ASA

Hitting the Target

By Greg Henderson    |   

Improved genetics, management and attention to detail, some of which began a generation ago, are paying dividends for America’s cattlemen. Those changes give today’s consumer more beef products they desire, and reward stakeholders in every industry segment.

Advancements in genetics and management are most evident in the significant improvement to the quality grades of cattle offered for harvest. Last month USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reported the percentage of cattle grading Prime and Choice for the week ending Jan. 7, was a whisker shy of 79%. That’s the highest percent Choice and Prime ever.

Additionally, the Choice-Select spread is consistently higher, says CattleFax analyst Lance Zimmerman.

“The Choice-Select spread has been relatively consistent in the $8 to $9 per cwt range,” he says. “We see steeper discounts for an animal that can’t grade Choice, and the Prime versus no roll spread is $420 per animal.”

Efforts to improve beef quality began with the landmark 1991 National Beef Quality Audit. That study involved producers, packers, processors, retailers and consumers, identifying the quality defects and missed opportunities at the root of diminishing demand. That audit famously found $280 per carcass in lost value (using market prices at the time), with $200 of loss due to excessive fat. Yet, while the industry needed to eliminate waste fat, there was a clear signal more taste fat (marbling) was desired.

Subsequent quality audits revealed the industry made progress in the 1990s and early 2000s, reducing bruises, injection site blemishes and other management-correctable defects. A greater emphasis on genetics was also underway, but quality grade concerns remained. Over the past decade, however, that has changed.

“Beginning in 2007, the industry saw annual advances, with the exception of 2012, in the percentage of fed cattle carcasses grading Choice,” says Paul Dykstra, beef cattle specialist with Certified Angus Beef LLC. “The 2006 average of 51.7% Choice remarkably improved to a 2015 average of 69.1%.”

Dykstra recently published a white paper, “Why Quality Grades are Improving,” which examines the trend, its causes and implications. Along with gains in the Choice category, Dykstra notes the percentage of Prime carcasses—locked in the 2% to 3.5% range for years—“jumped to 4.2% in 2014 and 5.1%” in 2015.

“People may recall hearing about higher quality grades several decades ago, but in the 1970s and '80s many carcasses were not offered for USDA grading,” Dykstra says. “Today’s U.S. cattle herd is producing the largest amount of high-quality beef ever.”

Dykstra says a shortage of high-quality beef was prevalent a decade ago, with the share of Choice carcasses often dropping below 50%. “That led to market incentives, fueling the turnaround in grade. The 2015 average of 69.1% Choice was a 17.3-percentage-point improvement in annual grading since then."

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The Problem:  

Imagine you had to find bulls for your operation but you didn’t know any breeders, nobody used EPDs, or even shared actual data. It’s obvious to anyone interested in building quality cattle and maximizing profit this would be a major blow to the bottom line.

Yet, this is how the feeder calf business exists today. Frequently, when purchasing quality feeder calves, we can receive crucial information regarding environmental factors such as management and health protocols, weights, etc. However, when it comes to genetic awareness, color and polled status are often asked to substitute for true knowledge. A common scenario, and at times the best-case scenario, is that the calf buyer has a previous relationship with the seller and has owned and experienced the performance of the seller’s calves before. In more rare cases, we may have some information on the seller’s bull purchases. Again, this is a powerful step forward. It provides at least some insight into a portion of the genetics within the program.  However, in a data-driven world, this level of genetic awareness is woefully inadequate.  Especially since the financial stakes for feeder calf procurement are even higher than the stakes for bull procurement. Understandably, most large cattle buyers have technology to estimate genetic and environmental performance on feeder cattle but that information is not public and, for obvious reasons, is kept to those companies. Therefore, price discovery as we know it today, most often does not take account the actual performance potential of a producer’s feeder cattle.

