If you noticed a few more pickup trucks and cowboy hats than normal this week, it’s due to the 64th Annual Beef Cattle Short Course at Texas A&M that drew around twenty-two hundred participants from all over the U.S. as well as from many different foreign countries. The goal of the course is to put together material that ranchers need, whether they’re big producers that have been in business a long time or smaller ranchers who may be new to the business. Jason Cleere is the coordinator of the course.
“Now we’ve got new Expected Progeny Differences to where we’re looking at the data on bulls and trying to predict what their calves are going to be like, whether it be carcass or feed efficiency, or those types of things. DNA technology and being able through marker assisted selection to do things like, we’ve got an embryo of a calf that’s not even born, but we can go ahead and predict with great accuracy how that animal is going to produce down the road.”
Cleere points out that improving production at the cow calf level means improving reproduction.
“If you’re averaging eighty-three percent and you’ve got a hundred cows, if we can increase that efficiency and get it up to ninety-two percent calf crop, you’ve jumped it up considerably, and that’s where you can really impact the bottom line. In reality, if a cow is open, she doesn’t have a calf, she doesn’t go on vacation. She costs you, plus you’ve got a loss in revenue.”
Cleere says that new technology and research advances are great but that it all comes with one important caveat.
“Whether it be equipment, whether it be forages, or whether it be cattle, but at the end of the day it has to come down to value to those ranchers. Either it helps them save dollars on the input costs, or it generates more dollars.”
And Cleere believes it’s important that ranchers view themselves as more than cattlemen.
“We produce cattle, but, we are in the food business. Our job every day is producing food and so we’ve got to make sure that the consumer understands that we understand that we are in the food business. That every day when we’re out there on the ranch the things that we do can impact some steak that’s going to be put on somebody’s table or a hamburger that’s going to be fed to my kids or somebody’s grandkids.”