Cattle Producers Predicted to See Profitable 2010

A weak U.S. dollar has encouraged investment in commodities, resulting in positive activity for agriculture, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist.

“With regards to index investments, they (investors) buy these as a hedge against inflation, and when you have investment dollars coming out of the closet, many are putting money into commodities and that’s good for agriculture,” said Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grain marketing economist.

A weak dollar allows foreign investors more purchasing power for U.S. products, and this has led to investment opportunities in commodities such as oil, which hit $78 a barrel recently. Index funds will also seek other commodities outside the energy sector, Welch said.

“This will also include agricultural commodities, which can lead to some positive activity for the agricultural industry as a whole,” said Welch, who recently discussed market implications at the 2009 Brock Faulkner Cattleman’s Clinic in Bryan.

This activity will affect the cattle market, Welch said. Coupled with declining numbers of cattle across the U.S., Welch said, beef producers can likely expect to see higher prices in 2010.

“We’re reducing numbers as a result of drought over the past two years, and that could put us in a very profitable situation in the future,” he said. “We slaughtered a lot of cows last year and this year, which has exceeded 2008 in some cases.”

Heifer retention rates have also been on the decline, down 2.2 percent compared to 2008 and the fewest in over 30 years, Welch said.

“We’re not going to have as big of a production beef plant (number of calves produced) in 2010 as we did this year,” he said. “When the economy increases and supports the demand, in general I think we can predict prices are going to increase next year, and especially going into 2011.”

Meanwhile, Welch said, grain demand could increase substantially in the coming months, coinciding with an economic turnaround and increased demand for energy.

Currently, more than 4 billion bushels of corn are being used for ethanol, and growth is expected to approach 5 billion. He said the nation’s corn crop is projected to be the second-largest on record. However, carryover stocks are going down as a result of the demand for corn from ethanol producers returning to profitability.

“What does that mean if we have a disruption in the corn supply?” Welch said. “We’re riding a razor's edge between supply and demand reflected in current price volatility.”

He said fertilizer prices may play a major role in how many corn acres are planted next year. Last April the national price for anhydrous ammonia averaged $680 a ton. Welch predicts $430 a ton in 2010, which is the cheapest price since 2005.

“Those are the kinds of prices we need to encourage lots of corn production,” he said.


Beef Industry Needs More Feed-Efficiency Data

Feed accounts for 65 percent to 80 percent of total beef-production costs. With grain prices at their highest levels ever, finding a way to lower those costs is important to cattle producers. Feed-management practices go only so far, however. A more promising tool for cattle producers is genetic selection for improved feed efficiency.

To help all cattle producers make better-informed selection decisions, Lauren Hyde, Ph.D., director of performance programs for the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF), encourages them to collect feed-efficiency data.

“A profitable beef industry will depend upon producing biologically and economically efficient cattle that produce high-quality meat products,” she said. “Several research studies have shown Limousin cattle excel in feed efficiency.”

For years, collecting data to understand feed efficiency was an expensive task. It required highly specialized equipment that was difficult, if not impossible, for beef producers to access. Technology now exists to make feed-efficiency data collection practical and widely available, Hyde noted.

One measure of feed efficiency is residual feed intake (RFI), which is the difference between actual and expected feed intakes. It is the net value (if any) that remains after an animal meets its requirements for maintenance and growth. When cattle consume less feed than expected, they have a negative RFI value, which indicates better-than-average feed efficiency.

Calculation of an animal’s RFI requires measuring its actual feed intake, average daily gain (ADG) and average metabolic weight, Hyde explained. A GrowSafe station measures animals for 70 days under a standard protocol that meets several organizations’ minimum guidelines. A GrowSafe system electronically monitors the feedbunk and records all cattle-feeding activity throughout the day.

A list of GrowSafe-equipped facilities is available via the “Genetic Evaluation” section of NALF’s Web site (

“For cattle producers who want proof of feed efficiency for the animals they are buying or selling, NALF recommends RFI testing,” Hyde said.

NALF plans to develop a genetic evaluation for feed efficiency after it collects enough RFI data, Hyde added. The organization will add a new expected progeny difference (EPD) to its current suite of traits, incorporate the data into additional selection indexes or combine it with DNA-marker data.

“No matter how we report the data, users of Limousin genetics will have the tools required to improve feed efficiency genetically,” she noted.


Angus Remains Industry Leader

The American Angus Association® remained at the top of the beef cattle industry in 2009, with the number of registrations far outpacing those of any other breed.

