Month: January 2019

Bull buying checklist – EBVs

Your breeding objective

Before selecting a bull it is important that you have clear breeding objectives set for your herd. The following points should be used as a guide to determining your breeding objectives.

  • Traits of economic importance
  • Customer/market requirements
  • Herd production targets
  • Current herd performance
  • Breeding goals and selection criteria

Estimated breeding values (EBVs) can be combined into a $Index EBV which effectively ranks available animals with all traits weighted according to their effect on the profit drivers for the herd.

Make sure you keep your selection criteria in mind when selecting a bull. It is important that you rank your selection criteria in priority order. This will help you make a choice between bulls that generally meet your selection criteria. For more information see Breeding objectives.


Select genetically docile bulls to increase the probability that progeny will be quieter, have higher growth rate and transport better.

Temperament can be measured using ‘flight time’ or scored using a crush or yard test. The flight speed measure provides a more accurate and heritable measure of the trait to modify herd performance. For more information see Improving temperament and flight time.

Veterinary Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation or BULLCHECK™

The Veterinary Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation (VBBSE) was developed by the Australian Cattle Veterinarians to standardise bull fertility testing and to provide a consistent descriptor of bull fertility.

The report indicates whether a bull has met a set of standards for five bull fertility components. The components of fertility assessed are those that indicate whether a bull has a high probability, but not a guarantee, of being fertile.

The two components of the VBBSE are:

a) A summary of the five indicative components of bull fertility (see example below)

Bull number/name Age Yr:Mn Scrotum Physical Semen Morphology Serving
AACV Top of the Rack 2.02 37.0cm P Nt

b) A full report that identifies the bull, date of testing and by whom, where and comments associated with each test. A summary of the five components of bull fertility in the BBSE follows:

Scrotum – Scrotal circumference/size (SS) in centimetres (cm) where testes shape is within normal range. The current recommendations for tropically adapted bulls are a minimum scrotal size of 32cm (and average is 34–36cm) for a two-year-old bull.

Physical – Within the constraints of a standard examination, there is no evidence of any general physical/structural condition or of a physical condition of the reproductive tract indicating sub-fertility or infertility. This evaluation will identify structurally unsound bulls in legs, feet, sheath and general structure.

Semen – Crush-side assessment indicates that the semen is within normal range for motility, colour and per cent progressively motile and is suitable for laboratory evaluation.

Morphology – Semen examination of per cent normal sperm using high power magnification to ensure minimum standards for normal function are achieved.

Serving – The bull is able to serve normally as demonstrated in a standard test and shows no evidence of fertility limiting defects.

For more information see Bull breeding soundness examination (BBSE).

Serving capacity testing

Serving capacity testing provides:

  • an indication of a bulls ability to mount and serve a cow/heifer and includes both reproductive and structural soundness (legs, feet, sheath, penis and overall anatomy)
  • a measure of the sex drive (libido) or eagerness of a male to seek out a female on heat
  • an indication of the subsequent pregnancy rates achieved following a restricted mating period (more particularly in Bos taurus breeds).

The summary table (like the example) will indicate:

For this component, the bull met the fertility standards as published by the Australian Association of Cattle Veterinarians x The bull did not meet the standards for this fertility component
Na Not Applicable e.g. certificate not required to indicate status for this fertility component Nt This fertility component was not fully tested/evaluated
P (For Morphology only). The samples taken do not meet the full standards but indicate that the bull is very likely to be fertile under natural mating P=>50% and <70% N. Seek advice from your cattle vet. A ü = >70% Normal

Estimated Breeding Values

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are predictions of an animal’s genetic merit, based on available performance data on the individual and its relatives.

BREEDPLAN EBVs are expressed in the units of measurement for each particular trait. They are shown as positive or negative differences from the breed base (or breed average). EBVs provide the best basis for the comparison of the genetic merit of animals reared in different environments and management conditions. EBVs can only be used to compare animals within the same breed.

The differences in EBVs between animals are more important than the absolute value of the EBV. Particular animals should be viewed as being ‘above breed average’ for a particular trait only if their EBVs are better than the average EBVs of all animals born in their year drop.

EBVs are published for a range of traits including fertility, growth and carcase merit. When using EBVs to assist in selection decisions it is important to achieve a balance between the different traits and to place emphasis on those traits that are important to your herd, your markets, and your environment.

Calving Ease Traits

Calving ease is an important economic trait because of its impact on calf and heifer mortality, labour and veterinary expenses at calving time, and subsequent re-breeding performance of female cattle.