The Solution:

Attempts to determine relative value of feeder cattle have been made for a long-time; however, certain issues have made it difficult.  The foremost limitation has been accurately gauging the profit potential in the largest genetic group within the beef industry — the crossbred calf. It is a known scientific fact that commercial beef producers wishing to maximize cowherd fertility and longevity must crossbreed. This not only provides them a sustainable and profitable cow base, but fortunately generates an end product that is known to be the best combination of growth potential and carcass merit — the crossbred calf.  The history of the Feeder Profit Calculator (FPC) has its roots in ASA’s Terminal Index ($TI). The $TI was developed over a decade ago by ASA in collaboration with Dr. Michael MacNeil, who was a USDA research geneticist at the time. The $TI is an economic selection index designed for selecting terminal sires.  Though $TI could do a reasonable job valuing feeder calves, it was determined that evolving $TI into a tool that could account for such things as a current accounting of prices/costs, heterosis, and non-genetic factors (e.g., vaccination status), would improve the accuracy of predicting feeder calf values. Dr. MacNeil, now with Delta G Genetics, was tapped to evolve $TI into that tool — the FPC. Many of the FPC’s non-genetic components were sourced by Dr. David Lalman of Oklahoma State University.  Providing the most robust genetic awareness of crossbred calves requires the most robust multi-breed genetic evaluation.  Fortunately, International Genetic Solutions (IGS) provides the ideal platform to generate unparalleled information on crossbred and composite feeder calves. IGS, along with its’ member associations, the science team at Theta Solutions, and scientific contributions by Dr. Matt Spangler of the University of Nebraska is ideally suited to provide the industry’s benchmark in gauging feeder calf value. The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator empowers producers to market with confidence and allows feeders to maximize their purchasing dollars.

The Future:  

Capitalizing on novel technology usually requires a tremendous learning curve and a major outlay of dollars.  Not this time! The IGS Feeder Profit Calculator is unique. It will offer a level of genetic awareness of crossbred feeder calves that has not been previously possible in the beef business.  The IGS science team, the IGS partner associations, and the world’s largest beef genetic evaluation database allows the IGS FPC to be delivered at no cost to producers. That is correct. No Cost!

Beef producers looking for a transparent and straightforward assessment of their calves will harness the power of IGS by simply making a call, sending an email, or visiting the IGS website.  IGS and/or breed association personnel will request information on herd health, basic management protocols, the bull battery used in previous years, and insight into the makeup of the cowherd. The more thorough the inputs from the producer, the better the predictive ability of the FPC.  While individual sire identification isn’t required, identification of the bulls used in the operation is required.  Producers will be asked to share preconditioning information and the health program in place.  The IGS FPC will be demonstrated at the 2017 NCBA Convention in Nashville, TN, and be made available to the public shortly thereafter. Three short demos will be held at the IGS booth each day of the convention.  For producers who have interest in having their calves evaluated through the IGS FPC please contact one of the IGS breed partners or contact beef@internationalgeneticsolutions.  com. Cattle feeders who are interested in integrating the capabilities of the IGS FPC into their purchasing decisions please use the same email. Additional information and highlights will be provided in the coming months.

 Article written by Will Townsend and Chip Kemp

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2017 Golden Book Recipients

Jim Berry, Scales Mound, Illinois

An advocate for Simmental genetics since 1983, Jim Berry has maintained an on-going emphasis on collection of data in his pursuit of beef cattle performance. Weights are recorded and reported on all cattle at birth, weaning as yearlings. He also collects weights on his cows each year. In addition, he was among the earliest proponents of ultrasound technology as a tool for making advances in carcass quality. Early on, Berry recognized the significance of the development of composite cattle to improve performance and longevity. His Wildberry Farms, located in the rocky, hill region of the northwest corner of Illinois, has been a destination for countless international and domestic tour groups. An accomplished speaker, he has willingly extolled the virtues of Simmental cattle to visitors from agriculture, education and curious city dwellers. Berry was born in northern Illinois where his family started out in the dairy business, later moving to central South Dakota and switching to commercial Angus. As a young man, Berry returned to Illinois when he enrolled at Northwestern University in Evanston. After graduation, he elected to stay in the Chicago area and joined the Chicago Board of Trade in 1966, remaining there until retirement in 1997.

