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Fall Focus 2019

Two hundred people  from 28 states and 2 Canadian provinces gathered on August 23-28 for ranch tours, conversations, educational session, and board action

By Jackie Atkins, Director of Science and Education

What a great time we had in the Little Apple during the 2019 Fall Focus event.  Two hundred Simmental and beef industry enthusiasts from 28 states and 2 Canadian provinces gathered for ranch tours, cattle displays, an educational symposium, ASA Board Meeting, and lots of social interaction.  

Local breeders including the Gleason family, Sunflower Genetics; the Mertz family, River Creek Farms; Houck family, Rock Creek Ranch; Brunner family, Cow Camp Ranch; Irvine Family, Irvine Ranch; and the Hoffman and Klein family, Hoffman Simmentals, opened their doors for tours on Friday. Herdbook users gathered at the Manhattan Conference Center Friday afternoon to learn from ASA’s Jannine Story, Sheldon Ross, and Riley Foster about tips and tricks when managing records, pulling reports, and running DNA testing through Herdbook.  Followed by a cattle display and dinner at the Stanley Stout Center hosted by the Kansas Simmental Association (KSA). 

The educational day kicked off Saturday with an animal breeding session from Drs. Bob Weaber, Megan Rolf, Jenny Bormann, Lauren Hyde, and Wade Shafer.  The Kansas State University (K-State) faculty updated the crowd on potential approaches to measuring genetics of fertility including a new study looking into male fertility led by this K-State group.  Any ASA breeders willing to share bull soundness exam (BSE) records are encouraged to reach out to Jackie Atkins (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  The ASA is collaborating with Dr. Rolf and colleagues to better understand the genetics of various male fertility measurements including BSE records.  Bormann and Rolf also presented information on additional novel traits they are studying including water intake, methane emissions, and foot/leg scores.  Dr. Lauren Hyde updated the audience on accomplishments made in the genetic evaluation since the release of IGS Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation powered by BOLT on May 5, 2018, followed by questions answered by Hyde and Shafer about the genetic evaluation. 

Saturday afternoon, attendees discussed the role the show ring plays in the genetic selection of beef cattle with five panelists, Dr. Bob Hough, Dr. Scott Schaake, John Griswold, Tim Smith, and Donnell Brown and moderated by Dr. Wade Shafer.   A conversation including opposing views was heard and discussed in an open and respectful manner. Later in the afternoon, a group of feeder-calf-focused speakers including Charly Cummings from Superior Livestock Auctions, Craig Uden from Darr Feedlot, and Dr. Ken Odde from Kansas State University talked about helping commercial customers market cattle, what calves are profitable in the feed yard, and a study of decades of superior livestock data on what the market is telling us about value-added programs.  

Two unique local speakers were special keynotes from the KSA this year.  Coach Bill Snyder, long-time coach of Kansas State University football spoke about his life raised by his single mom, his career path that led him to the K-State Football team, and how he brought a team from zero wins to champions with incremental successes and improving mindset.  Dr. Kenneth Burton coordinator of the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) being built in Manhattan, KS. The new NBAF facility will replace the research facility in Plum Island dedicated to studying animal infectious diseases. Saturday night, the KSA and its sponsors hosted a memorable evening at the Flint Hills Discovery Center Saturday night.

The Board Meeting spread over the next two days covering committee meetings from the five standing committees, staff reports, and special guests including Eric Grant and Crystal Albers from the Grant Company to share their marketing/messaging efforts this year, Darin Johnson, Holstein Association USA, to talk about HolSimTM, and Tigger Erhardt to highlight ASA and Working Ranches relationship in podcasts and radio shows.

A BIG thank you to KSA with the lead coordinator, Dr. Michael Dikeman, President, Kelli Cox, and dinner coordinator, Abram Mertz.  The group of Kansas breeders were so welcoming and put together an impressive showcase of breeders and cattle in their state.  

You can watch the videos from this year’s talks or see previous presentations at  We hope you can join us for Fall Focus 2020 in Blacksburg, Virginia, co-hosted by the Virginia Simmental Association.   


Panel Discussion: The Showring's Role in the Beef Industry
Moderated by Dr. Wade Shafer. Panelists include: Dr. Bob Hough, Dr. Scott Shaake, Donnell Brown, Tim Smith, and John Griswold
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