Calving Ease (DIRECT) EBVs

Calving Ease (DIR) EBVs are estimates of genetic differences among animals in their ability as a direct effect of the sire. The EBVs are reported as differences in the percentage unassisted calvings. Higher, more positive, Calving Ease (DIR) EBVs are more favourable.

Calving Ease (DTRS (daughters)) EBVs

Calving Ease (DTRS) EBVs indicates the genetic differences for calving ease of an animals daughters. The EBVs are reported as differences in the percentage unassisted calvings. Higher, more positive, Calving Ease (DTRS) EBVs are more favourable.

Gestation Length EBVs

Gestation Length EBVs are estimates of genetic differences among animals in the number of days from the date of conception until the calf birth date. Lower, or more negative, Gestation Length EBVs are generally more favourable. This EBV is only available where the mating and calving dates are known.

Birth Wt EBVs

Birth Wt EBVs are estimates of genetic differences between animals in kg of calf birth weight. Small, or moderate, Birth Wt EBVs are more favourable.

Fertility Traits

Fertility is a critical component influencing the profitability of a breeding herd. EBVs are provided for two fertility traits – Days to Calving and Scrotal Size. These traits contribute important information to assist in making breeding decisions to maintain herd fertility.

Days to Calving EBVs

Days to Calving (DC) EBVs are estimates of genetic differences in fertility, expressed as the number of days from the start of the joining period until subsequent calving. Lower, or more negative for Days to Calving EBVs are more favourable.

Scrotal Size EBVs

Scrotal Size EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in scrotal circumference at 400 days of age. Larger, or more positive, Scrotal Size EBVs are more favourable.

Growth Traits

EBVs are provided for three growth traits: 200-Day Wt, 400-Day Wt and 600-Day Wt. Selection for growth traits should be relative to the target market weights.

200-Day Wt EBVs

200-Day Wt EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in weight at 200 days of age. Larger, more positive, 200-Day Wt EBVs are generally more favourable.

400-Day Wt EBVs

400-Day Wt EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in weight at 400 days of age.  Larger, more positive, 400-Day Wt EBVs are generally more favourable.

600-Day Wt EBVs

600-Day Wt EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in liveweight at 600 days of age. Larger, more positive, 600-Day Wt EBVs are generally more favourable.

Mature Cow Wt EBVs

Mature cow weight is recorded at the time the calf is weaned and taken over up to five calvings. It is an indication of the mature weight of the breeders and should be related to the nutrition available on the property.

Carcase Traits

Carcase Weight EBVs

Carcase weight EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in hot standard carcase weight at 650 days of age. Larger, more positive, Carcase Weight EBVs are more favorable.

Eye Muscle Area (EMA) EBVs

EMA EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in eye muscle area (cm2) at the 12/13th rib site on a 300kg carcase. Larger, more positive, EMA EBVs are generally more favourable.

Rib Fat EBVs

Rib Fat EBVs are estimates of the genetic differences among animals in fat depth (mm) at the 12/13th rib site, on a 300kg carcase. Rib Fat EBVs are used to change the progeny fat levels relative to the market specifications.

Rump Fat EBVs

Rump Fat EBVs are estimates of genetic differences among animals in fat depth at the P8 rump site on a standard 300kg carcase. Rump Fat EBVs are used to change the progeny fat levels relative to the market specifications.

Retail Beef Yield % (RBY%) EBVs

RBY% EBVs are estimates of genetic differences among animals in percentage retail beef yield in a 300kg carcase, with 2–3mm fat trim, adjusted to 85% chemical lean. Larger, more positive, RBY % values are more favourable.

Intra-Muscular Fat % (IMF%) EBVs

IMF% EBVs are estimates of genetic differences among animals in percentage intra-muscular fat (marbling) in a 300kg carcase. Depending on the market targets, positive IMF% EBVs may be more favourable.

Other issues to consider

DNA Markers

This is a developing science and provides a key for the future. Markers are now available for Marbling and Tenderness traits. This technology has potential to identify animals carrying the desired markers, but may not provide its fullest benefit until further markers are identified for many traits.

Net Feed Efficiency (NFI)

Net Feed Efficiency (NFI) identifies animals that are more efficient converters of available feed to kg of liveweight gain. A negative EBV for NFI will provide the opportunity for producers to select more efficient animals.

In summary

  • Set your ‘breeding objectives’
  • Select only genetically docile bulls (flight time test preferable)
  • Ask for a Veterinary Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation (VBBSE) before sale
  • Research BREEDPLAN EBVs (available on line before sale).

