Spring breeding decisions can influence marketing opportunities

Feb 12, 2010
by WLJ

As beef producers consider their breeding decisions this spring, one factor that should weigh into those decisions would be the marketing opportunities for those calves next fall. While it is difficult to predict where the market will end up in 2011, producers can look at current beef industry trends and breed association-sponsored marketing programs to help decide what direction to take this breeding season.

Recently, the beef industry is seeing a renewed interest in crossbreeding. Crossbreeding is one of the most fundamental breeding programs to optimize economically important traits such as maternal longevity and fertility, maternal milk, increased weaning and yearling growth, and carcass traits.

“There is a big advantage to crossbred cattle in the feed yard,” said Bill Sleigh, manager of Hays Feeders in Hays, KS. “I prefer to buy all Continental-British cross cattle as they are outstanding in terms of feed conversion and average daily gain.”

Implementing a crossbreeding program is also a simple solution to avoid the potential negative effects of genetic defects recently discovered in the Angus and Red Angus breeds.

“Today’s reality is that many producers have introduced Angus genetics into their herd in the last 10 years either as a means of insuring calving ease for first-calf heifers or to take advantage of the blackhided premiums in the feedlot. A similar case can be made for the use of Red Angus genetics,” commented Susan Knights Willmon, American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) director of Breed Improvement. “As such, there is a probability that commercial herds have some exposure to genetic defects as an unintended consequence of those bull selection decisions. Crossbreeding can minimize the risk of expression of genetic defects.”

Another item beef producers should consider when selecting their next herd sire is the marketing opportunities available from breed associations. AGA understands the importance of providing marketing opportunities to commercial producers who have Gelbvieh-influenced calves.

Last summer, AGA hired two area coordinators who are the field commercial marketing representatives for the association. Don Danell is the area coordinator for the western region of the U.S. and Steve Peddicord works in the eastern region. AGA will soon hire a third area coordinator for the Midwest.

In addition, the association has hired Frank Padilla as the director of Breed Promotion. Padilla will be responsible for the development and implementation of AGA marketing strategies, objectives and programs, creating maximum value for Gelbvieh genetics for AGA members and their com mercial customers.

“The AGA has essentially set up a marketing team.

The area coordinators and I are available to work with Gelbvieh breeders and their commercial customers to identify marketing opportunities for Gelbvieh-influenced cattle,” said Padilla. “In addition, we are able to help producers who are looking to add Gelbvieh genetics to their program.”

Another option for commercial producers who purchase bulls from Gelbvieh seedstock breeders is to market their calves through Gelbvieh Profit Partners (GPP). First organized in 2006, GPP works with order buyers to bid on Gelbvieh cross cattle at video auctions and sale barns in all regions of the country. For 2010, GPP is aligning with Producers Livestock Marketing Association, a prominent order buyer clearinghouse based in Omaha, NE, to purchase Gelbvieh-influenced cattle on a commission basis from GPP members and their customers.

“This new venture between Gelbvieh Profit Partners and Producers Livestock Marketing Association will provide greater marketing opportunities for Gelbvieh seedstock breeders who are members of GPP and their commercial customers,” said Slim Cook, GPP chief operating officer. “For a nominal, prorated seller commission, GPP will work with order buyers across the country to merchandise Gelbviehinfluenced feeder calves and provide the greatest profit potential.”

Besides being able to market the feeder calves, commercial cow/calf producers may also need to consider retaining replacement females when making breeding decisions this spring.

“Probably one of the biggest advantages of using a Gelbvieh or Balancer sire this breeding season is that not only will you have feeder calves that will reach top market prices, but you will also have a set of quality replacement heifers that will be some of your most powerful momma cows,” added Padilla.

To help commercial producers market Gelbviehinfluenced replacement females, AGA sponsors the Maternal Edge female sale. The purpose of the Maternal Edge sale is to provide a service to commercial producers who use Gelbvieh genetics and to promote the breed by building relationships with consignors and buyers.

In the first three years of the sale’s history, the Maternal Edge sale, held in Tennessee, has averaged $100 to $200 higher than other replacement commercial female sales in the region. In the fall of 2009, AGA added another Maternal Edge sale in Colorado which experienced similar success.

“The American Gelbvieh Association plans to sponsor additional regional Maternal Edge female sales.

We want to bring that same success and demand for Gelbvieh-influenced females created by the Maternal Edge sale in the southeast to other regions in the country,” Padilla says.

As part of the commercial marketing program, AGA maintains a current listing of cattlemen interested in both buying and selling Gelbvieh and Balancer females and bulls. This is a free service that attempts to match potential buyers with interested sellers and vice versa. To view the listing, visit www.gelbvieh.org and click on the link “Replacement Female Listings”’ or “Bull Listings.’” AGA is a progressive beef cattle breed association representing 1,500 members and registering approximately 40,000 animals annually. To contact AGA, call 303/465-2333 or visit www.smartcross.org. — WLJ