Click for list of Performance Advocates and scores
ASA Performance Advocate
The phrase “we’re all in this together” is certainly on the mark when it comes to our genetic evaluation program. Though a top-tier genetic evaluation system requires an engine built on cutting edge technology, that engine will not get us anywhere without fuel — the fuel being data. No matter how high tech the system used to calculate EPDs, achieving high levels of accuracy requires data — lots of data.
To encourage more thorough reporting of performance data, ASA has implemented the Performance Advocate Program. Any breeder who meets its requirements are listed annually in the late fall SimTalk and on our website as a Performance Advocate — a designation that should carry weight in the industry. The achievement conveys to potential customers that you are serious about performance testing.
- Only members enrolled in THE are eligible for the Performance Advocate designation.
- A breeder must submit the following records on 100% of the calves in their herd:
- Calving ease scores
- Birth weights
- Weaning weights
- Yearling weights
- Yearling hip heights
- Ultrasound or carcass measurements
To comply with the program, a breeder is required to submit calving ease scores and calf birth weights for every cow on inventory that calved during that year (whether its calf was dead or alive). From calving on, breeders need to be vigilant about using Calf Removal Codes to achieve Performance Advocate status. If no calf record exists because they have been removed from the herd, the only way to reach 100% compliance is by applying a calf removal code for those which were not in your herd at the time of data recording.
Your level of compliance with the program can be monitored by logging into your account on our website. There you will find graphs indicating the proportion of your calves that have data recorded for each trait listed above. Hopefully, the capacity to easily monitor data submission and public acknowledgement for 100% compliance will increase data flow to the ASA.
Following are testimonials from several breeders who
have been actively pursuing
Performance Advocate status for their herds.
After seven years, ASA’s Performance Advocate (PA) program, which recognizes those breeders who consistently submit perfor mance data on six different traits, continues to expand. In the first year, a single breeder reached a perfect score of 600. During the second year, perfect scores expanded to eight breeders, to 13 breeders after three years, 19 after four years, 23 after five years. The current listing shows 29 per fect scores.
In addition, 64 other breeders recorded scores between 500 and 599. The six traits, for which all data must be reported, are: calving ease, birth
weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, yearling hip height and ultrasound. The maximum score for each of the six traits is 100, with the PA score calculated as the sum of the scores for each trait. PA scores listed in this issue are for the Fall, 2013 and Spring, 2014 calf crops.
Clear Springs Cattle Company, Starbuck, MN
The Wulf family at Clear Springs Cattle Company is relatively new to the Simmental business but are no strangers to the cattle industry and data collection. “When Clear Springs started our herd, Tom Hook of Hook Farms, Tracy, MN, was an obvious resource because of his long history of integrity and his great mind and eye for cattle,” said Travis Wulf. “After all, the Hooks have been raising performance-tested Simmental cattle for 43 years. After communicating, it was decided we would work together to better utilize resources and create larger contemporaries.” For the past four years the majority of the Hook cows have been at Clear Springs in Starbuck and Tom Hook has grown the bulls and hosted the sale in Tracy. Beginning this year, the bulls will be performance-tested in the new monoslope facility and the sale will be held at Clear Springs. All heifers will be developed and bred at Hook’s. The Hook and Wulf families have the same philosophies in many aspects of life and breeding cattle. Both operations are not only family-owned but also family-operated. “We strive to be as productive as possible while still being good stewards of the land and cattle. Our commitment and belief in the ‘Bred for Balance’ brand guides the approach we take to produce cattle we believe will move the beef industry forward,” Wulf concluded. “Bred for Balance” 2017 will be held February 10, 2017, at the ranch in Starbuck with approximately 90 bulls and 30 females that have all been weighed, ultrasounded, docility-scored and have genomically-enhanced EPDs, in the offering.