From 1973, when he purchased a small farm, his “day job” required a 110-mile commuter train round trip each day between the farm where the Berry family lived and his work at the Board of Trade. “But, I was very happy with that arrangement,” he said. Deeply involved in agricultural organizations, he served two terms on the Board of the Illinois Beef Association; has been active in several levels of the Farm Bureau; was a member of the Chicago Farmers Club; and was named Breeder-of-the-Year by the Illinois Simmental Association in 2011. In 2013, out of respect for his good friend, Dr. Bob Walton, former CEO of American Breeders Service, (now simply “ABS”) he funded the Walton-Berry Graduate Student Support Grant, which pays tribute to Walton’s lifelong efforts in animal breeding and devotion to Simmental cattle. The Walton-Berry grant is earmarked in support of graduate education in research programs to improve applied livestock genetics. Berry and his wife, Ann, are the parents of three grown children: Robert, Christine and Elizabeth.

 

Dr. Calvin Drake Manhattan, Kansas

A profound belief in the science of cattle production has marked the long career of Calvin Drake, Ph.D. A native of Kansas, Drake was an early proponent of Simmental genetics, producing his first halfblood calves in the late 1960s. He promptly joined the fledgling American Simmental Association receiving membership 643, and has been an avid promoter and progressive breeder ever since. Drake’s education and broad-based career revolved around his relationship with Kansas State University (KSU). After earning his B.S. degree at KSU and serving a two-year hitch in the US Army, he then enrolled at the University of Arkansas, where he picked up his Master’s degree, followed by his Ph.D. from KSU. In 1963, he was hired at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech University) where he taught beef science and coached the livestock judging team. Four years later, Drake returned to KSU, where he also taught beef science, coached the judging team and added management of the beef cattle research unit to his job description. His 1967 judging team won the national championship. By 1971, he had departed from KSU to manage three commercial feedlots. After eight years, he returned to KSU as Executive Director of the Livestock and Meat Industry Council. He again coached the judging team, winning a second National Championship before retiring in 1999. In 2010, Drake was elected to the ASA Board of Trustees, serving two three-year terms. His tenure on the Board was highlighted by three years on the Executive Committee and four years as chairman of the Breed Improvement Committee. During that time, the committee was an essential factor in the formation of International Genetics Solutions (IGS) and its eventual status as the largest genetic evaluation system in the beef industry. His background as judging team coach, university teacher and researcher, and manager of commercial feedlots brought a unique and varied experience to the Board. As a Simmental breeder, he frequently consigned bulls to the Kansas Bull Test, and in 2003, was one of six breeders who joined forces to form the Gold Bullion Group, which holds an annual sale. Active in his community, he’s been involved in the Methodist Church and as an advisor to FarmHouse Fraternity at KSU which he joined as an undergraduate student. He is widely known and respected within the livestock industry in Kansas and much of the nation.

Bill and Jane Travis of Pine Ridge Ranch, Athens, Texas

After a number of years as commercial cattle breeders, Bill and Jane Travis of Pine Ridge Ranch (PRR) sat down one day and outlined a specification for producing the most heat-tolerant, efficient, high-quality carcass and tender beef. Their list contained 35 characteristics identified as “opportunity loss” such as horns. In 1981, frustrated by their inability to find any animals that met their rigid specifications, they determined to create their own specified cattle and settled on a pathway of crossbreeding registered Brahman and Simmental.

 As a result, PRR, located at Athens, Texas, currently maintains a herd of 750 registered Simbrah cattle within its 1,000 acres.     They were first exposed to Simmental genetics when two bulls were purchased from a Kansas breeder in 1977. In 1983 they joined the American Simmental Association and enthusiastically embraced a role as registered, seedstock producers.    Since that time, they have stayed true to their original vision to develop a Simbrah herd for an exceptionally tender, healthy beef for the consumer. The PRR goal is to produce a 1,350-1,450 pound steer at 14-16 months without use of growth promotants. Because their cattle tend to marble later, they do not gain excess backfat. The PRR program has proudly, consistently produced tender carcasses grading at 85% Choice with no Yield Grade 4s or 5s. Strong support of ASA and the beef industry have been hallmarks of the Travis legacy. They have participated in numerous events and have thrown their support behind research and development along with youth programs. Bill has served as ASA’s representative to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and together, they have been intimately involved in the World Simmental-Fleckvieh Federation and numerous international events. Jane holds a BA degree from Southern Methodist University, while Bill obtained a B.S. degree in engineering from the University of Texas, and later an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Bill and Jane, whose primary residence is in Dallas, roughly 60 miles northwest of the ranch, have been married for 58 years and are the parents of four children: Toby Lynn Travis, Karen Zachary, Diane Jolley, and Bryan Travis.