“Our year-end statistics continue to demonstrate strong demand for Angus genetics and solidify our long-held position as a leader in the beef cattle industry,” Bryce Schumann, American Angus Association CEO, said. “These results underscore our members’ commitment to providing genetic solutions to the beef cattle industry, and record-breaking sales for Certified Angus Beef® further substantiate Angus demand.”

Despite a sagging U.S. economy, 282,911 animals were registered during fiscal year 2009, which ended Sept. 30, 2009. Transfers — representing sales of cattle to new owners — reached 176,199, indicating continued demand for Angus genetics. Embryo transfers accounted for 11.3% of registrations, and more than 52% of registered calves were a result of A.I.

The number of members storing registrations electronically increased slightly during 2009, and breeders continued to utilize Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR®) and Beef Improvement Records (BIR). Breeders submitted a total of 845,633 weights, bringing the database to more than 16 million weight records.

Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) saw its third consecutive sales record in 2009, selling 663 million pounds, an increase of more than 24 million pounds, over last year. Approximately 14.1 million head were identified, and nearly 2.87 million head certified — an 8% increase over the previous year. Acceptance rates climbed to 19.8%.

AngusSource® — a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Process Verified Program (PVP) documenting age, source and Angus genetics — saw an 8.5% increase in enrollments this year. More than 122,700 head were enrolled in the program in FY 2009, bringing total enrollments to more than 390,000 head since the program was initiated as a PVP in 2005. The average size of enrolled lots increased as well, from 146 head to 161 head.

In addition, producers marketed 18.7% more cattle through AngusSource online cattle listings, available at

The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef organization, serving more than 30,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers.

For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit


CHB LLC Marketings Up, Reorganizes for More Growth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --- Despite a U.S. economic downturn and resulting depressed beef demand, Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) LLC experienced growth in the marketplace and added new team members to increase opportunities during fiscal year (FY) 2009.

CHB LLC packing partners National Beef Packing Co. LLC and Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. harvested 379,282 CHB-eligible cattle and certified 250,266 total carcasses during FY 2009. A total of 36,810,360 lb. was marketed as Certified Hereford Beef®, which is up 900,000 lb., or about 2.5% compared to last year.

American Hereford Association Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines says, “CHB LLC found ample opportunities for new business relationships and new growth in the program this year. A new management team led by beef marketing veteran Tom LeBeau has positioned CHB LLC for unique possibilities.”

In FY 2009, CHB LLC staff launched two large foodservice distributor companies across the eastern U.S. Sysco Food Service distributors and Merchants Foodservice began distributing CHB products in nine states, adding approximately 900 new sales people to the program.

These new distributors aided the program in establishing 29% more restaurant business, bringing total restaurant sales to more than 5.5 million lb.

In addition to growth in distribution channels, CHB LLC has been working on value-added concepts. A case-ready beef program was developed with Superior Farms, Boston, Mass. Also developed by CHB LLC staff along with Klement’s Co., Milwaukee, Wis., is an all-beef Chicago style hot dog. “The goal of this high-quality beef frank program is to utilize a higher percentage of carcass trimming, gaining a better carcass utilization, with the added bonus of a new profit center for CHB LLC,” Huffhines says.

Also during FY 2009, Hereford Verified (HV) saw an increase in marketings. HV is the AHA’s traceable program for Hereford-influenced calves that provides producer bonuses and data on cattle that meet CHB requirements. During the year, 15,940 head were certified and marketed through the program, up 30% from last year.


Vermeer Rolls Out New RancherTM 665 Baler

Vermeer rolls out a new heavy-built “right-sized” Rancher 665baler – designed for big bale performance, easy operation andsensible budgets.

The Rancher 665 baler combines smart design with Vermeer M-Series baler technology and can produce high-density round bales up to 66" in diameter (168 cm), 61" wide (155 cm), using smaller hp tractors. Maximum bale weight is 1,700 lbs/dry (771 kg). According to Vermeer Forage Marketing Manager Dan Belzer, the new Rancher 665 baler design fills a niche many cow-calf producers have been asking for – basically, the ability to produce bigger bales with a “right-sized” baler that requires less horsepower. “Now, with a minimum 60 hp tractor, every day cow-calf producers can roll up large-diameter bales, which they can easily move around with their medium-sized loaders. Also, because the Rancher 665 baler is 'right-priced', it’s very competitive with used late-model balers in the same class, which gives Rancher 665 baler owners the extra peace of mind of having new product warranty.”

Belzer adds, “the name depicts a no nonsense, tight fisted independent rugged individual similiar to how the Rancher 665 baler was designed.”