Summary table for buyers to ‘fill in’ with their bull selections and associated data for comparisons in advance of auctions commencing.

The GREAT RECONCILIATION – Paper Cows vs. Teeth Tits & Wheels

Taken from –

Humbled is how we come to you today; but humored as well.  We are so incredibly thankful for the beautiful illustrations of humanity that we work and walk with in this life’s business.  They are great people…the best in fact!  These folks that we admire are tenacious (or is it stubborn?), hard-working (or is it hard-headed?), convicted (or is it “strongly” opinionated?), visionary and forward thinking (unless you are looking down the road from the opposite direction; then they’re just plain backward!)  You get the picture!  These vibrant strands of humanity woven throughout our industry are as subject to perception as any other sector of humanity….and let me tell you…sometimes they really do embrace their humanity…aaahhhhum!  With that vibrant picture painted before your keenly lit eyes, I introduce you to two sectors of our industry:  the purebred/registered breeder and the commercial cattlemen.  Before I delve into the characteristics of these two sectors, I must warn you that I am going to be a bit precocious ribbing each of them as I reconcile their uniquely perceived interests into one common interest of success! (So, whichever group you belong to, please know that I intend to give you a little rub as I have a bit of fun with you!)

Introducing the purebred/registered breeder!  Our industry is truly indebted to the visionary cattlemen who are geneticists, scientists and those who have the desire to build the best bovine that has ever graced God’s green earth!  We like them round, sound and low to the ground and we like them pretty!  Nice feet, wedged just right, pretty udders, perfect angles and doe-like faces with lashes like Bambi!  These cattlemen are generally plagued with passion that cause wives and daughters to be envious of Lucky Lucy Loo #302!  These folks are some of our brightest and best on every level.  A few subtle years ago, these folks challenged heaven and earth (in and out of the show-ring!) as they began breeding for the better bovine with their eyes focused intently on quality and profitability.  That passion gave rise to relative bench-marking, tracking of statistics, creation of performance associations, development of indexes, and creation of EPD’s.  In today’s climate, many pass over the cow’s production records for gestation, weaning weights, birth weights and fertility.  Instead, they look almost exclusively at EPD’s or gnomics; and, have forgotten that “function must fit the form!” Great numbers will not result in great cows if they are not designed to thrive in the intended environment.  The notion of exclusively or predominantly looking at the numbers, which are mere expected performance guesses, has led to the eventual demise of evaluating “Betsy on the hoof” and the equally eventual evolution of the PAPER cow.

In this world of $500,000 cows, shiny auction blocks, polished people and beautiful…. beautiful papers, it seems as though the cow and her eventual offspring are oft forgotten!  Additionally, in this world, one could argue that we have moved to that precarious place where we are breeding paper instead of cows at all…and, in fact, the phenotype of the cow may in fact be a poorly conceived after-thought.  Here lies the birth of the perils that cause us to cringe.  Our industry is fraught with beautiful pedigrees accompanied by bad feet including corkscrew claw, long toes and short flat heels.  Equally prolific are structural compromises such as straight shoulders and post-y hips, bad bags, raised, sloped tail heads and small pelvises.  Lastly we have the specimen who is unable to maintain a consistent breed back or who does not display maternal characteristics that will lend to care free calving.  Based on the beauty of the pedigrees, the trendy names and novelty of the numbers, however, these characteristics are overlooked and Betsy Be Gone dodges the cull gate again and again.  On some outfits, she is excused on that occasional year when she doesn’t raise a calf; she gets a much needed pedicure each fall; and, she slowly evolves from a spring calver to a fall calver and back to a spring calver as the calving date slips ever so slightly each and every year.  But…you must understand, the numbers are simply beautiful!  Fortunately the gifted minds and convictions of our forefathers in this cattle building business have persevered! Most of our breeders are performance based cattlemen who understand what makes a cow herd work; and, what traits are important to the cattleman!

Now, before you rain hell and fire in my direction, let’s have a bit of fun with the commercial cattleman and I assure you, we’ll eventually weave this tale together in a happy way that leaves every party with their dignity in tact!

I enjoy those moments spent basking in the simple yet brilliant wisdom of the commercial cattleman.  This specimen is the most tenacious of businessmen.  The commercial cattleman is truly the most pristine picture of the west; the portrait of the free spirited American cowboy…deeply attached to the land, the legacy and the livestock.  He is the man who sells pounds for a living in spite of the market, the politics and the weather.  He operates on a larger scale and a tighter budget with a keen eye bent toward input costs as he keeps that ever-shrinking bottom line black.  All the while he supplies the world with pounds of red meat …the BEST red meat that money will buy I might add!   The commercial mind is focused on profitability and is keenly aware that the “best” cow ($$$) may not be the best investment.  He balances on the wire as he weighs capital outlay, return ofinvestment and return on investment with herd quality and cash flow.