 

The World Simmental-Fleckvieh Federation (WSFF) Golden Book Award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the development of the Simmental/Simbrah breeds.

Written by: Erika Kenner       |      

Every rancher and farmer loves the idea of handing down the operation to the next generation, until it actually happens! Sometimes it can be hard for the older generation to let go of the reins and let the younger generation take over. Many times it’s a work in progress and helps when both generations can work together awhile during the process. Most of the time, the next generation wants to take the operation in another direction and this can be scary for the ones turning it over. This is the case for the 2016 Promoter of the Year! Each time another generation has come to the Keller Broken Heart Ranch, they have changed the direction a little bit.

Dwight & his father, Eugene Keller, started their seedstock operation in 1982 south of Mandan, ND. Eugene only had dairy on the place until Dwight came back to the farm. Dwight wanted to be in the beef business, so after obtaining a loan, he purchased 30 beef cows and his dad did the same. They started with Simmental bulls on Hereford and Angus cows, and have grown and developed over the years to an offering of 100 bulls and 80 open heifers selling annually, with 2017 being their 20 th annual production sale.

Dwight had been in livestock judging growing up and then as a coach in graduate school and had formed a good impression of Simmental cattle from what he had seen while judging. He was looking for a breed that would offer both maternal and terminal qualities and he felt the Simmental did it better than any other continental breed.

They started incorporating artificial insemination in the program in 1984, but they also pay top dollar for cleanup bulls and go wherever the genetics happen to be.  They always put their money into bulls and didn’t buy any females. They figured that would give them more money to spend on the bulls they needed.  Dwight says he could not have done all that he has without the support and help from his wife, Dr. Susan Keller. Dr. Keller is the current ND State Veterinarian and has been the Keller’s personal veterinarian all along. In addition, she also helped Dwight since the beginning with all the record keeping and mailing lists.

Now the next generation is starting to take the reins. Luke and Jake Keller are on the ranch and have tried to incorporate their ideas. Luke worked for American Simmental Association for a few years and when he came home, he had some new things he wanted to try. Luke always likes to think out of the box and is willing to try something different. He especially has been excited about implementing the new technology available, especially DNA. Dwight and Susan have pulled back the reins occasionally, but for the most part, they have let the boys have some rein.

Luke made many contacts working for ASA and had the opportunity to see many feedlots firsthand. This prompted him to suggest marketing their calves through a feedlot directly instead of a local sale barn. They have been able to get their data back on their calves so they know first hand how their genetics work. This has prompted them to select genetics differently. They still focus on performance and maternal, but they also pay close attention to calving ease and carcass traits.  Embryo transfer was also implemented this year, which is where having a veterinarian in the family comes in handy! Susan has done all the implanting herself so they are able to do everything on the farm.

In 2016, the Keller’s were a stop on the ND Stockman’s All Breeds Cattle Tour. Luke was elected chairman of the All Breeds Cattle Tour committee and worked hard to promote the tour and his own operation.  Dwight was a member of the NDSA Board of Directors for 2 terms in the past. When he was on the board, they had to deal with several tough issues and Dwight said it wasn’t always easy, but he took the responsibility seriously. Luke was also a member of the ND Simmental Board of Directors for 2 terms and was always willing to help with every project and would go above and beyond what was expected to assist the members.

Luke has also started his own consulting business and works hard to know his customers needs to help them buy the cattle that will work the best for them.  Jake stays home on the ranch and is perfectly content with focusing on the day-to-day operations. Their sister Tessa is still in college, but when she is home, she is also very involved in everything going on at the ranch. She is working on an Agriculture Communication degree and may be able to assist with their advertising in the future!

Handing over the reins and working together in a family operation sometimes has challenges, but in the end is very rewarding. The North Dakota Simmental Association is proud of the accomplishments of the Keller’s through the years and appreciates the promotion they do for the Simmental breed. It is great to see it will continue for years to come.

