ABS offers full service to help customers capture full value

Mar 12, 2010
by WLJ

In today’s beef industry, the ultimate goal is to produce a quality beef product that earns favor with consumers around the globe— and brings them back eager for more.

To achieve that goal of quality, consumer-soughtafter beef, savvy beef producers recognize that it takes a commitment to being better—from better genetics to produce better beef products, to better information to assure global consumer concerns, to better marketing to capture the value of the cattle they’ve invested in.

Over the years, ABS and its team of representatives have evolved to assist producers in that quest of being better.

“Improving the beef you produce still starts with superior bull selection, but we’ve added more services to help people select, breed and market better cattle—that are hopefully more profitable cattle,” says Larry Rowden, from Broken Bow, NE, who has been with ABS as a sales manager for 30 years.

Toward that effort, ABS not only offers superior genetics for AI—as they’ve done for the past 60 years, but has broadened their scope over the past decade to include several beef supply chain services to provide added benefits for their customers. Among the menu of services offered by ABS are: Genetic selection advice; Synchronization advice and services; Artificial insemination services; Age and source verification documentation; and Marketing assistance for feeder calves and replacement females.

Rowden explains that each of these services can add efficiency and value for producers as they strive to produce better beef. “We have focused on finding representatives who can offer these professional services … ABS is dedicated to helping customers be successful,” adds Rowden.

Full service focus

From the field, ABS representatives Adam Noble of Loma, CO, and Travis Chrisman of Wauneta, NE, are testament to ABS’ full service effort.

“I try to be a full service guy to my customers,” says Noble, who joined ABS in 2001 and operates Noble Genetics with his wife Jennifer. Their territory covers the entire Western Slope of Colorado where they will AI an average of 7,000 cows annually—and put on about 60,000 miles/year.

Noble’s full service focus includes everything from selection advice to synchronization, AI, verification and marketing assistance.

Regarding selection, he says, “About 80 percent of the time, I still get producers asking for mating and selection input. Producers recognize that we know the bulls and see a lot of progeny.”

Additionally, Noble is in a region where brisket disease (also known as High Mountain Disease or Pulmonary Hypertension) is a concern. Thus, he says, “We have a good idea on the bulls producers can use to avoid that risk, so our input is often sought for those selection decisions.”

Over the past nine years, Noble says he is also seeing an increasing interest in AI genetics. “Since 2001, we’ve tripled the amount of semen sold in this area,” he reports, and attributes it to people liking the calves.

“Ninety-five percent of our business comes from commercial producers and they recognize the better genetics and the added value they offer in the replacement females produced,” says Noble. He adds, “The steer calves produced are no throwaways either.”

Along with the interest in AI is growing demand for estrus synchronization services. Noble says, “Producers like the synchronization programs. It helps them maximize their time and labor over a couple days and then the cows are bred to proven AI sires.”

Noble and his wife offer the gamut when it comes to synchronization services. “We can print out a calendar with the dates, times and products to guide them through implementing the synchronization program and then we do the AIing, or we can bring our saddle horses and be involved in the entire project. We’ve designed our services to be portable and are used to going into some pretty rugged country,” Noble says.

Travis Chrisman, with the assistance of his wife Kelli, operates Chrisman Cattle Services and offers similar selection, synchronization and AI services in southwest Nebraska. Chrisman joined ABS in 2004 and will AI 5,000-8,000 head annually.

“This was a well-established territory and producers recognize the value of AI genetics,” Chrisman says. And, regarding heifers particularly, he says, “It’s a lot safer bet to breed heifers to a proven AI bull—for calving ease, producing quality replacements or adding value if marketing bred heifers.”

Marketing Merit

Speaking of marketing, ABS has also put emphasis on helping their customers tap market opportunities, including providing age and source verification documentation to qualify for export eligibility, aligning with Big Blue Salebarn, an internetbased video auction where producers can sell feeder cattle, retain partial ownership, or connect with a quality-minded feeder to retain full ownership, analysis and interpretation of feedlot performance and carcass data, offering heifer marketing outlets.

In Nebraska, Chrisman has seen a good response from producers to the marketing services offered. As one example, he says, “Buyers want age and source verification and producers recognize that is essential to be eligible for premiums.” Noble agrees.

ABS is USDA-approved to provide age and source verification services for cow/calf producers, grow yards and feed yards. The process must begin at the farm or ranch of origin and includes an onsite audit where a short list of questions must be answered to determine if the calves are eligible for age and source verification. If the calves qualify, they will receive a program compliant tag and paperwork with documentation that will remain with them to the packing plant.

When producers are ready to market their calves, ABS can promote them through a private listing to a network of over 120 feed yards. Or, ABS marketing specialists are also available to video the cattle, consign them to internet-based Big Blue Sale Barn, and manage the weigh-up and shipping process. Big Blue Sale Barn holds an internet video auction every other week and specializes in age- and source-verified cattle suitable for branded beef and export programs.

Chrisman says the marketing aide offered by ABS has been especially helpful to smaller producers in his territory. “We are focused on helping producers add value through genetics, tapping the natural market, or qualifying for export markets. So, for producers who sell calves off the cow at weaning or may background, this offers additional opportunities for them to connect with buyers and garner a profit.”

All total, Rowden says, “We recognize that marketing brings things full circle and allows producers to capture the value they’ve added to their calves.” And, he reiterates, “The goal of ABS through all of the services we offer is to help customers be successful.” — Kindra Gordon