Angus breed sets pace for quality

Farm Forum

The American Angus Association’s more than 25,000 members continue to set the pace for the beef cattle industry, bolstered by a growing demand for registered Angus genetics nationwide.

According to reports released by the Association, breeders have registered 7% more Angus animals during the first half of the fiscal year compared to the same time period a year ago. Association reports for March alone showed an 18% boost in registrations compared to the same month in 2015.

“The Angus business is performing really well halfway through the year,” says Allen Moczygemba, Association CEO. “We’re on pace again for an outstanding year in registrations following one of the breed’s best years on record. If we continue this growth, we could see our fifteenth-largest registration level in the history of our 133-year-old organization. That’s significant from a historical perspective since Angus comprises a larger portion of market share today in the total U.S. cattle inventory.”

Breeders saw a collective increase in the number of head sold in sales reported to the Association, October 2015 through March 2016. Despite an expanding marketplace, however, Angus sale averages remain steady, and packer premiums paid for quality genetics have never been greater.

“Sales are going well. They’re a bit softer than last year, but the cattle markets are a lot softer as a whole, and we’ve marketed more animals this year,” Moczygemba says.

Fiscal figures through March show members have sold nearly 35% more registered-Angus females over last year, with nearly 13,000 reported that averaged nearly $5,000 per head. More than 41,000 registered-Angus bulls were sold for the same period, which is an increase of nearly 20%. The sale average for bulls is almost $6,000 per head.

Together, sales of registered-Angus genetics has resulted in more than $336 million in gross sales, up nearly $10 million over year-ago levels.

Another indication that Angus breeders remain committed to herd improvement: Total weight records submitted through the Association’s Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR) are up nearly 6%, and the number of females enrolled in the organization’s inventory-based reporting system MaternalPlus has grown so far this year by 138%. MaternalPlus is a voluntary program that allows breeders to access in-depth reports on reproductive and fertility performance within the cow herd while also building the foundation for Association-developed reproductive and longevity selection tools in the future.

“The American Angus Association’s leadership position continues its growth,” says Jim Sitz, Montana Angus breeder and Association president and chairman of the board. “The members and leaders of the organization have a historically progressive spirit and a healthy tradition of exploring opportunity while adopting the most advanced technological capabilities.”

The Association continues to make strides in genomic-enhanced selection tools. In mid-April, Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) released its fifth calibration of genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs). This latest release from AGI allows producers to make more accurate genetic decisions than ever before, Moczygemba notes, and the technology continues to evolve and add value at various levels of the supply chain.

The availability of commercial genomic tests like GeneMax Advantage allows Angus cow-calf producers to better select the females that will contribute to their operation’s future by providing less guesswork and more insight into how replacement females will perform. In fact, AGI is working with scientists at Zoetis to update the GeneMax family of tests, with some updates and new features expected for release mid-summer.

Meanwhile, Angus Media continues to advance how producers market their seedstock, with new tools that use audience engagement data to make more precise, more valuable advertising and promotional decisions across all media; and Angus Foundation continues its outstanding contributions toward education, youth and research.

Finally, the rising value of the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand is evident in recent survey results that show packers pay Angus producers $1 million per week for hitting the brand’s target. A survey of CAB-licensed packers Cargill, JBS, National and Tyson showed they paid a record $51.8 million in grid premiums in 2015, and more than $550 million over 20 years.

According to the latest data, the annual 3.6 million cattle accepted for the brand now account for 16% of all North American fed beef.

“The growing desire of consumers for a quality eating experience and the continued efforts of our members across the country makes for an extremely strong market for registered Angus animals,” Moczygemba says. “With more females in the U.S. herd, there’s a much bigger need for bulls in the marketplace; we anticipate the need for somewhere between 65,000 and 80,000 Angus bulls. That’s significant demand for quality genetics, and Angus members have the animals to provide it.”