Six Reasons Social Media will Help your Cattle Operation

Lauren Chase

Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenMSea or contact her at lauren.chase4@gmail.com

By Lauren Chase

My grandfather was a corn farmer and raised cattle in Iowa for the majority of his life. Now that he is retired, he and his fellow farming buddies head to the local coffee shop at least once a week to brag about grandkids and analyze what’s happening in society. While this type of gathering is still useful and enjoyable, the younger generations are finding other ways to communicate with each other and to market their cattle.

As the beef industry continues to innovate, so do the ways of doing business. Social media has changed how every company markets and brands themselves, as well as public figures, artists and athletes. In our business, it should be no different.

Here are a few ways that social media will help your cattle operation:

1 – Peer Recommendation

If our friend has it, we have to have it too, right? In most cases, the answer is “yes”. What social media has created is a space for your friends, family and acquaintances to share how they feel about all sorts of things even if they enjoyed your bull sale. If a rancher down the road posts on Facebook that he bought a good bull from XYZ Ranch, I’m more inclined to check out the bulls at that ranch because I trust my friend’s opinion. And thus begins the word-of-mouth, free advertisement for XYZ Ranch.

2- Beef Business Online

International Brangus Breeders AssociationToday, there are so many ways for a person to contact another person. If I want to reach a friend, I could call, text, tweet, Facebook message, email, instant message, SnapChat, Instagram them, etc. As chaotic as this sounds, the upcoming generations of beef producers will conduct business through a variety of these forms, and because social media allows for instant contact and an easy way to share visuals, it becomes another way to conduct business.

Are you trying to get people to your bull sale? Post photos of the bulls on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Potential buyers are out there and could message you for more details. Are you trying to make people aware of a legislative issue affecting cattle producers? Post the link to your sites and spread the word. Are you trying to communicate with members in a committee? Develop a group forum on Facebook to keep everyone up to date.

3- Telling the Beef Story

Not only can social media be used to do business, but it is a great way to reach networks of people outside of the beef industry and teach them about agriculture. You become a spokesperson and a face for beef, essentially “humanizing” the industry and making it relatable to the consumer.

Also, the photo of the bull you posted may be geared towards buyers, but it could also catch the eye of your wife’s cousin in New York City who doesn’t know how his steak is produced. Maybe the photo makes him think: “Hmm, I wonder why the bulls are sold like that,” and then messages you to learn more about your sale. Advocacy is a collective effort and the more we can reinforce the beef lifestyle through imagery and social media, the better we can tell the beef story.

4 – Other Advantages

Social media is free and it is relatively easy to produce content. If you have a smartphone, you’re golden. Cross-promotion of content on major social media sites is also easy and will only increase your marketing.

5 – Tips

Carefully consider your content and be ready to engage in conversation if people comment. Reciprocity is key — when you go from being a “talking head” to allowing your customers to have a voice, your interaction will greatly increase.

Watch trends and be willing to try new things. Hashtags are huge on Twitter and have become more frequent on Instagram and Facebook. For those who don’t know, hashtags are like “key words” and can help you engage in the conservations you want to be in. For example: #ranchlife #beef #Texas

6 – @GoBrangus

GoBrangus (gobrangus) on TwitterThe IBBA has done a terrific job of establishing itself on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. As a Brangus producer, utilize the services they have provided for you. For example: If you are out checking cows and snap a photo of a new calf, tweet it and include a mention to the IBBA (@gobrangus). Most likely, you will be retweeted by them. What does all of this mean? Not only will your photo go out to your followers, but once it’s retweeted, it will go out to all of IBBA’s followers. People who follow IBBA on Twitter, most likely have some interest in Brangus cattle. One of those followers could be a potential buyer for you. It’s a win-win!

Understanding these trends and new marketing techniques is essential for the beef industry in the upcoming decades. Even though our businesses may look different than how our grandparents ran it, we all still share the same passion for the beef industry and want our operations to be successful for our own grandchildren!

About the Author:
Lauren Chase graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in journalism and anthropology. She now works as the multimedia outreach specialist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, working to tell the story of Montana family ranching.

