Barzona Bulletin A Publication of the Barzona Breeders Association of America Mature Cow Weight Considerations By David Lalman, Ph.D., Eric Devuyst, Ph.D., and Damona Doye, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University T he impact of mature cow weight on cow efficiency and ranch profitability in the United States has been discussed and debat- selected for more muscling over time while holding frame size in check. In fact, the genetic trend for ribeye area in most breeds of cattle indicates that the race for more muscle within each breed started in the 1980s and has accelerated in recent years.
According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, cow carcass weights are increasing at a rate of about 3.75 pounds per year. Adjusted to a live-weight basis, this suggests that cow weights are increasing at an average rate of about 6.9 pounds per year. At the same time, Angus and Hereford breeders have been collecting mature cow weight data and calculating expected progeny differences (EPDs) for this trait for several years now. In both breeds, the genetic trend indicates a gradual increase in mature cow weight. These trends lead to an interesting question: If frame size is stable or gradually declining, what physical characteristics are changing that might explain the continued, albeit slow, climb in cow weights? The most logical answer is that beef cattle producers have
ed since the late 1800s. While there are many factors that influence the efficiency and profitability of cow-calf operations, cow size remains an important consid- eration. Aggressive selection for mature frame size occurred throughout the U.S. beef cattle industry during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Around the late 1980s, frame size stabilized and then began to decline through the early 2000s. More moderate frame size, compared to that seen 30 years ago, is evident around the country. Nevertheless, indicators sug- gest that our nation’s beef cow herd con- tinues to increase in mature weight over time.
Selection for more rapid growth in cattle (higher weaning and yearling weights) began in the ‘70s and ‘80s and has continued ever since. With increased genetic capacity for growth combined with (until just recently) little to no selection pressure against feed intake, we have created a cattle population with greater appetite. Most feedyard consultants will tell you that cattle on feed today simply eat more feed for a longer period of time than they did 30 years ago. This is one reason carcass weights and finished cattle weights have increased so dramatically over the past 30 years. Generally speaking, along with greater appetite you get greater visceral organ mass. That is to say, cattle have larger organs, particularly liver, rumen and intestines, relative to their body weight than they used to have. This too could be part of the explanation for steady increases in mature cow weights. In an attempt to quantify the relationship of mature cow weight to calf weaning weight in commercial cow-calf operations, we evaluated 3,041 records collected from three different operations. In the data set, cow weights ranged from 635 to 1,922 pounds and calf weaning weight ranged from 270 to 775 pounds. First of all, there was not a strong relationship between cow size and calf weaning weight. In other words, there was a lot of variation in weaning weight, and cow size explained only a small Continued on page 4 ›
By Dodd Carmichael, WildNGrazy Farm, BBAA President
F all has finally begun here in central Texas and it was a long time coming. We have been in a drought and heat situa- tion here for the last three months. Last year was rough, too. Hay is very expensive, but thankfully, we finally had some relief and had 3 inches of rain last Thursday. This is a good reminder that we exist in an industry where we lack control over many of the variables affecting our success. Not only do we have to consider weather risks, but competition for the consumer dollar for non-meat substitutes such as Beyond Meats and Impossible Burger are things we have to consider. The limited number of buyers in the cattle market and the market power wielded by the four big packers in the beef markets are also a constant concern. In addition, we are dealing with a trade war that has reduced our customers’ abroad. There are 1.3 billion potential customers withinChina alonewho are affected by this. All things considered I’m surprised the cattle market has held up as well as it has as we approach winter. What can we do to sustain or improve profitability in this environment? Here is what some of our members do to improve their profitability: • The Havens and Heinz families in Iowa have been feeding their calves with the corn they raised on their farm, providing quality, source-verified beef to their local customers. This allows them to recapture the margins that the big packers and retailers have taken. • For many years, Raymond Boykin has been sending his calves from Alabama to Weichman Feedyard in Kansas to finish them. That feedyard knows the Barzona breed and how they perform. This allows Raymond to capture premiums on his calf crop because the Barzonas grade out Choice and have nice yields.