T&T Cattle, LLC, Riverton, WY
T & T Cattle is a partnership involving brothers Bobby and Brendan Thoman, a seedstock and grass fed beef operation with 100 cows and growing. Their operation specializes in low-input genetics that can do it all on grass. Profitability is a main focus and natural selection is key component. The cattle have to be low maintenance and efficient converters of grass, or they fall out of the program. In the search for efficiency and profitability, the value of the crossbred cow cannot be ignored
Balance in all traits is sought and extremes are avoided. SimAngus cattle have provided this balance and have proven very complimentary, even in successive generations when hybrid vigor wanes. Data collection is imperative to evaluate and score the cattle. ASA’s Total Herd Enrollment (THE) and Performance
Advocate programs encourage data collection on all cattle. This provides a more accurate representation of a cow’s genetic merit, and analysis of this data makes it easy to identify and remove under-performing cattle. This is a valuable tool in the toolbox of selecting and retaining superior cattle.
Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA
Our purebred herd of Simmental cattle was introduced in 2009 into the Beef Teaching Program in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech and currently includes 28 breeding-age females. This valuable breed, along with three other purebred breeds of cattle, provides our 600+ undergraduate majors with meaningful, real-life opportunities and situations in an experiential learning environment. Our commercial herd of 200 cows is heavily influenced by the Simmental breed where calves annually exhibit great uniformity and tremendous hybrid vigor, both pre- and post-weaning. Students are able to witness first-hand the excellent mothering ability from both the purebred female and the Simmental-influenced crossbred cow. In our selection process with the Simmental herd, we put heavy emphasis on homozygous polled genetics, homozygous black coat color, and high performance cattle with proven genetics. Embryo transfer and artificial insemination are consistently utilized to improve the genetics of our Simmental herd. All yearling cattle are ultra sounded to collect much-needed carcass data. The Total Herd Enrollment (THE) has allowed us to compile extensive data on individual animals to make accurate selection/culling decisions and provides us with on-line data basing and herd management services. VT Simmental cattle are in great demand and are routinely consigned and sold through state-sponsored and national consignment sales. We take full advantage of all the performance records, HD50K testing on all sale bulls, and ultrasound measurements that are generated through the Performance Advocate Program to not only provide reliable data to our customers but also to educate our undergraduate students.
McDonald Farm, Blacksburg, VA
McDonald Farms is an eighth generation diversified livestock farm that originated in 1763. When the first McDonalds came to the New World they wanted to build a better life for themselves and the rest of their fellow man. So it continues today. Our goal is to provide a good living for ourselves and a quality genetic product for our Customers. The former is dependent on the latter, so is the latter dependent on sound genetic evaluation. Our cowherd is made up of roughly 200 calving cows and heifers which consists of 50 PB Simmental, 50 PB Angus (dual registered with ASA and AAA) and 100 SimAngus™. The farm is located in the Tom’s Creek Basin near Blacksburg, Virginia. It is much like most of Southwest Virginia as it is good grass country. Grass is what we have to sell and we do that through the livestock we raise.
We work hard at collecting all the data for the Performance Advocate program as we feel that this information is critical to accurate genetic evaluation of our cattle. The proper grouping of contemporaries, collection of weights and ultrasound data of our bulls and heifers allows us to make informed decisions on which animals are worthy of contributing their genetics to the next generation.
The use of DNA evaluation is increasing as well, but we will always need to collect phenotypes to better understand the genotypes. It is a very exciting time to be in the cattle business and especially in Simmental as the demand for our performance genetics is growing more all the time. The future looks bright for those willing to provide quality genetics backed up by quality performance data.
Rydeen Farms, Clearbrook, MN
In 1897, Rydeen Farms began as 160 acres in northern Minnesota. Edward D. Rydeen from Winthrop, MN homesteaded the land at the age of 21, when President Grover Cleveland signed the Minnesota Homestead Act. As time passed, their dairy herd was replaced by a beef herd. The Simmental herd started expanding in the 1970s and breeding livestock was marketed in 1979. Today, Rydeen Farms is owned and operated by the Paul and Lois Rydeen family. In addition to cattle, the farm now includes corn, soybeans, wheat and forage for the livestock, which is produced over 2,500 acres of owned/rented land. Approximately 275 red and black cows make up the herd with the majority of cows calving in March and April. A fall calving herd was developed based on customer requests for aged bulls. Rydeen Farms is committed to the needs of commercial cattle men and women and seeks to provide bulls and females that help their customers succeed as they work to improve their product for the beef industry. There is an emphasis on the use of data and phenotype to improve the herd. The farm hosts an annual production sale, known as the “Vision Sale”, which is in its 19th year. The sale is held on the second Sunday in February, and markets yearling bulls, 18-month-old bulls and bred heifers.
