sunflowers, cotton, alfalfa, bermuda and feed.
They finish all their calves at home along with some calves they purchase from their bull customers. The calves are marketed through U.S. Premium Beef (USPB). They believe that if the beef industry is going to survive and be something besides a niche in the protein market, operating costs must be reduced in all sectors of the industry. Their mission is to deliver a desirable product to the consumer from which they can derive an acceptable standard of living. To do this, they are going to control or participate in as many practices as they can from solar interception to product delivery on the plate.
Seedstock Producer of the Year
The BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year award was won by Schuler Red Angus of Bridgeport, NE, owned by the Darrell Schuler family and managed by Butch Schuler.
Darrell and Mary Lou Schuler began raising commercial Herefords in the Nebraska Panhandle in 1959. By the 1970s, they were using Red Angus bulls and discovered that the crossbred calves were superior to the ranch’s traditional straight-bred cattle.
A registered Red Angus herd was started in 1976 to develop genetics for the ranch’s commercial herd and provide seedstock for neighboring ranches. The seedstock herd expanded in the 1980s and continued to improve through the use of artificial insemination, performance testing and a data-based breeding program utilizing EPDs.
Customer input and feedback from meat-packers regarding the ranch’s finished commercial cattle encouraged the Schuler’s to begin collecting carcass data in 1991. They later developed structured carcass tests utilizing their own and customer cattle. Today, more than 25% of Red Angus’ high-accuracy carcass trait sires have been proven by Schuler Red Angus.
A composite seedstock herd called “Schuler Reds” was started in 1992 which utilizes Red Angus, Simmental and Gelbvieh genetics, giving Schuler Red Angus customers the opportunity to add heterosis and breed complementarity via a simple crossbreeding system.
The current ranching operation encompasses 17,000 acres including 2,000 acres of private pasture leases and 1,250 acres of irrigated farm ground. Butch and Susan Schuler with their children Stephanie and David manage the operation of approximately 1,000 head of spring calving females.
Click here for more information on the BIF commercial and seedstock nominees.
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