• We have been rotationally grazing our herd atWildNGrazy Farm for more than a decade. This provides more even grazing, eliminates parasite pressure and improves pastures in the process. We also sell grass-fed beef, providing higher margins for some of the cattle we raise. Sometimes it’s just wise to learn from the environmental conditions. I’ve learned that the heat has a purifying effect on your operation. Although painful at the time, drought exposes weakness in your operation, which you can address.You discover you have some cattle that can handle tough conditions better than others. You are forced to make tough culling decisions because it’s too expensive to ignore the facts. You also discover that even money can’t force you to sell a 19-year-old cow that has never missed, even though she was a little slow breeding back last year. You discover you have friends and family who show up to help when times are tough. And, you learn that you will survive and be better than you were before. So, the moral of the story is: 1. Learn from your associates and continuously strive to improve margins and profitability. 2. Take a cue from the Barzona. Let the tough environment make you better. 3. Even when you’re under intense pressure, let your heart and humanity survive. I want to add a postscript to this message - Two weeks after I let that 19-year-old cow out of the lot, she got down and couldn’t get up. I said goodbye, but I had to have my son come to put her out of her misery. Ol’ Floppy Horns will never leave this place and letting her skip that trip to the sale barn was the best $300 I ever lost. BB
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Alvin & Karen Havens 2429 Orange Ave. Greenfield, IA 50849
2 | BARZONA BULLETIN
Marketing Outside the Box
By Alecia Heinz, Golden Hz Farm, BBAA Secretary I t’s the time of year to wean, start thinking about selling calves and calculating each cow’s statistics to see who stays anoth- er year, and who needs to leave. Almost everyone I talk to dreads taking their calves to a sale barn. No-name red calves just don’t bring enough to make the bank happy. So, I would like to explore why we are so poor at selling our cattle for what they’re worth and give you some out-of-the-box ideas to help alleviate the cash flow crunch.
Marketing 101: A person has to see something 6-10 times before they distinctly remember it. So, repetition is key. And I don’t necessarily mean running the same ad in the same magazine for a decade. I mean keep that website updated. Change out pictures in your ads. Shuffle text around. Different details catch different people, so don’t cut yourself short by being boring. Same goes for social media pages, and it doesn’t always have to be about your cows. Post a funny ranch-related meme, candid photos of your dog, anything to keep your page title popping up in a potential customer’s news feed. Target a Market: Waiting around for someone to call or knock on our door hasn’t worked in the last 10 years, and it’s not going to get any better. If your target market involves the word “any,” you’re not being specific enough. Pick a region or specific demographic and TARGET them. If someone does call or stop by, NEVER lose that contact information and don’t be afraid to call them the next year. Call ‘em every year. Lord knows I’ve heard every excuse for how they “lost my number,” but as long as I never lose theirs, I still have a potential customer. Do the same thing if they make a purchase. Ask how they like the animals. Get updated pictures. Personal customer service is a lost art in the cattle industry, and we need to start focusing on it again. Trust me, customers appreciate it. Numbers: People can’t just look at a cow anymore and know if she’s good or not. That’s why they had to invent expected progeny differences (EPDs). Any dummy knows three is less than four. No matter how you measure success in your herd, calculate it and know it. Whether it’s weaning weight, number of calves weaned, pounds of calf per pounds of cow – I don’t care what you measure – just do the math. Generalizations don’t work. “Low birth weight” means way too many things to too many people. A low birth weight Angus at 70 pounds can’t touch our low birth weight Barzonas at 50 pounds. Our cows are, on average, smaller in size so make sure you can do percentages. A 1,500-pounds finished Angus gaining 5 pounds per day is doing the exact same work your 1,200-pound Barzona is doing gaining 4.5 pounds. Did you know if you gain 1 percent in feed efficiency, you can lose 3 percent average daily gain (ADG) and still make the same amount of money? A very high-rated pen in the industry will grade 15 percent Prime while an average pen has 0 percent Prime. That makes all of us above average already! Image: Pictures are important, and while a candid photo of your old bottle calf is cute and gets lots of attention, be more careful about sale pictures. Professional photographers are best but let’s face it, that probably isn’t happening out in our pastures and lots. Instead, just take some care and use your phone. Calves need to be properly posed – square front legs with the closest hind leg slightly behind and standing on level ground.