A state-of-the-art Bale Expert monitor provides instant baleforming information, control and operating conveniences right from the cab, including the option of real-time hay moisture reporting. Hi-resolution bale shape sensors, positioned on the outside belts, feed electronic bale-forming data to the monitor.

When the bale is finished, an optional netwrap system feeds net directly to the main belts. This eliminates the need for rubber feed rollers and feed belts, replacing them with a brake tension and friction feed system that (a) maximizes the number of bales per roll of net, (b) maintains tension on the wrap for a clean cut and positive grip when wrapping the next bale and (c) adjusts tension automatically, according to the size of netwrap roll. In addition, the operator can actually speed up the wrapping cycle by triggering the start of the wrap function, even as the bale is completing its final rotation within the chamber. The Rancher 665 baler handles both standard and over-width net.

The Rancher 665 baler is ruggedly built. It comes with a robust 5-bar pickup. Heavy-duty steel drive rollers help maintain belt tension. Hardened belt guides keep belts in line. A single hydraulic control is used to adjust bale density. Clean, separated belt design reduces potential buildup. Drop ‘n Go Bale Ejection eliminates the need to disengage and re-engage the PTO when dropping a bale. A robust, single arm center-pivot, electric twine-tie system (standard), with dual feed, is easy to thread, maintain and monitor.

Upper drive, lower drive and starter rollers are built “through the wall” for added strength, durability and ease of maintenance. Heavy-duty shaft/bearing combinations extend wear-ability and chain/sprocket life; and they’re easy to replace and maintain. Additional features include optional spring-loaded bale ramp, 6-ball twine storage, standard highway light assembly and optional work lights. Minimum tractor horsepower is 60 hp (48 kW) (75 hp (56 kW) is recommended). Hydraulic requirements: one pair of auxiliary remote outlets; 2000 psi, 10 gpm flow; and 12 VDC power source (30AMP).


Making stronger, directed breeding decisions for a successful future

Oak Creek Farms looks to GeneSTAR MVPs to help take the industry lead

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (September 19, 2009)—Selecting and identifying feed efficient bulls with favorable carcass traits for tenderness and marbling are key components for registered Brangus breeders John and Carolyn Kopycinski of Oak Creek Farms in Chappell Hill, Texas. Oak Creek Farms is home to approximately 700 head of elite registered Brangus, Red Brangus, Red Angus and Angus cattle. To continually improve their herd and make the most educated breeding and culling decisions, the Kopycinskis have incorporated GeneSTAR® MVPTM DNA-marker test results.

“Our goal is to raise cattle that produce tender, juicy beef that people enjoy eating,” says John Kopycinski, owner of Oak Creek Farms. “I believe that genomics and DNA testing will help us achieve the genetics we need to produce the highest-quality meat for consumers. We use the GeneSTAR MVP test results alongside other available information to select the ideal bulls and cows each year and achieve a higher-standard beef product.” He also states that there needs to be a strong balance between these three core traits—feed efficiency, marbling and tenderness. An animal that excels in only one of these areas won’t last on his ranch, so the balance is critical.

Breeding for balance

Kopycinski says that he produces medium-framed, well-balanced, easy-fleshing cattle that have to be heat tolerant. In south central Texas, cattle experience extreme heat and humidity, which means Oak Creek’s cattle must be able to thrive in these conditions. Cows must also have good udder composition and be fertile in order to stay in the herd. They must calve every year without problems and be able to raise the calf in the pasture on forages without supplements. Kopycinski culls about 25 percent of his herd each year to constantly improve genetics.

GeneSTAR MVPs allow producers like John to speed genetic progress in a shorter time period. GeneSTAR MVPs are calculated using a 56-marker panel for the traits feed efficiency, marbling and tenderness. Test results provide information on individual animal genotypes, allowing breeders to make more precise breeding and management decisions.

Annual Bull Sale features MVP-tested animals

Oak Creek Farms has their annual Forage Tested Registered Bull Sale each October that attracts buyers from across the nation. At the 2009 sale, GeneSTAR MVP results will be available to potential buyers at and in the catalog on sale day. “Each year our customers become more interested in DNA testing results. Buyers will be able to use the information to select bulls that will best fit their individual ranch program,” explains Kopycinski.

GeneSTAR MVP results are available for all of the bulls offered in the farm’s sale this fall. Within the next year Kopycinski hopes to test all animals—including elite heifers and cows in the herd—to help make more-informed selection decisions earlier in the animal’s life. Test results from herd bulls are especially important in make breeding decisions.