Lauren can be contacted by email at lauren.chase4@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenMSea 

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Junior Spotlight- Emily Jackson

IBBA features Emily Jackson in the Junior Spotlight. From Waco, Texas, Emily is the reigning Miss International Junior Brangus Association Queen and is actively involved in the IJBBA. Emily has a strong passion for the agriculture industry. She is currently a junior at Texas Tech University and wishes to be a lobbyist or an advocate for the agriculture industry, disproving false claims made by organizations with an anti-meat agenda. Watch the video to see how the IJBBA has made an impact on Emily’s life.

Find more videos on our website at http://gobrangus.com/videofeed/

Southern Accent Farm Receives Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award

Tallahassee, FL– Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam recognized Allen and Nicki Smith, owners and operators of Southern Accent Farm of Okeechobee, Fla., as the recipients of the 2012 Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award. Sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the award recognizes agricultural enterprises that demonstrate leadership in developing and implementing innovated and progressive techniques to safeguard the environment and conserve natural resources.

“Agriculture is not your stereotypical Norman Rockwell painting,” said Commissioner Putnam. “These operations are just two examples of how the industry is using high-tech solutions and innovation to maintain its position as one of the state’s strongest economic pillars, but also ensure that the natural resources Florida is known for are available for generations to come.”

Southern Accent Farm is a purebred Brangus and commercial cattle operation, which utilizes a full suite of water quality best management practices, allowing the farm to harness the natural pressure of an artesian well to supply a series of water troughs to their pastures. The ranch is also home to the largest commercial solar array in the glades Electric Coops territory, producing enough electricity for the operations of the 824-acre ranch.

Commissioner Putnam recognized Southern Accent Farm as well as Deroose Plants, Inc., with the awards at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Annual Meeting October 24-26, 2012, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Thanks to the Florida Department of Agriculture for recognizing the Smiths and for providing the media content. For more information about the Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award, visit www.florida-agriculture.com/business/awards/agenviron/.

Visit www.GoBrangus.com to learn more about the benefits of Brangus genetics.

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Successful Brangus Producer Knows What Customers Want

By Brittni Drennan, IBBA Communications Coordinator

Don and Sherry Atkinson

Anyone who is an expert in marketing will tell you the key to a successful marketing plan is to know your audience. When you know who your audience is, you can better serve them and market a product that fits their needs. Don Atkinson may not claim to be an expert in marketing, but he knows exactly who his customers are and what kind of product will fit the needs of their operation.

“I want my customers to be successful in their endeavors,” Atkinson said. “I know my product and offer customers one type of cow that can thrive in their environment.”

A fourth generation cattleman, Atkinson knew at an early age what his calling was in life. Running cattle has always been a staple and a way of life in his family. Atkinson partnered with his father until his passing in 2001, and Atkinson took full ownership of the business and began ranching full time. His ultimate goal is to be remembered for creating a mother cow that thrives in her environment and maintains longevity.

Together, Atkinson and his wife of almost five years, Sherry, run 240 commercial Brangus cows and some registered Brangus cattle in Mullins, S.C. Atkinson switched to breeding Brangus when he bought his first bull in 1990 from Graham DuBose and John Spitzer. After breeding his commercial herd to the Brangus bull, he realized the advantages Brangus genetics had to offer, especially for the environment he was surrounded by near the east coast.

“People need to take advantage of crossbreeding to take advantage of all the opportunities hybrid vigor provides,” Atkinson said. “Crossbreeding allows producers to incorporate all the benefits of improved weaning weights, milk, [intramuscular fat] IMF and others.”

Shortly after buying his first bull and being pleased with his results, Atkinson went to Cow Creek’s Brangus sale in Mocksville, N.C., where he was introduced to Joe Reznicek’s breeding program. Atkinson has now been using genetics from Cow Creek for the last 21 years by utilizing artificial insemination (AI) techniques.

In 2010, Atkinson began breeding his Brangus cows to a registered Angus bull to create Ultrablack calves, following Reznicek’s model. According to Atkinson, his customers in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama want purebred Brangus to perform better in a harsher climate. However, Ultrablack cattle enable him to market his Brangus genetics to his customers farther north of the Gulf Coast states.

2012 Weaned Heifer Crop

“If I’m selling to a breeder in Florida, they need to be Brangus to withstand the heat and humidity,” Atkinson said. “Here, not as many people take advantage of the heat tolerance that Brangus provide. They want Ultrablack bulls with a little less percentage Brahman blood. Registered Ultrablacks allow us to introduce Brangus genetics to those who are skeptical.”