Keep the sun behind you and shining on your target for clarity, and don’t be afraid to take 25 pictures. Only two will turn out good anyway. Videos are also a good option, especially if there is a phenomenal pedigree but the calf itself looks plain. Let it travel and show working ability. We all know that 30-day weaned calves are a plus, and if we put in the effort to vaccinate them, the price is usually higher. You may want to hang out and watch your buyers for a week or two before you sell. Weight brackets vary between buyers, so check what weights are the most sought after in your area. Again, do the math and see if a 500-pound calf actually grosses more than a 400-pound calf at their respective prices. Outside the Box: Now it’s time to get creative. Talk to folks. Get ideas. Modify as necessary, prepare and implement your new goal. At convention we had a nice chat from a kid who had already modified his plans three different times to make his business work the way he wanted. Grass-fed beef is a big deal,
Continued on page 5 ›
WWW.BARZONA.COM • FALL 2019 | 3
Mature CowWeights Continued from page 1
forage is generally the cheapest feed resource on a ranch, the conversion of forage (even high-quality forage) to cow weight gain is low. Consequently, the increased cull cow income will be at least somewhat offset by the economic cost (although nearly impossible to see or measure) of developing or growing the added cow weight. By feeding forage to grow large cows to their mature weight, stocking rates must be decreased relative to lighter-weight cows. Today, compared to 30 years ago, the industry hasmanymore tools available to manage and manipulate mature cow size in a beef herd. Consequently, a cattle breeder can target a mature cow size goal and gradually work toward that goal through sire selection decisions and culling. Industry-wide, the gradual increase in mature cow weight is likely a reflection of continued aggressive selection for growth and muscle. These traits have system efficiency benefits during the post-weaning phases and particularly during the finishing phase when the environment is essentially unlimited from a nutritional perspective. However, during the production year, cows spend considerable time in a nutritional environment that is at or below their maintenance requirements. In other words, the environment is substantially more limiting in the cow-calf stage of beef production compared to the finishing phase. Sorting out the value of benefits in one stage of production and weighing those against the potential drawbacks in another stage is a real challenge. Nevertheless, it is apparent that mature cow size is one trait that should not be ignored in this process. BB Editor’s note: David Lalman, Ph.D., is a professor of beef cattle production systems at Oklahoma State University (OSU). Eric DeVuyst, Ph.D., is a professor in the OSU Department of Agri- cultural Economics. Damona Doye, Ph.D., is a Regents profes- sor and Rainbolt chair in agricultural finance at OSU. This article was reprinted with permission from The Ledger , Summer, 2017.
REGISTERED, PUREBRED BARZONA Breeder since 1986 Certainly, larger mature cow size generates more cull cow income, and this is considered in previously mentioned economic evaluations. One factor often overlooked when crediting larger cows with increased cull income is that additional cow weight is not free to begin with. For example, when comparing 1,000-pound cows to 1,400-pound cows and a $70 per hundredweight cull cow price, the 1,400-pound cows generate an additional $280 at culling time. However, the additional 400 pounds of growth requires additional nutrients through the development stages and through about 6-7 years of age, when they finally reach their mature weight. While portion of this variation. Perhaps this is a good time to point out that in almost any cow herd there will be small cows that are individually efficient (relatively high weaning weight for their mature size) and there will be large cows that are individually efficient. Nevertheless, although the relationship was not strong, it was statistically significant and positive. We found that for each 100 pounds of additional cow weight, calf weaning weight increased by an average of 6.7 pounds. Arkansas data published in 2006 indicated that this relationship was 15 pounds of added weaning weight for each 100 pounds of additional cow weight. Climate may be important in this relationship. We suspect, without solid evidence, that in challenging environments larger cows will wean calves weighing about 6 pounds more per each 100 pounds of additional cow. In less restrictive environments, larger cows would be expected to wean calves weighing 15 or more pounds per each 100 pounds of additional cow weight. “Less restrictive” can be interpreted as higher-quality, more abundant forage, lower stocking rate (allowing the cattle to select a better quality diet), more harvested forage feeding, more supplementation, more winter annual grazing, less heat or cold stress, less parasite exposure and so on. Based on the evidence we have available, it appears that each additional 100 pounds of cow weight generates about $6 to $20 of added calf income, depending on the calf market.We estimate that the addition of 100 pounds of cowweight costs around $40 to $50 per year to maintain. To take this a step farther, in several published economic evaluations of varying cow size and a given land resource, smaller and moderate cows have a financial advantage for three primary reasons: 1) higher stocking rates for smaller cows result in more pounds weaned per acre; 2) lighter calves sell for a higher price per hundredweight; and 3) the increased revenues from added weaning weights do not offset the higher feed costs of larger cows. Obviously, items 2 and 3 in this list assume little to no market discount for smaller- framed calves that may have lower growth rate and are likely to have lighter carcass weights.