The North Dakota Simmental Association presented the 2016 Promoter of the Year award to the Keller Broken Heart Ranch and Luke Keller on Friday, December 9, at the ND Simmental Association banquet in Bismarck.

 

 

 

 

 

By Drs. Jackie Atkins, Lauren Hyde, and Wade Shafer

It’s here! The Spring 2017 evaluation includes a multi-breed Stay EPD using the much anticipated new genetic evaluation software, dubbed BOLT (Biometric Open Language Tools). The Stay EPD uses a random regression approach to predict stayability developed by Dr. Janusz Jamrozik and colleagues from the University of Guelph and the Canadian Simmental Association. Dr. Scott Speidel at Colorado State University, Dr. Bruce Golden (Theta Solutions), and the genetics team at International Genetic Solutions (IGS) (Lauren Hyde, Wade Shafer, Mahdi Saatchi, and Steve McGuire) worked together to incorporate the new methodology into the IGS evaluation. The new stayability evaluation includes data on animals of varying breed composition, directly incorporates genomic data, produces true accuracy values and provides Stay EPDs to all IGS partners on a common base. 

Features of the Multi-breed stayability with BOLT:

            1) Multi-breed stayability. As mentioned, the new Stay EPD is calculated for all cattle in the database (not just for purebred and fullblood Simmental, as it was in past evaluations). The calculation of EPDs in this fashion required the new evaluation to account for heterosis, which can be sizable for a trait like stayability.  Because stayability has a major impact on profit, having Stay EPDs on all cattle will substantially improve the ability of the All Purpose Index to predict differences in profit on hybrid and cattle of other breeds. 

            2) Direct incorporation of genomic data.  This evaluation represents the first time "Single Step" methodology has been used in the beef industry on a large database.  The innovative approach refers to DNA marker results being incorporated directly into the genetic evaluation, rather than being incorporated post evaluation or as a correlated trait.  Single Step is widely accepted as the most powerful means of leveraging DNA for genetic prediction.  The use of a Single Step approach on a large database (the largest in the beef industry) was made possible through the use of BOLT, ASA's revolutionary new software developed by researchers Dorian Garrick and Bruce Golden through Operation Quantum Leap.

            3) More "accurate" prediction of accuracy.  Prior to BOLT, the calculation of EPD accuracy was relegated to using indirect methods that were very imprecise, which commonly resulted in calculated accuracies being a poor estimate of the EPD's true accuracy, i.e., an EPD assigned a high accuracy may have truly been a low accuracy EPD and vice versa.  Until the development of BOLT, the direct calculation of accuracy was thought to be impossible on a large database due to computational limitations.  By leveraging statistical methodology unique to genetic evaluation and cutting-edge computer programming, BOLT calculates accuracy directly, thereby making it a much more "accurate" estimate of true accuracy.

Because the indirect methods used prior to BOLT tended to overestimate accuracy, you will notice that the accuracies associated with our new Stay EPDs will tend to be lower than the accuracies calculated in the prior evaluation of stayability. This does not mean that we are predicting stayability less accurately than we did in our previous evaluation--in fact, due to BOLT's ability to leverage phenotypes and genotypes more effectively we are actually predicting stayability with considerably more accuracy--it does mean that the published accuracy is now a better gauge of how much confidence you should have in an EPD. This fact will help seedstock and commercial producers better manage selection risk.

            4) Change in base.  Breeders will see significant movement in Stay EPDs from previous evaluations, not only because of improvements in methodology, but also because of a change in base.  However, changing the base does not affect the ranking of cattle; it simply shifts all EPDs up or down by the same increment.  For a point of reference, in the prior evaluation 21 was the average Stay EPD on purebred animals born over the last 2 years, w

Written by: Erika Kenner

Every rancher and farmer loves the idea of handing down the operation to the next generation, until it actually happens! Sometimes it can be hard for the older generation to let go of the reins and let the younger generation take over. Many times it’s a work in progress and helps when both generations can work together awhile during the process. Most of the time, the next generation wants to take the operation in another direction and this can be scary for the ones turning it over. This is the case for the 2016 Promoter of the Year! Each time another generation has come to the Keller Broken Heart Ranch, they have changed the direction a little bit.