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Past President Spotlight: Tommie Rogers

IBBA President
1999-2000

Like many producers, Tommie Rogers of The Branch Ranch located in North Louisiana near Mansfield, started out in the beef industry raising commercial cattle. He bought into the seedstock industry with just six registered cows and one registered bull in the early 1980’s. Shortly after, his daughters were interested in showing Brangus cattle, and Rogers quickly got more involved in the Brangus breed.

Rogers knows a thing or two about successful marketing and promotion. Once he had obtained a line of quality genetics, Rogers established his own successful breeding program called the rough and ready program. He thought the industry needed to focus more on serving the commercial producer, and Rogers found his niche by providing tough, rugged bulls that would work for that sector. Rogers said having integrity is most important and makes the difference between just making a sale and being successful in the industry.

“It takes a combination of getting established and building integrity,” Rogers said. “Once you’ve been established, build integrity and stand behind the product you market.”

Rogers established the rough and ready program when he realized he needed to market a herd bull that would work hard at two years old and survive in tough conditions. He also knew seedstock producers needed to start providing bulls that would withstand the toughest environments, perform for commercial cattlemen and fit the needs of their breeding programs.

“I implement a fence-line weaning process then we grade our bulls and bring them into a controlled environment until they’re yearling age to gather data. Then I kick them out on rough country where the natural culling process begins,” Rogers said. “I am then able to market hardy bulls that are ready to go to work.”

Rogers said he culled stringently to increase the quality of his herd, keeping in mind the long-term goals he set for the program. The Branch Ranch has been able to sell bulls under the rough and ready program for about 10 years. He said it took some time for customers to realize the kind of product they were buying, but once the program was established, the number of repeat customers confirmed the program was working.

“Our Brangus breed is a hardy breed and has many advantages qualities,” Rogers said, ”but I’ve got to raise him and train him to live a hardy lifestyle. I can stand behind my product and not worry about anything because I know my bulls will work.”

Rogers knows the value of Brangus bulls, but he also reminds breeders of the value of the Brangus female. The BrangusGold tagging program offered by the IBBA ensures buyers they are getting quality, verified Brangus genetics. Especially during this drought period, Rogers said seedstock producers need to promote the commercial man’s need for quality replacement females.

“Our breed is here today because of the females the commercial cattlemen can retain in their herds and will perform,” Rogers said. “The calves produced out of that herd can produce quality carcass traits that will grade on the rail, but our females carry the maternal traits the commercial man is looking for. The Brangus cow is what brought us to the dance.”

Rogers served on several committees while serving on the IBBA Board of Directors from 1995-2003 and has since been a strong proponent of the Brangus breed. Rogers said adaptability, endurance and the value of the Brangus female are three strengths that set the breed apart from all others. Promoting those advantages to the commercial producer and keeping long-term goals in sight will ensure the future success of the Brangus breed.

New Technologies and Old Techniques Key to Young Producer’s Success

By Brittni Drennan, IBBA Communications Coordinator

Most involved in the cattle industry are aware of a potential threat that began creeping up in the minds of producers across the nation and is gaining speed as it quickly approaches. The question lingering among farmers and producers is, “Who is going to lead the future of agriculture”?

While many producers are ready to hand down the reins of their operations, there are fewer young people willing to take over. However, that does not mean there are not still some out there willing to jump in and give it a try.

Brody Wallis grew up in Atoka located in southeastern Oklahoma and was always drawn to the agriculture industry. He was raised on his family’s small ranch in which a commercial cow-calf operation was in place to manage the property as well as keep family ties to the cattle industry. He then began taking more of an interest in the cattle operation as he was exposed to agriculture through 4-H and showing cattle throughout high school in FFA. He especially enjoyed visiting relatives on larger cattle operations in north Texas where he was able to watch and learn how large-scale commercial cattle ranches operated.

Wallis started college at Oklahoma State University with the intent of practicing large animal veterinary medicine. He later decided that he wanted to be in the beef industry in another capacity. He changed his Animal Science option from pre-vet to business and began taking classes in economics and range management to gain knowledge that would prepare him for a future in the cattle industry. His formal education helped Wallis form the basis for a small herd of cows on his family ranch.