Homefront Cattle Company, Utica, MN
Homefront Cattle Company is a family run operation located in the beautiful driftless area of southeast Minnesota, about 35 miles southeast of Rochester, MN. Homefront Cattle is owned and operated by Randy and Karolyn Boyum and their children John (Megan), Joe (Carrie and Bristol) and Jessica. Along with the cattle, the Boyum’s run 900 acres of cropland raising corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Homefront Cattle was established in 2008 with the purchase of their first Simmental cow, that started the transition from their dairy operation which ended in 2003. Within only a sort time their cow/calf operation had grown to over 160 pairs with roughly 60 of them being registered as purebred or percentage. The Boyum’s are a big believer in cow families and strives to improve their herd by using their top genetics. They do this by artificial inseminating most of their registered cows and using embryo transfer on their top proven cows. Along with using powerful cow families, Homefront Cattle is also very diligent about collect accurate data to help them make the next best decision to help improve their overall herd performance. Homefront Cattle keeps about 30 replacement heifers a year and markets around 10-15 bulls a year mostly through private treaty and consignment sales and markets the rest as feeder calves in early January.
Craig Hays, Maryville, MO
Craig and Becky Hays run about 125 Simmental and SimAngus™ cows in Maryville, Missouri. Replacement heifers are kept, the top end of bulls are marketed as seedstock, and the remainder of the calves are fed through a feedlot in order to collect carcass data. Many of their bull customers retain ownership on Hays Land and Cattle sired calves, so selection on performance and carcass is a must. In addition to the Performance Advocate traits, the Hays family also collects mature weights, hip heights, body condition scores, and rump fats on the cows. Collecting performance data has been a longstanding practice for the Hays family. Craig is among the first of ultrasound technicians to be certified to collect carcass ultrasound data. Becky runs UltraInsights Processing Lab, one of the three certified centralized ultrasound processing labs. In 2008, Craig and Becky built a 300-head feed efficiency testing center and later sold it to Becky’s family. All Hays yearling bulls and heifers continue to be evaluated for individual dry matter intake. Currently, the Hays cowherd is involved in two university research projects. The Hays children also participate in the dayto-day operations, along with the help of Craig’s father, Curt. Lindsay, 14, helps with calving and runs the chute during processing time, Jessica, 12, has a knack with paperwork, and Cody, 10, is Craig’s choice when it comes to sorting and pushing cattle. All enjoy the ultrasound aspects of the business. Craig and Becky feel blessed to be a part of such a family friendly industry and appreciate working with so many forward thinking fellow producers.
Circle M Cattle Company, Burlington, NC
Circle M Cattle Company was first established in 2000 by Jonathan Massey at Burlington, NC. Massey Farms was founded in 1972 by Johnny Massey, Jonathan’ s father. Today Circle M is owned and operated by Jonathan, his wife, Melissa, and family. Through the years many changes have come about to adapt to the ever changing cattle industry. The days of the purebred red Simmentals have given way to black SimAngus™ cattle as well as black Simmentals. Circle M Cattle now partners with Massey Farms to have their own combined bull and replacement female sale, keeping in all in the family. We are proud to announce that 2016 will be our Eighth Annual SimAngus Solution Sale that the Masseys hold annually on the farm the third Saturday in November. The bulls and females that are marketed each year are developed in a real world setting to allow them to perform once they are sold. The Massey family collects all available data on each animal born from birth to yearling. DNA testing is utilized for coat color and polled traits in the event it is unknown. Carcass data is collected on each bull that is sold in the annual sale. The Massey’s market around thirty bulls and twenty females annually to commercial cattlemen across the state of North Carolina, as well as Virginia, and South Carolina. As we go forward, we have three goals in mind. The first goal is to produce the highest quality bulls and heifers. The second goal is to provide the best quality customer service to our loyal customers who come back every year to purchase our breed stock through the year, just not on sale day. The third goal is to continue to be in the cutting edge of education and information on the everchanging field of genetics as it relates to the cattle industry.