Dwight & his father, Eugene Keller, started their seedstock operation in 1982 south of Mandan, ND. Eugene only had dairy on the place until Dwight came back to the farm. Dwight wanted to be in the beef business, so after obtaining a loan, he purchased 30 beef cows and his dad did the same. They started with Simmental bulls on Hereford and Angus cows, and have grown and developed over the years to an offering of 100 bulls and 80 open heifers selling annually, with 2017 being their 20 th annual production sale.

Dwight had been in livestock judging growing up and then as a coach in graduate school and had formed a good impression of Simmental cattle from what he had seen while judging. He was looking for a breed that would offer both maternal and terminal qualities and he felt the Simmental did it better than any other continental breed.

They started incorporating artificial insemination in the program in 1984, but they also pay top dollar for cleanup bulls and go wherever the genetics happen to be.  They always put their money into bulls and didn’t buy any females. They figured that would give them more money to spend on the bulls they needed.

Dwight says he could not have done all that he has without the support and help from his wife, Dr. Susan Keller. Dr. Keller is the current ND State Veterinarian and has been the Keller’s personal veterinarian all along. In addition, she also helped Dwight since the beginning with all the record keeping and mailing lists.

Now the next generation is starting to take the reins. Luke and Jake Keller are on the ranch and have tried to incorporate their ideas. Luke worked for American Simmental Association for a few years and when he came home, he had some new things he wanted to try. Luke always likes to think out of the box and is willing to try something different. He especially has been excited about implementing the new technology available, especially DNA. Dwight and Susan have pulled back the reins occasionally, but for the most part, they have let the boys have some rein.

Luke made many contacts working for ASA and had the opportunity to see many feedlots firsthand. This prompted him to suggest marketing their calves through a feedlot directly instead of a local sale barn. They have been able to get their data back on their calves so they know first hand how their genetics work. This has prompted them to select genetics differently. They still focus on performance and maternal, but they also pay close attention to calving ease and carcass traits.

Embryo transfer was also implemented this year, which is where having a veterinarian in the family comes in handy! Susan has done all the implanting herself so they are able to do everything on the farm.

In 2016, the Keller’s were a stop on the ND Stockman’s All Breeds Cattle Tour. Luke was elected chairman of the All Breeds Cattle Tour committee and worked hard to promote the tour and his own operation.

Dwight was a member of the NDSA Board of Directors for 2 terms in the past. When he was on the board, they had to deal with several tough issues and Dwight said it wasn’t always easy, but he took the responsibility seriously. Luke was also a member of the ND Simmental Board of Directors for 2 terms and was always willing to help with every project and would go above and beyond what was expected to assist the members.

Luke has also started his own consulting business and works hard to know his customers needs to help them buy the cattle that will work the best for them.  Jake stays home on the ranch and is perfectly content with focusing on the day-to-day operations. Their sister Tessa is still in college, but when she is home, she is also very involved in everything going on at the ranch. She is working on an Agriculture Communication degree and may be able to assist with their advertising in the future!

Handing over the reins and working together in a family operation sometimes has challenges, but in the end is very rewarding. The North Dakota Simmental Association is proud of the accomplishments of the Keller’s through the years and appreciates the promotion they do for the Simmental breed. It is great to see it will continue for years to come.

The North Dakota Simmental Association presented the 2016 Promoter of the Year award to the Keller Broken Heart Ranch and Luke Keller on Friday, December 9, at the ND Simmental Association banquet in Bismarck.

 

Stuck on SimAngus Genetics

A Montana commercial operation transitions to producing high performance SimAngusTM seedstock bulls.        |      

By Emme Troendle        |

“SimAngus, Simmental and Angus breeds have always been the top of our list because of the quality of the breeds,” commends Will Townsend of Townsend Ranch LLC, “We have used traces of other breeds in the past, but when it came down to it, the trends weren’t as good as Simmental, Angus, and SimAngus.”

The Townsend Ranch, located outside of White Sulphur Springs, Montana, is situated with the rugged Big Belt Mountain Range and famous Smith River as a backdrop to their productive ranch and farmland. Townsend continues, “If you look at the $API (All Purpose Index) and $TI (Terminal Index) trends for SimAngus cattle, they have increased continuously, but that isn’t the case for all breeds.”