The annual Oak Creek Farms Forage Tested Registered Bull Sale will take place on Saturday, October 24th, 2009. They will sell 160 registered Oak Creek Farm bulls which include 95 Brangus, 40 Red Brangus, 15 Angus and 10 Red Angus. Immediately following the bull sale, 250 commercial heifers consigned by Oak Creek’s bull customers will be sold.

On Friday, October 23rd, the cattle will be available for viewing all day with a Parade of Bulls at 12:30 p.m., followed by the presale seminar at 5:30 p.m. The seminar will feature Dr. Kent Andersen, associate director, technical services – North America and Kevin Milliner, regional sales manager, both of Pfizer Animal Genetics. They will be presenting a program on the latest DNA technology and the importance of DNA profiling for cattlemen. Pfizer Animal Genetics is committed to helping beef producers understand how to use the MVP reporting system to make purchasing decisions, as well as management and breeding decisions. Following the presentations a dinner will be provided, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Genetics.

The future of Genomics at Oak Creek

Oak Creek Farms has been breeding Brangus and Red Brangus since 1967, but the Kopycinski family has been in agriculture for more than 100 years. Kopycinski believes the demand for MVP results will continue to grow in the beef industry. As new DNA markers are discovered, more markers will be released to further evaluate cattle and the meat they produce.

“This isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, but we keep taking small steps in the right direction,” says Kopycinski. “One day, DNA testing will be in the forefront of the beef industry and Oak Creek Farms wants to be there, too.”

Kopycinski says he is excited about where Pfizer Animal Genetics is heading, sharing that he believes that they are a strong company with good people that will help keep the U.S. on the cutting-edge of DNA-marker technology while helping beef producers provide consumers with a consistently tender, flavorful product.

For more information about Oak Creek Farms and the upcoming bull sale, please visit or contact John Kopycinski at (979) 836-6832.

Pfizer Animal Genetics is a business unit of Pfizer Animal Health, a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines. Pfizer Inc. is the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company.

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Association to Run Weekly Carcass Evaluation

Updated carcass trait EPDs online, scheduled for weekly release.

The American Angus Association® has issued its first release of genomic-enhanced EPDs for multiple carcass traits, now available at through AAA Login or EPD/Pedigree lookup.

In an industry first, the updated National Cattle Evaluation (NCE) carcass trait EPDs are scheduled for weekly release and incorporate available breed-specific DNA profile results from the IGENITY® Profile for Angus in addition to all pedigree and performance information.

Through the use of new technologies, Angus NCE EPDs can be provided across the complete performance database for carcass traits, encompassing nearly 2 million animals. Genomic, carcass and ultrasound databases can be used to calculate NCE EPDs each week for Angus breeders and industry allies.

The process bypasses the need for interim procedures on animals with genomic profile results and speeds the information exchange for newly arriving ultrasound and carcass data received at the Association.

Visit to access the NCE genomic-enhanced EPDs for carcass traits. For more information call the Association at 816-383-5100 or e-mail


Maddux Named Nation’s Top Rancher

DENVER (Oct. 19, 2009) - Jack Maddux of Wauneta, Neb., received the 32nd annual National Golden Spur Award on Saturday from the Ranching Heritage Association in Lubbock, TX. The award was given in recognition of his contributions to the livestock and ranching industries and his contributions to improving the land and natural resources.

Each year, the National Golden Spur Award recognizes the lifetime achievements of the nation’s top rancher. This unique award, the only national distinction of its kind, recognizes outstanding contributions to the ranching and livestock industry. More than bringing prestige to an individual, the award spotlights the humanistic and scientific contributions of the livestock and ranching industries. Maddux was nominated for the National Golden Spur Award by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, based in Centennial, Colo.

Maddux is a fourth-generation rancher and manager of the Maddux Cattle Company. In addition to a 3,000-head feedyard, Maddux Cattle Company encompasses a 2,500-head cow-calf operation on some 40,000 acres of deeded and leased land in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

The Maddux breeding program uses a composite of Red Angus, Tarentaise and South Devon breeds. The calves are finished in the Maddux feedlot along with purchased background calves. The Maddux program was one of the first to adopt a multi-cell rest-rotation grazing management system, cross fencing and no-till corn production.

Raised on the ranch, Maddux earned a B.S. degree from Colorado State University in 1953 and served a tour of duty as an Air Force pilot. He and his wife, Carol, have three grown children and seven grandchildren. Maddux has used his knowledge to improve the family ranch, which was homesteaded in 1886.

