'Co-opetition' describes spirit of Red Angus members

Feb 3, 2012
by WLJ
While seedstock producers are often in direct competition with fellow breeders to gain market share, they also harbor a spirit of cooperation that brings them together for the betterment of their breed. In a recent convention in Durham, NC, Red Angus breeders convened to share marketing ideas, conduct business and celebrate the year’s successes at the Red Angus Association of America’s (RAAA) 58th National Convention.

In his address to the convention assembly, RAAA President Joe Mushrush of Strong City, KS, modeled RAAA as a perfect example of “co-opetition”—a term combining the words “cooperation” and “competition” that describes competitors within an industry cooperating to increase the size of their market share, then competing individually for clientele.

Mushrush said Red Angus breeders combine their resources to increase the demand for Red Angus genetics beyond what each member could do individually. This includes submitting data for accurate genetic descriptions for commercial producers, as well as coming together for events like convention to share ideas that increase the overall genetic value of Red Angus.

“Yet at the end of the day,” said Mushrush, “it is our own driveway in which we hope that commercial producers turn into in search for Red Angus genetics.”

‘Co-opetition’ in Red Angus extends beyond individual breeders to include other breed associations. For the past 10 years, RAAA has pooled data with the Canadian Angus Association and, last year, combined datasets with the American Simmental Association to increase the accuracy of expected progeny differences (EPDs) for a true multi-breed database of over 9 million animals.

The strength of this database is magnified through the use of Total Herd Reporting (THR) of all progeny— not just those good enough to register—hence eliminating reporting bias from data used to calculate EPDs. Since the implementation of THR in 1995, the Red Angus registry has grown from ranking 12th in the nation to being the fourth largest beef breed today.

“Because of THR, Red Angus’ EPDs have evolved to give our cattle more accurate values,” said RAAA CEO Greg Comstock. “We are continually innovating and simplifying the selection process to provide better, more reliable tools for commercial cattlemen.”

RAAA’s objective is to not only provide a better product for commercial producers, but to also supply services that help customers receive better returns on their cattle.

One of these services, the Feeder Calf Certification Program (FCCP), enrolled a record-breaking 125,525 head in 2011, representing a 13.1 percent annual growth over the past four years. This USDA genetics-, age- and source-verified program will continue to expand and offer more services and profitability opportunities for cattlemen using Red Angus genetics.

To further document the value of Red Angus cattle, RAAA’s marketing department awarded a record 47 GridMaster Awards to Feeder Calf Certification Program-enrolled producers whose cattle reached tremendous carcass yield and quality combinations.

“Red Angus cattle not only produce valuable carcasses, but they are very good at meeting grid specs that increase the profit margin on the rail,” said Myron Edelman, RAAA director of value added programs. — Red Angus Association of America