Weichman Feedyard, L.P.
We have more than 30 years experience finishing cattle and more than 10 years experience finishing Barzona cattle. We offer a value-based marketing systemwith a history of premiums on Barzona cattle. Give us a call (620) 874-5231
Raymond Boykin, Jr. (334) 430-0563 • email@example.com 8727 Lydia Lane • Montgomery, AL 36117
4030 Highway 83 North Scott City, KS 67671
4 | BARZONA BULLETIN
Marketing Outside the Box Continued from page 3
RULES FOR ADVERTISING REIMBURSEMENT • Current paid full membership (can be paid anytime prior to reimbursement) $75. • Must include a receipt and a proof copy of the ad. • It MUST have the assocation website on it ( www.barzona.com ). • BBAA will reimburse half of the advertising fee, max of $100 annually. Can be done on multiple ads if the maximum is not reached. Contact Alecia Heinz, BBAA Executive Secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. but calves take two years to grow. Steaks are good money, but the supply isn’t there. So, he changed to paying ranchers extra for well-fleshed cull cows and sold 20-pound boxes of grass-fed burger to customers who were more than happy to get it. Many of us already sell a random beef privately; perhaps modifying his business model might work for more of us. I know as soon as a nearby locker gets USDA inspection certified: I am going to be looking at doing so. No matter what, we are all in this together. Don’t be afraid to call and chat with somebody about their cattle, Barzona or not. In larger quantities, perhaps we should all get together and make a Barzona Beef Coop where all the calves are “sold” to a group and run through a specified feedyard or two. If somebody
Purebred Barzona Bulls Virgin 2 year-olds and yearlings, perfect for improving your herd by cross-breeding with Angus, Hereford, Limousin & Charolais. Hybrid vigor resulting in superior preformance calves with LBW and rapid growth. Heat tolerant, disease resistant, hardy with gentle dispositions, guaranteed. Will work with you on delivery terms. Walking Stick Ranch Ron & Peggy Erjavec (719) 947-3645 • www.walkingstickranch.com Boone, Colorado Ad Index Bard Cattle Co.. ..........................................6 F & F Cattle Company.................................2 Golden H Farm............................................2 Raymond Boykin Jr......................................4 Weichman Feedyard L.P..............................4 Walking Stick Ranch....................................5 WildNGrazy Fram........................................6 No matter what, we are all in this together. Don’t be afraid to call and chat with somebody about their cattle, Barzona or not. Become an expert in areas that pertain to you. Don’t be afraid to trade potential buyer contact information with other breeders. Maybe give out kickbacks for recommendations – if person A buys a bull because breeder B told them about you, send a thank you card and $50. Once somebody buys heifers, they will need an outcross bull and even replacements eventually. For all those that don’t make seedstock, a new way to market our calves away from the sale barn might mean we keep more of our own nickels and dimes. It’ll all come back around, and we might as well find a way to share the wealth. BB is going to make money on feeders, why not let it be us and cut out some middlemen? If a rancher has calves that grade really well, why not designate a maximum profit per head, and give the extra back to the rancher who produced them? This could be added incentive for even commercial ranchers to run their calves with us. More so, what if they had to be a member of the Barzona Breeders Association of America to sell to the coop? The ideas could be endless. Bull and Heifer Tests: The only thing I hate with these are the requirements for bulls tomake the sale. The tests in Iowa are finally getting away from huge rate-of-gain requirements and are looking more for temperament and structure. We will be participating in a heifer test this year but retaining ownership. If all goes well, we will do so next year but have the heifers run through the sale. Minimum price is $1,100 so I can’t see that it would be a losing proposition, and the publicity never hurts my feelings.
WWW.BARZONA.COM • FALL 2019 | 5
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Wild N Grazy Farm
FOUNDATION HERD BREEDING STOCK Since 1974
(254) 205-0360 • email@example.com Bynum, Texas Dodd & Sonda Carmichael
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Semen available on a number of older bulls. Females available periodically private treaty. Foster, OK 73434 (217) 649-5616 Bard Cattle Co. Nancy Bard Nunn 18800 E. County Road 1603