“As an outstanding Nebraska cattle rancher, Jack’s management techniques have been sought by many organizations and people in the industry, both in the United States and in other countries,” said Robert D. Josserand, chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. “Jack has also served the industry with a most effective leadership style that gets things done.”

Actively involved with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Maddux has traveled extensively in the interest of bringing better management and financial planning to the industry. He was the first honoree to be named Cattle Businessman of the Year by the Association in 1984 and served as the first treasurer of NCBA. He is a trustee of the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

Maddux has also held leadership roles on the Nebraska Stock Growers Association and the Society for Range Management. He is listed in the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement and received the Nebraska Ag Builder Award. He is a past chairman of the board of the University of Nebraska Foundation, and he was named Cattleman of the Year in 2002 by Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. In 2004, he was recognized as Livestock Leader of the Year by Colorado State University. Maddux and his wife were honored for excellence in the management of Nebraska rangeland by the Nebraska Society for Range Management.

The National Golden Spur Award is sponsored by some of the industry’s leading organizations, among them the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, Ranching Heritage Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and Texas Farm Bureau.

The National Cattlemen's Foundation advances the future of the beef industry with passion and urgency.


Limousin Exchange Offers Online Marketplace for Feeder Calves, Females, Bulls

Those in search of a convenient, online marketplace for Limousin and Lim-Flex® feeder calves, females and bulls need look no further than the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) home page (

As the fall feeder-cattle run gets underway, breeders and their commercial customers are marketing Limousin-influenced calves through the Limousin Exchange Feeder Calf Classifieds. Potential buyers can browse all of the cattle for sale or use the search feature to narrow the listings.

“If you have Limousin-influenced calves for sale, put the Feeder Calf Classifieds to work for you,” said Frank Padilla, NALF’s director of member and commercial relations. “Do not settle for just local buyer exposure when you can reach hundreds of interested feeder-calf buyers across the nation free of charge.”

“Whether you consign calves to the auction market or video auction or sell them via private treaty, the Limousin Exchange is an easy way to ensure every bidder possible competes for them,” Padilla added.

Prospective buyers also can use the Limousin Exchange Females for Sale and Bull Listing Service components to search, sort and select females and bulls by state, owner, percent Limousin blood, expected progeny differences (EPDs) and many other criteria.

For assistance in finding animals with or adding them to the Limousin Exchange, contact Padilla at or (303) 220-1693, Ext. 123.

Don't Let A Bad Attitude Make You Miss Out

I hate to admit it, but negativity is easy. Just stop in at the local café and or feed store, and the odds are that you’ll hear discussions about high costs, low prices, meddlesome government, etc. In fact, I find myself writing more about the negatives than the positives, and Lord knows it’s a lot easier to shoot down an idea than come up with a great idea of your own.

Still, every now and again, I find it helpful to take a step back. The reality isn’t nearly as bad as the situation we keep talking about. According to most experts, the recession has bottomed out. The stock market has been rallying, corporate profits are increasing, and the jobs will ultimately follow. Thus, beef demand has likely bottomed out as well and should be improving, and at a time where numbers are historically tight. In addition, input costs have moderated and world demand for protein is expected to double – yes, double in the next 40 years.

Don't get me wrong, a little fear is justified. We’re in a hyper-competitive marketplace, and consolidation is occurring. Thus, we have to be one of the best (via efficiency, quality or both) if we are going to be profitable. But if you focus on the doom and gloom, you’re also missing half the story. We as individuals and as an industry have an opportunity to usher in a time of untold prosperity.

Ranching is changing, but those changes can bring about not only a great lifestyle that would be the envy of most people, but untold prosperity for producers. And, we need to ensure that we focus on the bright future ahead as well as the challenges.

Both hope and challenge can be motivating – it’s the age-old relationship between incentives and penalties (the carrot and the whip). At times, it may be necessary to focus on the challenges, but we need to focus on the rewards, as well. I can be motivated to make money to avoid foreclosure, but I'm even more motivated to make money to give my wife that house on the hill with a covered porch as long as a football field.

Today, I can make a pretty convincing case for surviving hard times, or preparing for the prosperous times ahead. But I'm convinced that individual entities and industries more often than not move forward through bold actions born out of optimism.

Ignoring problems doesn't benefit anyone. Still what we need to talk about is new hope and new solutions, and they are plentiful! Focusing on problems is fine as long as you focus on the solutions as well; probably the ideal ratio would be 1:8 or higher. Define the problem and then focus on the solution.

Perspective may be the most powerful thing in the world, and I'm betting on this industry and its future.