The commercial cattleman understands real world cattle and the harsh conditions in which our stock must thrive to remain profitable.  He is keenly aware that the mama cow must take care of herself, raise a calf independently, breed back, wean a respectable calf and do it again year after year without falter.  He may breed and raise his own replacements; or his cattle may be sprinkled with somewhere upward of 6 brands….6 breeds and 6 colors.  In spite of this, he knows quite intimately that pay day is all about tipping the scale on shipping day; it’s a vicious game he plays.  He shoots for BALANCED….round, sound and low to the ground; muscle, mass, deep ribs, length like a freight train, the ability to cover country like a mountain goat all the while gaining weight as if Thanksgiving happens every day! Occasionally, however, the deals draw him into a few specimen that scream tall, flat and narrow as he attempts to balance quality with capital outlay!  The trick though, is that those tall, flat and narrow cows wean the same type of calves; and, they trip over pennies eating dollar bills as they do it.  He shakes his head as he scans the pen on shipping day knowing full well that some of those “let it slide” decisions have cost him as he overlooks a pen of uneven calves lacking uniformity, desirability….and 50 pounds.  On cull day, he has his sights set high, but in light of the slumped killer cow market and the pretty penny those shiny bred heifers will cost him…he may let Lop Sided Lucy slip by one more time noting that “she raised a whopper calf this year…and after all…she’s got teeth, tits and wheels…and she’s got a calf in her!”  What the heck…does she need teeth?

And alas my friends, this is the point when we come full circle.  While I have been incredibly sarcastic at the expense of “our people.”  These are the BEST people God created in vicious pursuit of the BEST life….building the best legacies!  The take-away from this conversation is that we must be mindful of the end game in order to be successful; and, neither segment of this industry can exist without the other.  The purebred breeder needs the commercial cattleman; he is the factory for the cattle industry!  As such, the purebred industry must be mindful that while the numbers are a imperative to continued improvement and a crucial means to the end, but they must not lose sight of those things that are essential to the commercial cattleman!  We must have sound, efficientcattle who are able to produce and reproduce year after year.  That means that our purebred cattle must be proven to survive and thrive facing the same elements and criteria as their commercial counterparts.  Likewise, the commercial cattlemen need good cattle to continue to produce the best beef that the world has to offer!  They need the design team and they look to you…they NEED you…the purebred breeder to make that happen!

Ps!  As you travel around, Midland may very well be the ONLY major sale that provides the damn dam production records!

Hidden revolution in beef genetics

Genetic evaluation accuracy leaps ahead.

Wes Ishmael | Jan 02, 2019

“Before, as a commercial bull buyer, you ran the risk of making incorrect bull-buying decisions if you weren’t using EPDs. That risk is now significantly greater,” says Matt Spangler, beef genetics specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ignoring EPDs comes with more risk because EPDs are significantly more accurate than they were 12 to 18 months ago, due to a new way of calculating them.

In simple, incomplete terms, the breeds most used by commercial cattle producers adopted something termed “single step.” It’s a new way of calculating genomic-enhanced EPDs (GE-EDPs), in which pedigree, genotype, phenotypic information and progeny performance are incorporated into the calculation at the same time.

Before, GE-EPDs were created by incorporating genomic data with previously calculated EPDs. Before, GE-EPDs were available only for animals that were genotyped. Given the new way genomic information is included in EPDs (single step), the genotyped animals and their relatives benefit from genomic data.

GE-EPDs, compared to the EPDs of yore, provide a level of prediction accuracy for a nonparent animal that is on par with already knowing the performance of 10 to 20 progeny, depending on the trait in question.

So, the transition to single step increases the accuracy of these GE-EPDs, and the genomic information flows throughout the pedigree, affecting relatives of the genotyped animal as well.

That’s not to say EPDs were inaccurate before. Rather, the advanced methodology provides even greater levels of accuracy.

“We’ve seen the most substantive change to beef cattle evaluation that we’ve seen in decades,” Spangler says. In fact, he likens it to the sea change in genetic evaluation that occurred when EPDs first got their footing in the mid- to late 1980s.

