Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium Unites and Informs Producers

Hannah Frobose
Red Angus Association of America

DUBUQUE, Iowa – This year’s National Red Angus Convention, hosted in Dubuque, Iowa, featured the Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium which allowed members to hear from industry professionals about opportunities to increase profit in their herds. The symposium theme, “Navigating the River to Profitability,” effectively summarizes the insight that speakers offered.

Troy Marshall of Marshall Cattle Co., kicked off this year’s symposium asking the audience five questions relating to the Red Angus industry: where are we, what lays ahead, where do we want to go, do we have the right crew and are we on the right course? Covering recent trends, he reflected on where the industry has been and discussed where it is going, emphasizing the economic factors that are driving current and future needs.

“The exciting thing to me is that we have the tools to address every one of these needs,” said Marshall. “The value of genetics is going to become even more important in the future and we’re going to have genetics that will not only change the production side of things, but also the efficiency, marketing and even address consumer preferences.”

Dr. Ken Odde, Kansas State University, continued the morning’s discussion. He highlighted Superior Livestock Auction and Merck Animal Health’s data while crediting the reputation that Red Angus Association of America members have established for their cattle.

“You folks belong to a breed that has tremendous respect from a maternal standpoint,” said Odde. “That’s a really strong position to be in. You can attribute that to a lot of different things, but one in particular is a really strong set of breeders for such a long period of time.”

Dr. Tony Bryant, head nutritionist for Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, started the afternoon’s discussion of ideal feeder cattle, focusing on factors that influence a successful feedyard such as health, consistency and uniformity. He further discussed the increasing role that consumers play in influencing production practices, and how that will impact future market trends.

“Consumers want to know where the cattle come from, how they’re treated and if they had a good home,” said Bryant. “Natural, organic, antibiotic-free, vegetarian – these are huge percentage increases that show the trend. Yet, in the grand scheme, traditional beef is still a big percentage.”

Bob Scherer, director of procurement for Tyson Foods, continued the discussion with “Designing the Best Finished Cattle.” While referencing the history and current state of Tyson, Scherer maintained that the driving factor of the fed cattle industry is quality.

“We’re looking for pounds, we’re looking for efficiently yielding animals, but more importantly, we’re looking for quality,” Scherer said.

The symposium concluded with a live ultrasound demonstration from The CUP Lab LLC. Members gathered to watch as Mark Henry, CUP Lab president, performed ultrasound demonstrations on cattle provided by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, while stressing the value of ultrasound use and not forgetting the importance of scanning heifers.

“If you’re not scanning heifers in your operation, you really should be,” said Henry.

“It can provide valuable data that will greatly influence future breeding decisions.”

The annual Red Angus Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium is an excellent opportunity for members to hear from industry professionals on current trends that are directly impacting producers.

Troy Marshall, Marshall Cattle Co., addressed the crowd during the opening session of the Commercial Cattlemen’s Symposium at the National Red Angus Convention in Dubuque, Iowa. Marshall’s keynote lecture was titled “Which Came First — The Cow or the Calf?”