“As a long-term goal, I want to be a producer who can make a positive impact in the industry,” Wallis said. “With an aging industry and aging producers, there are going to be more opportunities for young producers to introduce new ideas and perspectives to advance and grow the industry all while maintaining the values and beliefs that leaders ahead of us instilled.”

Wallis grew up around commercial cow-calf operations, but when he went to college one of his goal was to diversify himself within the beef industry. He worked for the OSU purebred cattle operation while obtaining his bachelor’s degree as well as worked for a year in the OSU meat laboratory on the campus in Stillwater. To gain valuable experience in the cattle feeding industry he worked as an intern for JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC in Hartley, Texas. Wallis is now about to complete his master’s degree at OSU in animal science specializing in ruminant nutrition while doing his research in grazing stocker cattle and subsequent feedyard performance.

“As young people in the industry, we can bring advanced technologies and higher education back to introduce to the operation,” Wallis said. “And with my background and the mentors I’ve had, I want to provide quality genetics to commercial producers whether it’s Brangus bulls and females or crossbred females.

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Past President Spotlight: Eddie Blazek

The Past President Spotlight is a column we feature in our bi-monthly publication, the Brangus Journal. We hope you learn from these great leaders who have extensive experience and expertise in their respective fields.

Eddie Blazek
IBBA President 2004-2005


Having served the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) as a former president in 2004-2005, Eddie Blazek, owner of Mound Creek Ranch, has a positive outlook for the future of the breed and particularly for further developing international relations. Blazek and his team at Mound Creek near Leona, Texas, have developed successful working relationships with seedstock Brangus breeders and commercial producers from all over the world.

Mound Creek Ranch has an ongoing successful business relationship with Juan and Santiago Debernardi, some of the most reputable agribusiness leaders in Argentina and South America. When it comes to international markets, Blazek said Genex/CRI and the Debernardi family have been very instrumental in opening doors. Their understanding of protocols and procedures to meet export requirements is essential. Blazek emphasized having patience, courtesy and knowledge about your product is critical when developing international relationships.

“We go in with the mindset to build relationships first and marketing second,” Blazek said. “It’s fun to build familiarity with their customs and their needs. The interest and desire to increase quality in their beef cattle has grown exponentially.”

Blazek was involved in the cattle business at a young age with his father’s commercial cattle herd in Teague, Texas, which had very little Bos indicus influence. After he graduated with an agriculture business degree from Sam Houston State University in 1975, Blazek started out on his own business venture. He sought to purchase the best commercial cows he could find for the best price available. He purchased some commercial females from a herd liquidation sale; half of that herd was pedigreed Brangus females. Once he bred them to a registered Brangus bull he purchased from Harold Gore, the results were unbeatable.

“These Brangus females consistently outperformed and produced the best product,” Blazek said. “Bottom line they made more money.”

Impressed by the results that were produced by the Brangus breed, Blazek invested in the seedstock industry and purchased his first registered females in 1987 at the Genetic Connection sale hosted by Pete Raines and Ray Blair in Hunstville, Texas. Mound Creek now hosts some of the top averaging sales in the country. With the valuable experience and insight he has gained as a Brangus producer and effective leader in the seedstock industry, Blazek said the future of the breed remains positive and prosperous.

“As breeders, as members and as an association, the future of the breed is in our hands,” Blazek said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Brangus has more future and promise than any other beef breed, and it’s up to us to move it forward.”

Blazek’s foresight is supported by years of experience and involvement in the Brangus breed. His emphasis on implementing the latest technologies and highest quality genetics makes Mound Creek an innovative leader in the seedstock industry domestically and internationally. Mound Creek Ranch initiated a complete new genetics program in the mid ‘90s that is now their hallmark of quality Brangus genetics. Also, the Mound Creek program has a zero tolerance policy in the economically important areas of fertility, skeletal soundness, udder quality, and female accountability.

Not only did Blazek serve as president for the IBBA, but he has served as president for the Texas Brangus Breeders Association (TBBA) and several other regional associations as well. During his term as president, Blazek believed in effective leadership and made it a priority to unite the members of the association. In 2001, he was recognized by his peers as the IBBA Breeder of the Year. Outside of his involvement in the industry, Blazek participates in church missions and activities, and he helps develop programs that assist underprivileged youth.