Beef Improvement Federation recognizes excellence

May 11, 2012
by WLJ

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored a number of people for their contribution to creating excellence in the beef industry. Numerous awards were handed out during the organization’s 44th annual meeting and research symposium held recently in Houston, TX.

Among the more prestigious awards were the Pioneer Award, the Continuing Service Award, and the 2012 Producer of the Year awards for seed stock and commercial producers.

Pioneer Award

The award recognizes individuals who have made lasting contributions to the improvement of beef cattle. It honors those who have had a major role in acceptance of performance reporting and documentation as the primary means to make genetic change in beef cattle. Three individuals received this award this year; Sarah (Sally) Buxkemper, Dr. Donald Franke and Leo McDonnell.

Buxkemper, owner of RX Simbrah, Runnels County, TX, has been in the cattle business for more than 50 years. Working in a maledominated field, Buxkemper’s career has been anything but mediocre.

She was one of the few women to graduate with an animal husbandry degree from Oklahoma State University, and was the first woman to be trained by the American Breeders Service as an AI technician. She has been an early proponent and adopter of genomic technology and aided in the development of a new breed of cattle, the Simbrah, combining Simmental with Brahman, which is resistant to the ailments of its ancestors.

Franke has had a long academic career of research and leading new animal scientists into the realm of beef. His specialty has been breeding and genetics.

Franke’s research has spanned many topics and many breeds: milk yield of Angus and Hereford cattle; the inheritance of sheath area in Brahman cattle; the gene frequency for a spotted pattern in Herefords; and weak calf syndrome in Brahman cattle; and preweaning, carcass and reproductive traits in two-, three- and four-breed rotational crossbreeding systems with Angus, Brahman, Charolais and Hereford cattle, to name just a few.

In his decades of academic leadership, Franke directed 32 masters and 16 doctoral students and authored or co-authored 46 journal articles. He retired from the LSU School of Animal Sciences in August 2008 after 40 years in higher education.

Born and raised in Billings, MT, McDonnell is a fourth-generation rancher who was raised around both feedlot and cow/calf operations. He is known for his knowledge in cattle nutrition and purchased Midland Bull Test—known as “the granddaddy of perfor-mance”—in 1993.

Midland has grown to testing more than 2,000 bulls per year. It has often led the field in introducing breeders and ranchers to additional trait selection. It was one of the early seedstock programs to measure scrotal size, use ultrasound measuring for various carcass qualities, and measure individual feed intake.

Continuing Service Award

The award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the industry. For 2012, four people were honored; Dr. Tom Field, Brian Mc- Culloh, Dr. Larry Olson and Dr. Stephen Hammack.

Field currently serves as the director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska– Lincoln. Prior to this, he served as the executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), headquartered in Denver, CO.

He joined NCBA after spending 18 years as a faculty member leading the Beef Cattle Management Systems in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU).

During his tenure at CSU, Field authored more than 100 articles on beef cattle production and beef industry practices. He served on the NCBA committee to develop the plan for the future needs of the U.S. beef industry, and he has been actively involved in a number of educational programs, quality assurance programs and industry audits. He has been described as a workhorse on the BIF board of directors.

McCulloh was raised on a livestock farm near De- Witt, IA, and has participated in many hands-on realms of the industry. From the beginning, Mc- Culloh has targeted the production of sound, functional, problem-free cattle using available objective breeding tools and selecting for the many phenotypic and behavior traits fundamental to sound animal husbandry.

McCulloh is a past board member of the Wisconsin Angus Association, the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association and the American Angus Association. He also is a past president of the Wisconsin Beef Improvement Association. Locally, he served on the Chamber of Commerce, Agricultural Advisory Panel and the Athletic Booster Board, is a 4-H beef project leader and has served two terms on the BIF board of directors.

Olson was raised on an Oklahoma cattle and wheat farm where he started with four registered Hereford heifers. Recently retired, Olson spent 31 years as Clemson University’s state extension beef cattle specialist at the Edisto Research & Education Center where he wrote the South Carolina Beef Cattle Improvement Program and created its performance records database.

In 1982, he built the grazing-based Edisto Forage Bull Test program and managed 27 tests. Olson helped other states and organizations in the Southeast and Southwest develop grazing-based bull test programs, and he assumed numerous leadership roles in the industry.

Throughout BIF history he has served on numerous standing committees and provided unwavering commitment to the Guidelines Revisions and Producer Awards Selection committees for 20 years.

Hammack served as the beef cattle specialist for District 8 in Stephenville, TX, for 30 years. His primary areas of interest included animal breeding and genetics, but also included ruminant nutrition, growth and health. Hammack decided that a systematic or “ecosystem” approach to improving the genetics of Texas beef cattle was needed. So in the 1990s, he developed an approach he called “Texas Adapted Genetic Strategies.”

Hammack was the Texas AgriLife Extension official representative to BIF for 20 years. Because of his experience and knowledge, after his retirement he was awarded “emeritus” status and was re-employed Sept. 1, 2003, in the half-time position in which he continues to serve.

2012 Producers of the Year

The annual Producers of the Year awards recognize outstanding seedstock and commercial producers. This year’s winners were Sloan and Mollie Williams of V8 Ranch for the seedstock award and Jack and John Maddux of Maddux Cattle Co. for the commercial award.

V8 Ranch is a registered Brahman and Shorthorn cattle operation that was established in 1944. As a hands-on, working family ranch, the Williamses are very proud of the fact that V8 Ranch currently sees three generations of the family working it.

The purebred Brahman herd consists of 300 breeding-age females. Theirs is a primarily closed herd, with a focus on linebreeding exceptional cow families. The purebred Shorthorn herd includes 30 breeding-age females.

In addition to these herds, they currently own and manage a commercial herd of 1,400 females that are part of their Brahman F1 program. While they are known for their purebred herds, their commercial herd is used as a tool to show their commercial bull buyers a practical example of how to use their Brahman cattle in a crossbreeding program.

Maddux Cattle Co. is a cow/calf and yearling cattle operation which was started by the family in 1886.

The ranch has grown today to encompass 40,000 acres of owned and leased land that sustains 2,500 mother cows and 5,000 yearlings. Jack and John Maddux, the third- and fourth-generation owner/operators of the ranch, manage the operation.

Females are bred to calve in April and May. Cow/calf pairs summer on native range, calves are weaned in the early fall and wintered in backgrounding facilities or winter-grazed with supplementation of distillers wet grains. All calves, with the exception of home-raised replacement heifers and bulls, go to leased grass in the spring. Steers and heifers are marketed off grass each August as 900-pound yearlings.

The cow herd is a maternal composite of five breeds: Red Angus, Tarentaise, Red Poll, South Devon and Devon. Cows are British in body type and production levels. Breed selection is aligned with year-round grazing and the low-input system of the ranch. — Beef Improvement Federation