Shifting to single step required new software, lots more computing power and an untold number of changes to how breeds deal with data. Along the way, Spangler explains, breeds took advantage of the transition to update heritability estimates, adjust how they account for selection bias and model particular traits, among other things. These tweaks also added to increased prediction accuracy.

New genetic evaluation’s effects
At the bottom line, EPDs calculated via single step are more accurate. More visible is the fact that the numbers will change more frequently.

With single step, most breed associations conduct genetic evaluation at least weekly, as opposed to a couple of times each year. Although animal rankings are unlikely to change, the raw numbers do.

“Users need to get comfortable with the idea that the EPDs will change more frequently,” Spangler says. He likens it to getting a weather forecast every week, rather than once or twice each year.

As well, the numeric accuracy associated with individual EPDs declined for breeds using BOLT (biometric open language tools) software, according to Jared Decker, Extension beef genetics specialist at the University of Missouri. He explains the EPDs themselves are more accurate, but the ability to measure numeric accuracy directly, rather than approximating it, means lower numeric values.

Breeds using BOLT include Hereford and those that are part of International Genetic Solutions. Moreover, Decker explains some breeds added or revamped selection indexes during the transition to single step.“I continue to point commercial producers toward economic selection indexes that provide a single number to focus on the most important trait, which is profitability,” Decker says.

BIF focuses on profitability and sustainability for seedstock producers

Jane Parish
North Mississippi Research and Extension Center

BIF President Donnell Brown said seedstock producers must remain focused on the needs of the commercial industry.

As a fifth-generation rancher from Throckmorton, Texas, Brown has spent most of his lifetime focused on the wants and needs of the commercial cattleman. Striving to produce seedstock that will help his customer be more profitable and sustainable in today’s beef industry.

After graduating from Texas Tech in 1993, Brown and his bride, Kelli, moved home to Throckmorton to help manage the R.A. Brown Ranch seedstock business. Brown said their goal when getting married in 1991 was to raise cows, kids and Quarter Horses and they continue to focus on those objectives today.

Breeding and genetics have been a passion of Browns since an early age. With this interest, he became involved in the Beef Improvement Federation, attending his first BIF Research Symposium and Convention in 1993.

“BIF is a beef organization without politics. BIF meetings are about finding the best way to produce the best cattle at the least cost using sound science.”

“Attending that first convention, I was amazed how I could sit down in a small session or visit in the hallways with the gurus of beef cattle genetics,” Brown said. “The people who wrote the research I read during my four years of college. Because of BIF I was able to build relationships with and learn from those movers and shakers, the great thinkers who help us keep our business based on sound science. BIF is my favorite convention each year.”

Brown was elected to the BIF board of directors in 2012 and is currently serving as BIF president. His term as president will end at the 2018 BIF Research Symposium and Convention June 20-23 in Loveland, Colo.

“Donnell brings a practical and forward-thinking approach to BIF,” said Jane Parish, BIF executive director. “He understands the importance of genetic improvement at the ranch level and is a tireless advocate for sharing science-based knowledge throughout the entire industry.”


For more than a century, west Texas has been home to the R.A. Brown Ranch. Named the 1993 BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year, the Brown family currently supplies Angus, Red Angus and SimAngus genetics to cattlemen across the country.

“Our mission at R.A. Brown Ranch is very clear,” Brown said. “We are striving to improve the efficiency of converting God’s forage into healthy, nutritious, great tasting beef to better feed His people.”

Brown’s parents, Rob and Peggy, have been proactive in estate planning for decades and in 2013 they led their family through a generational transfer. The couple successfully passed their ranch on to their four children while enjoying good health. Brown said his parents’ goal was to, “keep the ranch in the family and the family in the ranch.”

At that time, Donnell and Kelli assumed ownership of the R.A. Brown seedstock division, which they had managed for 23 years. Today they continue the tradition of raising and merchandising top-quality seedstock, along with their two sons, Tucker and Lanham.

Both boys work on the ranch, plus Tucker manages the R.A. Brown wildlife program and his wife, Karley, is a school teacher. Lanham graduated from Texas Tech in May and returned to the ranch where his passion is training and showing horses.

The R.A. Brown Ranch has been recognized for its excellence many times. The ranch received the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Cattle Business of the Century Award and American Quarter Horse Association/Bayer Best Remuda Award, and since 2015 has been named one of the top providers of seedstock genetics in the country by BEEF magazine. BREEDING PROGRAM

The Browns use the technologies available such as artificial insemination (AI), embryo transfer (ET), ultrasound, DNA and feed efficiency testing to produce superior genetics that fit the needs of the beef industry.