Townsend is the third generation to ranch in White Sulfur Springs, where they run a 1,500 head operation that is in the midst of changing from a commercial cow-calf pair to seedstock bull production. “We have been improving genetics for a long-time, so we got the idea to market and sell some of our bulls, and now we’re looking to move full-time into the seedstock business,” he elaborates.

 

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by Mike Apley in Vet's Opinion     |     

Hopefully, everyone is getting up to speed on the rapidly approaching changes coming with the veterinary feed directive. I’ve presented on this topic at numerous meetings, and some issues often come up:

The list of medically important antibiotics which will require a VFD in cattle is really quite short: Examples are tylosin, chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, neomycin, tilmicosin and chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine (a fixed combination). Concurrent feeding with any other drug must be approved on the VFD, although not as much detail is required for concurrently fed drugs.

Although the veterinarian does not have to specify the amount of feed which may be purchased by entering this on the VFD, someone must still figure out how much feed the producer may buy under the VFD. This will require cooperation between the distributor of the VFD feed and the producer who will feed the final feed product to animals. 

The veterinarian will specify the approximate number of animals to be fed and the rate of grams per ton for the VFD drug. The consumption rate of the cattle will determine the amount of feed to be purchased.

More VFD drug than authorized on the VFD may not be purchased. If feed or the premix to make the feed are left over after the VFD expires, then the VFD product may still be possessed, but may not be fed again until a VFD is in effect. 

In the case of chlortetracycline and oxytetracycline, some of the feed regimens on the label are mg of drug given per pound of animal body weight per day. In this case, the veterinarian must first use the estimated feed intake of the cattle, along with their body weight, to determine the grams per ton in the final feed. This may need to be specified for different weight ranges and anticipated feed intakes where variation is likely to occur during the VFD effective period. Communication among the veterinarian, producer and VFD drug distributor has never been more important.

Free-choice feeds are also causing some confusion. Since the formulation of free-choice feeds determines the intake, only approved formulations may be fed. For loose mineral, there is only one publicly approved mineral formulation containing chlortetracycline for control of active cases of anaplasmosis. The formulation may be manufactured by any business, including non-licensed feed mills. The “blue bird label” for this formulation may be viewed on the blue bird label page of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

To produce anything other than this publicly available formulation requires an FDA-approved formulation and must be produced by a licensed feed mill. If you have been using a mineral with chlortetracycline, check that it is an approved formulation and if you will be able to have it authorized by a VFD starting in 2017. You may find that your local distributor isn’t sure and he or she needs to check for you.

You will be able to purchase the type A chlortetracycline (CTC) products (the most concentrated form, containing 50 or 90 grams of CTC per pound) without a VFD because it is not a feed under the regulatory definition of feed; therefore, it is a medicated feed article and not a medicated feed. However, although you will be able to buy and possess the type A chlortetracycline product without a VFD, you will not be able to legally feed it without a VFD. 

Be aware that some distributors are considering requiring purchasers to sign a form indicating they understand they must have a VFD to feed the type A chlortetracycline medicated feed article, and will have a valid VFD in place before they feed it. Attempting to bypass the VFD regulations by buying the type A chlortetracycline medicated feed article and not obtaining a VFD when feeding it is a really, really bad idea. It’s bad for the industry, and bad for anyone doing it when the FDA shows up and asks to see the VFD that goes along with the drug that has been purchased.

Mike Apley, DVM, Ph.D., is a professor in clinical sciences at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

South Central ASA Trustee Nominees

South Central

 

Scott Cowger, Kansas City, MO

 

 

Campaign Letter

I am excited about the opportunity to represent the members of  the South Central Region on the ASA Board if elected! I have been actively involved within the Simmental breed for over 35 years coming up through the AJSA program and currently the ASSA (American Simmental/Simbrah Association) having served on the Activities and Events Committee, Policies and Procedures and chair the Building and Ground Committee during my previous term on the board. I embraced the challenges and opportunities that were presented and would love the opportunity to serve the membership and continue enhancing our breeds.  

