Stakeholders anticipate restocking inventory ‘red’

Feb 8, 2013
by WLJ

Red Angus stakeholders gathered in Denver, CO, on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the annual Brain Trust meeting to learn more about the depleted national cowherd inventory and brainstorm ways to restock with Red Angus females.

The current CattleFax numbers indicate approximately 30 million beef cows on inventory in the U.S. today, down 967,000 head from the previous year, and down 3 million head from 2006.

Drought in the southern and western states has played a large role in this reduction, but the world demand for beef has remained steady. The total head of beef cattle inspected for slaughter has decreased, but U.S. producers are still producing the same number of pounds of beef because of increased carcass weights.

While a wet, rainy weather pattern would be the most beneficial to beef cattle producers, Mother Nature is still in control and not tipping her hand to next summer’s precipitation forecast.

According to Joe Frasier of Limon, CO, who sat on the producer panel at Brain Trust, cattlemen can’t rely on the weather. “There’s so much that we can’t control, so we need to focus on what we can manage,” he said. He implements a management plan that includes rotational grazing, forage knowledge and continual monitoring of forage conditions and his cattle’s body condition scores.

Panelist Steve Wooten of Kim, CO, has also discovered that their strict culling criteria was really a survival of the fittest and resulted in their cowherd exhibiting improved foraging and survivability. “As we culled cows for their lack of productivity, we found our incoming replacement heifers were better foragers,” said Wooten. “It’s not uncommon to find our cows utilizing the grasses back in the canyons and up on the benches.”

In the midst of adversity lies opportunity

Brain Trust attendees brainstormed how to help the nation restock the cowherd inventory with Red Angus-influenced females.

One of the top criteria was to sell more Red Angus bulls so commercial producers can begin rebuilding their cowherds with females that are profitable, efficient and who remain in the cowherd for many years.

Heifer development, rather than feeding Red Angus-influence heifers, was another major topic. “The Red Angus cow is an optimally diversified female that is maternal but can still produce a profitable steer,” said Wooten. “Why would we ever want to feed a Red Angus heifer?” “We need to continue to convey the value of the Red Angus-influenced females to commercial producers,” said panelist Joe Mushrush of Strong City, KS. “We are a maternal breed, but maternal traits are the foundation of all revenue-building traits, and that equates to profitability.” — WLJ