PA Recognizes Dedicated and Driven Data-Reporting Cattle Operations
For over a decade, the Performance Advocate (PA) program recognizes cattle producers who remain committed to data reporting. The 2020 program marks the first year with new guidelines to identify top-notch data reporting that fuels ASA’s genetic evaluation.
Focused on submitting records on at least 90% of the contemporary group, a Dedicated Performance Advocate submits records on at least 8 of the 14 traits and a Driven Performance Advocate submits records on at least 10 of the 14 traits. Performance Advocates listed in this issue are for the fall 2018 and spring 2019 calf crops. The herds featured below hit the heightened benchmark of collecting complete records on 10 to 14 traits.
Performance Advocates listed in this issue are for the fall 2018 and spring 2019 calf crops. The herds featured below hit the heightened benchmark of collecting complete records on 10 to 14 traits. These are herds highly driven to data recording and reporting. Don’t just take our word for it, the data tells us.
Clear Springs Cattle Company
Located on the Glacial Ridge in west-central Minnesota, Clear Springs Cattle Company began operation in 2011. Previously, Jim Wulf and his family raised Limousin seedstock with three of his brothers at Wulf Limousin, 25 miles west of their current location. The Limousin operation, started by the late Leonard Wulf, was always based around using sound science to breed and manage cattle for increased profitability. The tradition has continued at Clear Springs with the collection of a multitude of phenotypes and genomic data on every calf. Rotational grazing and cover crops are used extensively to better utilize forage with the cows grazing past Christmas most years.
When Jim Wulf made the decision to venture on his own and switch breeds, Simmental was an easy choice as he had grown up in 4-H with Tom Hook, Hook Farms, Tracy, MN. Fittingly, Hooks were the first stop in a search to find the type and quality of cattle Wulf appreciates. Wulf shares, “We are blessed to have become great friends with Tom over the years and have been working jointly with him since 2015 to put on the Bred for Balance sale the second Friday each February. Together, along with a few more like-minded breeders, we will be selling around 120 bulls and 40 females February 12, 2021.”
Working with Hook has taken Clear Springs’ focus on the evaluation of genetics to a new level. Wulf continues, “I am thankful for his willingness to share his abundant knowledge about contemporary groups, EPDs, and performance data collection with me and look forward to continuing learning and striving to breed more profitable cattle for the beef industry.”
Green Valley Farm
Green Valley Farm transitioned from a small dairy operation to a commercial Hereford cow-calf operation in 1988. The following year, the first purebred Simmental bull was purchased, and Brian Harris and his father, Jon, purchased two purebred Simmental cow-calf pairs. Using the breed up program for several years with different bulls, the operation soon had 20 registered Simmental cows, mostly purebreds.
For many years, the focus was phenotype and trend-style breeding. Harris shares, “We had a lot of fun showing and promoting our program but felt there was a better economical way to make even a better product with more consistent marketing opportunities. In 2009, we decided to focus more on the commercial demands of carcass value and maternal traits. We lost my father in 2012, when we were starting to see the value of the direction we chose.”
Harris continues, “We have been extremely blessed to have ongoing support and wonderful friendship from some of the very best industry leaders in the country to help us reach our goals and push for new ones. We have been a partner in the Great Lakes Beef Connection Bull Sale going on 11 years and sell a few select bred heifers each fall.”
The cow herd is mainly SimAngus™ with a few purebred females. In addition to collecting phenotypes, Green Valley Farm collects genomic data on every animal and uses genotypes to identify the best genetic value through selected matings.
He concludes, “We have witnessed some amazing changes over the years in our herd and the breed, overall. The data technology has been extremely helpful. Whenever you can take the guesswork out of something, it’s value added. Our SimAngus cows work hard for us every year! We are very honored to be recognized as a part of the Performance Advocate Program.”
Hays Land & Cattle
Hays Land & Cattle, owned by Craig and Becky Hays, Pierce, Colorado, is a 120-head SimAngus cow herd primarily run in southern Iowa. Around half of the calf crop is kept for replacement females or sale bulls each year.
Though they currently rely on outside day-to-day cattle management, when it comes time to collect performance data, it is a family affair. Their children, Lindsay, Jessica, and Cody, all feel right at home working cattle. Craig adds, “‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure,’ is an adage we firmly believe in.”
Over the years, the list of traits they measure continues to grow. Many of the new Performance Advocate traits have been a mainstay for their operation, and data collection continues past yearling measurements through the life cycle of the animals. Mature cows are measured and scored for feet, height, weight, udders, and hair coat.
Though most people recognize Hays Land & Cattle through their involvement with carcass ultrasound, they have individually tested the calf crop for feed efficiency since 2008. Carcass data is collected on the feedlot cattle in years of retained ownership. Over the years, the operation has participated in various research projects.
Hays laughs, “We are self-proclaimed data junkies. Measuring as many traits as possible is what allows us to identify differences in our cow herd.”
He continues, “EPDs and indexes are key to making mating, selection, and marketing decisions. Data feeds those EPDs and Indexes. DNA testing complements the data collection. We believe data-driven decisions allow the herd to move farther faster with fewer mistakes. The Performance Advocate program is a great way to encourage that mindset for all ASA producers. We appreciate the Performance Advocate Program and what it means to the breed. Anyone interested in making genetic progress, in various traits, should strive to be a Performance Advocate.”
Miller Cattle Co.
Straddling the northern portion of the Missouri Ozark Mountains, Miller Cattle Co. maintains a 160-head SimAngus™ seedstock operation split into concise spring and fall calving groups. For the past 15 years, bulls are primarily marketed through the RA Brown Ranch with a few sold off the ranch near Olean. Additionally, the Millers have a robust freezer beef business, selling about 35 “calf-fed” freezer beef each year.
Data is collected on almost everything from birth weights to yearling weights, bull ultrasound, mature cow data, to carcass traits on fed cattle. Chuck Miller explains, “When we track data, selection decisions are easier, and we offer more integrity and value to each bull and bred heifer we sell.”
The entire cow herd is low-density-DNA tested and all females are reported in the Total Herd Enrollment program. Chuck and Christi Miller’s commitment to the ASA is deep-seated, “CHR allowed us to get to ground zero, parent-verify each cow and have all females genotyped, and in turn, improved the accuracy of the EPDs.”
They are serious about the Performance Advocate Program and have had perfect scores in that program for the last several seasons.
“We believe that Total Herd Enrollment is paramount to the success of ASA’s data system and have always reported each and every calf born. We truly believe that the integrity of our data is critical to the success of our program and that of our customers’ programs. The Performance Advocate Program lends serious credibility to the fact that our spring and fall calving herds are among the most balanced/elite herds in the nation in terms of Dollar Indexes.”
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