Brown said the strategy of their breeding program is to use a high percentage of proven sires in an extensive ET program utilizing young females as donor cows.

They DNA test all bulls and heifers. He said collecting the heifer genomic data is actually more valuable than the bulls. “With a DNA test, I can increase her EPD accuracy by about two lifetimes of production and we get that information before her first breeding,” he said. “When I am armed with that information, I can better produce cattle that fit our customers’ needs.”

A Grow Safe system was installed on the ranch three years ago. So today their genetic tool box includes three years of feed intake data on all bulls and replacement heifers.

“I am amazed with the genetic progress we can make in feed efficiency,” Brown said. “This information will help us produce more with less. The beef industry has worked for generations to increase performance/output, but with the measurement of expense/input traits like feed efficiency we can more effectively improve profit. Increasing efficiency is a must as we work to feed a growing global population.”


The Brown family has been marketing seedstock bulls since 1895. Currently, with the help of strong cooperating herds, they sell 850 bulls each year with their sales hosted at the ranch on the second Wednesday of October and second Wednesday of March. They also sell 150 registered females each year, including every 4-year-old female.

“Our goal is rapid genetic progress,” Brown said. “By selling every 4-year-old female we speed up the generation interval of our females.

“The benefits of this strategy (implemented in 2001) are threefold: 1) rapid genetic progress; 2) gives customer the opportunity to purchase females when they are entering the prime of their life; and 3) gives the Browns cash flow to sustain their extensive ET program.”

The strength of their program is shown by the high percentage of repeat customers, as well as by having 25 bulls in major AI studs.

An influential and effective leader since high school, Brown served as president of both the Texas FFA and National FFA. He has assisted with strategic planning for four different breed associations as well as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“Even before Brown became president of BIF, he showed leadership in the organization in many ways,” Jane said. “He energetically focused board discussions on strategies for the future and offered up new ideas that helped BIF continue its legacy of leading the industry in collaborative genetic improvement efforts. He led program development efforts for the annual convention that resulted in cutting-edge presentations to stimulate producers, beef industry stakeholders, researchers and Extension. Donnell is a strong supporter of the Young Producers’ Symposium added to BIF programming in recent years.”


“As seedstock producers our job is to make progress through selection,” Brown said. “EPDs can help us, but we need to make sure the tools we use to describe our cattle, specifically EPDs, continue to be based on the most advanced sound science — that is a must.”

In 1968, BIF was formed as a means to standardize programs and methodologies, and to create greater awareness, acceptance and usage of performance concepts in beef production. The organization’s three-leaf clover logo would come to represent industry, extension and research, just as the organization’s annual symposium would become the premier forum bringing industry segments together to discuss and evaluate performance topics.

“BIF is focused on the application of sound science to make a lasting impact on the beef business,” Brown said. “The BIF convention is the crossroads where academia, breed associations and cattle producers all come together.”

“BIF brings people interested in genetic selection together to apply science to the beef community. We help scientists get on track with what the producer needs, we help the producer get on track with what scientists have developed and we help keep breed associations relevant.”


“Today’s beef producer has a wide spectrum of challenges to face,” Brown said. “As BIF leaders, we need to go back to the basics and discuss accurate measurement and proper contemporary grouping. We need to address multi-trait selection indices. The application of all-purpose indices focused on long-term profitability in the beef business needs to be our focus.”

Brown has been researching and using selection indexes for more than 27 years. “My college adviser and dear friend, Dr. Ronnie Green, taught me how to build and use selection indices when I was in college,” Brown said. “I believe multi-trait selection index is the right tool to help us select for long-term profitability and sustainability in the beef industry.

“In the future, I am confident there will be breeders with sound genetic evaluations who will breed, market and influence the majority of the seedstock in the beef business. And their association will be with the organization that stays grounded in sound science and focused on profitability and sustainability of commercial cattlemen.”

Green, now University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor, said, “What has always impressed me about Donnell is that he is a holistic thinker about his mission. While an undergraduate at Texas Tech, he was focused on learning everything he could about genetics with the goal of using that information to build better cattle. He is authentic in his approach and every decision he makes he does so with his customers in mind.

“There are few people in the world like Donnell Brown, the cattle industry is very fortunate to call him one of its own.”


Brown will pass the BIF reigns to the next president on June 22, but there’s no doubt his passion and commitment to BIF’s principles and goals will continue for years to come.

“BIF is a beef organization without politics,” Brown said. “BIF meetings are about finding the best way to produce the best cattle at the least cost using sound science.

