Angus enthusiasts from across the United States and two countries met September 26-28 in Boise, Idaho, for the 2006 National Angus Conference & Tour. The American Angus Association
SM hosted The Great Northwest Gathering, which included a full day of educational seminars, while the Idaho and Oregon Angus Associations hosted the two-day tour. Purina Mills LLC and Alpharma Animal Health were the corporate partners in the event.
“Purina Mills and our friends at Alpharma Animal Health are pleased to have had the opportunity to be a part of another successful National Angus Conference and Tour,” says Rod Nulik, marketing manager for Purina Mills LLC. “The American Angus Association can certainly be proud of not only this event, but the noteworthy accomplishments for the last year in registrations, membership and new initiatives. My only question is, ‘What next?'”
A “Back to Basics” educational program kicked off the event, providing basic information to those in attendance. Rod Wesselman, Association regional manager provided an update on business. Sally Northcutt, Association genetic research director, discussed selection tools available to producers. Ty Groshans, assistant director of commercial programs outlined the process of marketing Angus-sired cattle through the AngusSource® program.
In addition, Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef director of supply development, discussed the production of high quality beef products. He described the Certified
Angus Beef® brand and how it drives demand for Angus genetics. Oklahoma State University associate professor of animal science Brad Morgan, presented the fundamentals producers need to know about carcass grading and evaluation.
The afternoon conference featured a variety of speakers that addressed topics through all stages of production from reproduction to carcass end-product. Mark Enns, Colorado State University, gave an overview of the genetics of reproductive traits and how to improve reproductive efficiency through selection. “With the advent of our large breed association databases we do have the opportunity to not only focus on management and how we feed our cows and take care of their nutrient requirements, but also look at the underlying genetic scale and make improvement in our cow reproductive ability through selection,” Enns stated.
Northcutt shared some of the Association's preliminary research in the areas of heifer pregnancy, stayability and cow longevity, and she stressed the importance of providing the data to the Association so it can continue to produce the genetic selection tools to improve reproduction in the cow herd. “When you hear us say we want your breeding records, that's pretty much slang for saying we want to know everything about that Angus female's life,” Northcutt said. Records of importance include breeding dates, pasture turnout dates, pregnancy-check results, calving information, open females and culling information by disposal codes.
Twig Marston, Kansas State University, provided details on optimum beef production, which he says starts with the cow herd. “We are making beef,” Marston said, “trying to satisfy our consumers in a variety of environments.” He defined the optimum cow as one that can survive in her given environment; can transfer genetics from bull to bull; supports her offspring on her own; and produces salvage value.
Morgan spoke on the economics of carcass value during the afternoon conference. He said though many people continually talk about the ‘bad stuff' in the meat industry, the ‘bad stuff' is what needs fixed. “When the truck leaves the feedlot and heads to the packing facility, producers need to know exactly what is on the truck,” he said as he provided illustrations of a variety of nonconformities in carcasses that need to be remedied in order to increase carcass value – blood splashes, inappropriate carcass size, injection site blemishes, bruises, callous lean and dark cutters.
Mike Kasten, a progressive commercial cattle producer from Millersville, Mo., said genetic selection is the one variable that the commercial producer can control to enhance profit in an industry that is affected by variables including the environment, economy and media. “Genetics are a great risk management tool,” Kasten said calling the seedstock producer the risk reducers. “It's up to you, the risk reducers, to provide us with genetics that we can depend on to reduce as much risk in our operation as possible. To breed cattle that work in the pasture, in the feedlot and in the cooler.”
Nulik challenged the attendees to be leaders in an after-dinner talk. He offered his five key characteristics found in strong leaders. They are ethical, edifying, enthusiastic, encouraging and empowering.
On Wednesday, September 27, seven buses headed east of Boise to kick off the tour. The 101 Ranch, King Hill, Idaho, and Spring Cove Ranch, Bliss, Idaho, hosted meal stops where attendees could look at Angus cattle from their herds and other Idaho herds. Additional stops were made at the Academy of Equine Dentistry in Glenns Ferry and the National Fish Hatchery in Hagerman.
Thursday the tour buses and multiple cars caravanned to the west with stops at Bear Mtn Angus, Melba, Idaho; Malson Angus Ranch, Parma, Idaho; and Thomas Angus Ranch, Baker City, Ore. The Oregon Angus Association also hosted a visit to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City.
In addition to the hosts, numerous other Angus breeders displayed cattle on the tour. Other Idaho producers who displayed cattle included: TLC Angus, Bliss; Frisbie Cattle Co., Melba; Bell Key Angus, Nampa; Blue Sage Acres Ranch, Emmett; WWW Cattle Co., Filer; Nelson Angus Ranch, Salmon; Salmon Tract Angus, Twin Falls; Sugar Top Angus, Jerome; Sawtooth Cattle Co., Gooding; Pristine Springs Angus, Jerome; Feasenhiser Angus, Fruitland; Gardiner Prime Angus Ranch, Porthill; Rocky Mountain Genetics, Jerome; Hillwater Angus, Parma; Weldon Farms, Weiser; and Rick Graves, Buhl.
Oregon producers who showcased their genetics included Holiday Ranch, Terrebonne; Kessler Angus, Milton-Freewater; Bar KD Ranch, Culver; Brinkman Farms, Molalla; White Cattle Co, Burns; JLK Ranches Inc., Baker City; Mount View Cattle Co., Baker City; Buchanan Angus Ranch, Klamath Falls; Gardner Angus, Richland; Oregon Cattle Ranch, Hermiston; Cresent A Ranches, Halfway; and Meadow Acres Angus, Echo.
Also, cattle from 65 Roses Ranch, Villissca, Iowa, were displayed
The American Angus Association organizes the National Angus Conference & Tour annually as an educational tool for its members and those interested in Angus genetics. To hear audio of any of the conference speakers or for more information about the event, log onto www.nationalangusconference.com