Sauk Valley Angus of Rock Falls, Illinois was the recipient of the Beef Improvement Federation Purebred Producer of the Year Award at the 2006 BIF Research Symposium and Annual Meeting held in Mississippi on Thursday, April 20. Sauk Valley Angus is owned by Gary and Kathy Sandrock and managed by Jay King, Ben Sandrock, and Matt Sandrock and consists of 480 registered Angus cattle and 190 commercial Angus females used in the recipient program.
Along with the cattle operation is Sandrock Farms that comprise over 10,000 acres of row crops, vegetables, and forages. The row crops include corn, soybeans, and wheat, while the vegetable production consists of sweet corn, peas and lima beans. The grazing and pastureland is built around seasonal rotation of pastures and specialty crop production.
Raising cattle and the breeding of Angus seedstock has been active into what is now the seventh generation. Gary's grandfather Alfred Sandrock and Kathy's grandfather W. Wilson King's individual farming and livestock operations bordered each other in the early family history. Today the land and cattle continue to be a leader in Illinois under the leadership of great-grandson's Ben and Matt Sandrock. All are a testimony to today's Sauk Valley Angus motto: Our History Your Success.
One of the key elements in the Sauk Valley Angus operation is their performance record keeping system comprising of the Sesame Database program which was customized by Sauk Valley Angus to utilize the herd information in a more efficient manner. This system is supplemented by the Angus Information Management program developed by the American Angus Association.
This Sesame Database contains the entire production record for every breeding female in the herd. Not only is individual performance information secured, but also it shows every breeding date, every sire bred to, every calving date, and all the calving information for the life of the dam. Through this system they can make note of any information pertinent to the cow to help in the analysis of her performance. From this database custom breeding, calving, health, etc. reports can be printed. This program makes it incredibly easy to get all the information and history on a particular animal in a matter of seconds.
Since it is elite genetics that the breeding firm offers to other purebred and commercial operations, they continually search for superior bloodlines. This is verified by not only using the very best performance sires through AI, but also purchasing an interest in two very popular performance bulls; BR Midland, that topped the Midland Bull Test Station and sold for a record $202,000 for two-thirds interest, and WCC Special Design L309, and Sauk Valley's newest herd sire Circle S 338 Right Time 4074.
The Sauk Valley firm has a very aggressive AI program with 84 percent of their calf crop sired by AI sires. This is accomplished by synchronization of their cowherd using a three-shot/CIDR program and then time breeding. The cows are retained in a breeding pen for 25 days and are bred for a second time if they come back into heat. In order to move forward with genetics improvement, they have implemented a very aggressive embryo program. The very elite cows in SVA are flushed each year, along with the purchase of a limited number of outside embryos. These embryos are placed in their 120 head commercial Angus herd.
Sauk Valley Angus offers the majority of their genetics through a Fall Production Sale, comprising mostly of females, and their Spring Bull Sale. Headlining their bull sale are their Denver Pen of Bulls that consistently sell into a number of purebred and commercial herds throughout the United States.
Sauk Valley Angus continually strives to work with their customer base to make sure the genetics provided improve the customer performance and profitability. One of the programs that they developed is the Sauk Valley sired Feeder Calf Sale at the Walnut Sale Barn. This sale will be held for the fifth year in 2006 and has secured some of the top feeder calf prices in the area. They also cooperate with a commercial company to provide a preconditioning program.
Another service they provide is their Sauk Valley Herd Builders Program to partner with new producers in development of their herds. Also offered is a Youth Incentive Program for 4-H and FFA members purchasing females in their sale and then winning at local, state, or national shows.
Another unique feature of their operation is the “Sauk Valley Angus Country Store” that offers Certified Angus Beef product either direct from their store or via mail order. Not only is beef offered but various cooking utensils and cookbooks, etc. to promote the use of high quality beef.
The firm has been very active in leadership positions in the local community, state, and national beef cattle organizations. Just a few of these include the local and state Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Illinois Ag Coalition. In addition, members of the family are active in the local Young Farmers group, and are currently officers and/or directors of the Northern Illinois Angus Association, Illinois Angus Association, and American Angus Association.
The Purebred Producer Award has been presented to outstanding seedstock firms throughout the United States and Canada since 1972. There has only been 35 firms selected for this prestigious award since 1972 with many being large seedstock ranches in the plain and western parts of the United States. Sauk Valley Angus is the first purebred firm to receive the award in Illinois.
The University of Illinois Extension and Illinois Beef Association serve as the sponsoring organization for the Beef Improvement Federation from Illinois.