“Two things you won’t find at a BIF meeting is propaganda or politics. If this is appealing to you, I encourage you to attend the 50th BIF Convention.” ❖

Tough Lessons from the Bleachers…..Marketing 101!

Taken from –

Cheers and here’s to hoping that everyone had a blessed and joyful holiday season; and, that 2018 is off to a great start! As we precariously roll into the New Year, most likely we have started a list of mental meanderings as we contemplate these first few months. Perhaps the highly motivated have even scratched down a list of resolutions…most likely on the back side of a pink feed receipt.  With the New Year, we also usher in calving season along with short sleeps, cold fingers, frozen toes, and copious amounts of coffee. But ahhhhh there it is….the light at the end of the tunnel!  It’s that big check that we hope to cash at the end of Bull Sale Season!  From the outside looking in, it’s truly a magical time of year when fathers gather up their sons and daughters skipping school to attend “THE” sale.  For the producer, the day comes with pensive relief knowing that the preparations are complete.  The final relief comes when a he walks into the sale ring and sees the bleachers brimming with people.

The bleachers drive this month’s conversation!  Now, just to get us warmed up, I would like to tell you a story.  We’ve all seen it at the country fair.  In fact, it usually happens to the same kid every year!  I’m going to call him Jimmy.  Every year, Jimmy arrives at fair in an absolute whirl wind.  It doesn’t appear that he’s quite ready to be at the fair, but he qualifies this by noting that he has a job, basketball practice in the mornings and it is summer break after all.  Jimmy never quite knows where he is supposed to be, so mostly he follows the pack asking panicked questions.  He barely makes the show, but what the heck….he’s here to make money!  Sale day eventually rolls around and Jimmy walks his steer into the ring.  The auctioneer begins….someone eventually offers an opening the bid.  The auctioneer begs for bids, and for a few seconds, the bottom-bid-buyers help Jimmy with another $5.  Jimmy leaves the ring disheartened and talking disparagingly about the politics and such.  But you see, Jimmy didn’t come to the sale with any bids in his pocket.  He didn’t send out buyer letters, he didn’t market his steer…he didn’t do his homework!  He fed the lie that he didn’t have “time.” He came to the sale with hope and left all the rest to chance!  But here’s the catch!  He failed on purpose because he didn’t create any reason why he would experience success that exceeded that of his competition.  He didn’t purposefully place anyone in the bleachers; and, he didn’t give anyone in the bleachers a compelling reason to bid on his steer other than a low rate opportunity.  Jimmy’s success was a direct reflection of Jimmy’s choice to rely on hope rather than purposeful marketing.  Jimmy’s success was a direct reflection of the fact that he didn’t take the time to market his steer because “chance” seemed to be a reasonable shake of the dice….and other priorities won out!

So, long story short, this month’s blog is all about filling the bleachers on sale day….purposefully thinking about a marketing plan that will effectively target and interest the right crowd!  It’s about building success before sale day arrives!

The first objective is to determine what sector of the bull sale market you would like to target. For some it may be other seed-stock producers, but for the vast majority, it’s commercial breeders. At this juncture, you must be in tune with the objective of your breeding program and what characteristics will entice buyers.  Perhaps you are known for having a slew of sire groups which cater to those in need of a low maintenance calving ease winter. Or maybe your breeding is tailored to sire calves to cross the scales with weaning weights that drive hard at the bottom line!   Whatever your particular strengths…know them…drive your marketing toward them and capitalize on them. Buyers will become faithful when you clearly identify your product and you deliver what you promised for several years running. And now the magic starts!  Folks will begin filling in the empty spots in the bleachers because they’ve heard and the hype has taken hold!  Continue to build on it. But remember to think outside the box when it comes to promotion….

There are many different ways to promote your business in today’s age of technology!  Some avenues may cost you financially, while others may merely require blood, sweat, and tears.  Your message is critical and reputation is everything in this business!   In this era, you can’t afford to ignore social media marketing such as Facebook!  Facebook is a cheap way to provide tremendous amounts of exposure to your operation.  If you have resources and knowledge, be diligent and pay attention to the strategies of breeders whom you deem to be successful.  If you do not have the knowledge, seek out marketing firms or individual known for the quality work. Take the time to connect with other breeders by “liking” their pages and asking them to “like” yours.  As that happens, you gain access and exposure to their contacts as well as yours and the exponential result is simply astonishing!  Spend time interacting with folks on Facebook to gain exposure.  Social media is a great way to add polish and exposure to your operation.  Trust me!  This is time and money well spent!