I passionately believe in the future of the Simmental/Simbrah breeds and am excited about the progress we have made in the beef industry. The future looks great for the Simmental/Simbrah breeds and I can assure you I will continue to represent the membership to the best of my abilities. I look forward to working for our membership and continue our progress, being the industry leader in genetic evaluations, EPD's and providing leadership for the future. Thank you again for considering me to serve the South Central Region as an ASA Trustee and I look forward to working for you if voted onto the board.

Respectfully yours,

Scott Cowger

  BIO

Cowger is part of RS&T Simmentals, LLC, a 135-head, closely knit family operation that includes his wife, Lorri; children: Jordan, 18, and Tyson, 16; sister:  Tiffany; and parents: John and Becky. He holds a B.S. degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Missouri-Columbia and current serves as a mentor and guest lecturer for undergraduate students in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Cowger previously served on the ASA Board of Trustees from 2012-15, has served as president and board member of the Missouri Simmental Association, completed a two-year term as an AJSA Trustee in the late 1980s and was a member of ASA’s Progress Through Performance (PTP) committee. RS & T Simmental bulls are marketed through an annual sale held on the farm and primarily go to commercial breeders located within a 150-mile radius. A select group of open show heifers are sold through an on-line sale, while bred females and cow/calf pairs are sold through the Livin’ the Dream and The Gathering sales.

 

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Gary Updyke, Checotah, OK

Gary Updyke 

 

 

Campaign Letter

As you read this letter and make a choice for board member of your South Central Region, I would appreciate it if you would consider me to represent you.

You can find out a little about me in the brief bio on your enclosed ballot. Since I haven't had the opportunity to meet many of you, I'll try to fill in the blanks and keep this simple.

My grandpa homesteaded our farm in western Oklahoma (between Vici and Seiling) where my family and I raised wheat. After serving in the Marines Corps 4 years, I earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education, taught Vocational Ag at Floyd, New Mexico, and then returned to Oklahoma State University to complete my Masters and Educational Doctorate.

My wife, Cindy, and I raised our two children in Eastern Oklahoma (between Checotah and Warner). It was there that Updyke Simmentals was established in 1982 for our kids who were in 4H and later FFA. Quality family time made those some of my best years.  I was also an administrator at Connors State College where I supported the start of Be a Champ Show Cattle Camp held every summer at CSC. In addition, I had the privilege of serving as heifer superintendent of Muskogee Regional Livestock Show and Junior Simmental Heifer Superintendent of the Tulsa State Fair for many years. As our children headed to college, our objective turned to raising quality performance Simmental cattle.

The theme for ASA Fall Focus this year was "Teaming Technology with Tradition" which pretty much covers my experiences with ASA. I have progressed from registering calves on tedious hand written reports to entering data online and receiving reports of EPDs on all of our registered cattle. 

Electing a member for the ASA Board of Trustees is very important for you as a Simmental breeder. ASA is leading the cattle industry. ASA administration and staff work together as a family to provide cattle producers everything necessary to improve and market their cattle. Your current board has a good representation from each region with a balance of mutual and varied interests. I feel that my background and experience make me a good fit with this board; so again, I would appreciate your consideration and your vote for Trustee.

Sincerely,

Gary W. Updyke

Contact info: 918-843- 3193 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 BIO

In July 2015, Updyke was appointed to the ASA Board to fill the unexpired term of Blake Nelson, who had resigned. He is the owner-operator of Updyke Simmentals, a family-owned cow/calf operation that includes 120 breeding age females. Updyke genetics are marketed in a variety of ways from bull test consignment sales to state sales to private treaty. A Simmental breeder for 36 years, Gary has been involved in NCBA, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, served as president and a member of the board of the Oklahoma Simmental Association, and is currently president of McIntosh County Cattlemen's Association. In addition, he is a member of the American Legion, the county conservation board and the Community Action Foundation. A Marine Corps veteran, Updyke earned his Bachelors Degree, Masters Degree and Educational Doctorate from Oklahoma State University, then served on the staff of OSU, Lamar Community College, and Vice President at Connors State College.

Updyke and his wife, Cindy, are the parents  of two children: Christina Amundson and the late Greg Updyke.

 

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