Representing your cattle in photos and video is essential in our market.  We are blessed with a plethora of incredible talent when it comes to photographers and at the end of the day, good pictures sell bulls!   With that reality, however, comes a double edge sword!  We have all seen the shiny, jet black, head cocked off, hind-leg set just right, photos, one after another from well-known photographers.  When you move onto the video of the same animal you are left scratching your head wondering if they may have gotten something mixed up. When it comes to hiring someone to picture your cattle and design your advertisements, understand that a clone stamp or layer change here or there may seem necessary to some, however, it may come as a surprise, but to a lot of folks, a picture that genuinely represents the animal is valued far above a three-hour photoshop job after 300 action shots in the picture pen.

At the end of the day, this is a business of networking and personal relationships.  Staying in contact with your customer base is critical.  While electronic media is powerful, face to face contact, marketing phone calls, ranch visits to see and discuss the calf crop sired by your bulls and personal contact will pay dividends beyond your imagination.  Your customers want to feel that you care about their operation and they want you to be interested in their success.  If they are going to invest in your program, they expect you to be make an investment in theirs!

Equally important is learning how to reach out and always be striving to increase the size of the customer base. That means that whether you are a “people” person or not….you HAVE to be a “people” person.  If you are unwilling or unable to do this, put someone in your business structure or family in this role that is better suited than you!  You need to make a solid, consistent presence in your local community.  In this business, word travels fast…both good and bad!  Reliability and integrity are list toppers when it comes to growing a long term sustainable business.   Remember that you are in this business to market cattle.  Also remember, that while the bull sale business is immensely competitive, you will always be perceived better if you check your emotions at the gate and just get on with doing good business…always with integrity and character!

In closing, I assert that mostly, results are logical.  Generally we get the results that are completely appropriate and consistent to the foundation (or lack of foundation) that we have laid.  I guess you could say that mostly results happens predictably and on purpose.  Perhaps we purposefully lay a foundation for a desired result being ever mindful in every decision.  Or…we bumble through without purpose and act surprised when the results match the lacking vision and nonexistent effort.  This is true in all aspects of life, but it most certainly holds true to how your marketing plan will drive you bull sales.  Create what you want on purpose!   Remember why you do what you do; and, remember why you love the life you lead!  Reach out the people who tick for the same reasons you do! So if the light at the end of the tunnel is that big check at the end of Bull Sale Season….put some grease on the wheels Chappy!

New cost – effective DNA test available to beef seedstock industry

published: OCTOBER 17TH 2016

Neogen GeneSeek is introducing a new, highly affordable genomic profiling test for seedstock production.

“The new GeneSeek® Genomic Profiler™Ultra-Low Density (GGP uLD) will provide ample power for predicting traits that beef seedstock will pass
along to their progeny. Never before have seedstock producers had such an affordable and powerful genotyping tool,” said Dr. Stewart Bauck, general manager of Neogen GeneSeek Operations.
Bauck said the new test will give breed associations a tool to expand the
genotyping of seedstock replacement heifers.
“As we have presented this new product to our breed association customers, they have seen that the affordable power of the GGP uLD
will bean attractive addition to their genotyping portfolios,” he added.
The new product uses high-accuracy imputation to higher-density SNP arrays, but will cost about one-third the price, Bauck said.
“As you look at the evolution of these new tests, accuracy of genotyping tools is increasing while cost is dropping,” he added.
Genotyping of seedstock replacement heifers has big advantages to the seedstock industry:
Producers obtain predictions on genetic merit early in the life of replacement heifers, allowing for genomically assisted selection
of their future cows and cost optimization in heifer development.
Seedstock breeders can add value to heifers by selling them
with genomically enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs).
Commercial cattle producers can purchase heifers with accurate GE-
EPDs, improving their ability to manage the future direction of their own cow herd’s maternal, performance and carcass traits.
The cattle industry now has an affordable heifer test to
combine with phenotype data collection efforts, speeding breed improvement and increasing the overall accuracy of genomic predictions.
By profiling heifers, rather than depending solely on collecting maternal phenotypes from sire progeny, breed associations can reduce the number of years it takes to assess economically important traits such as fertility traits that show up late in life.
This latest addition to the GGP portfolio is designed to help beef breeders maximize the value of moving to “one-step” genetic calculations.
“We have received positive feedback from the seedstock industry about
this affordable new power in their genotyping tool kit,” Bauck said. “
We are optimistic that this new test will significantly expand the number of
beef seedstock that are genotyped.
This expansion will improve the beef industry’s overall competitiveness
in food production by helping shorten generational intervals
and improve selection accuracy.”