Longevity and Fertility are Profit Drivers for Cattle Operations

by Clifford Mitchell

Reblogged from Cattle Today

DSC_0094_6x4_72Producers in the 21st century beef industry come better prepared than ever before. Continued education programs and an abundance of online resources help cattlemen stay well informed. Record keeping practices have improved and cattlemen have a good handle on the costs associated with their operation.

Tightening margins have forced producers to further evaluate the management plan, running through many different scenarios to find the best production model. For some this was a real eye-opener, for others it reinforced the approach they were taking to manage the herd for a profit. A genetic base complete with a bundle of traits also played a key role in the success of the operation. Many cattlemen have argued with neighbors and colleagues until they were blue in the face over their point of view; however, most will agree longevity built into the female is a definite advantage for most outfits.

“Every year I can keep a cow it cuts my costs $1,500. Because that’s what it costs to get a female into production,” says James Henderson, Bradley 3 Ranch, LTD, Memphis, Texas.

Photo by Penny Bowie

Photo by Penny Bowie

“Operations have to be profit driven. Fertility is a good trait to have and will lead to a long life on many ranches, but females have to be productive. Make sure cows are able to live in your environment, breed back and do it profitably year after year,” says Dr. Robert Wells, Livestock Consultant, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

“Longevity is one of the reasons we have Brangus females. A lot of times you wouldn’t know that old cow, is not a six or seven year old, because she’s still milking well and raising a good calf,” says Adam Whitesell, Lockwood, Missouri. This operation maintains 600 to 650 Brangus females and retains ownership of the calf crop most years at Decatur County Feedyard in Oberlin, Kansas.

Cattlemen have been programmed into two schools of thought; either buy or raise the replacements that the operation needs. Costs are associated with each method; another big debate among cattlemen looking for the most profitable answers.

“I know it costs us something to get that heifer into production. I have never put a pencil to actual costs. When it’s time, we select our replacements they go to grass and the cull heifers go to the feedyard,” Whitesell says. “I would think a five-year-old after producing three calves would have paid for herself in our program.”

“The cost of a replacement will vary from one operation to the next depending on if heifers are home-raised or bought. The first thing producers need to do is maximize the salvage value of that cull cow,” Wells says. “Quality replacements, from a known source and bred to good calving ease bulls are costing any where from $1,000 to $1,200 in our current market. Most females, depending on the value of the calf she is producing, should pay for themselves by the time they are four or five years old.”


“Just to break even in our operation a cow has to be six and produced four calves,” Henderson says. “According to my calculations, it costs me $1,500 every time I replace a cow. This includes feed, facilities, pasture, semen and labor. None of these things come without a cost.”

Care and handling of these replacements will bring genetics to the forefront when done right. Management could help these females lead long productive lives just by making the right decisions as they are introduced to the next stage in the production cycle.

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Get in Front of Cattlemen at NCBA

Partner with IBBA and come face-to-face with other cattlemen at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Annual Convention and Trade Show February 4-7, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. The oldest and largest convention for the cattle business, the NCBA trade show provides a unique, fun environment for cattle industry members to come together. Do not be the one missing out! Join us in Nashville to help promote Brangus.

Download the flyer for package options and more information. Commitments must be made by Friday, December 13. Email Lindsey Matli or call her at 210-696-8231 today to reserve your spot in the GoBrangus booth!

NCBA participation flyer

Perkins to Speak at California Beef Improvement Seminar

Tommy Perkins_72

IBBA Executive Vice President
Dr. Tommy Perkins

SAN ANTONIO, TX [Nov. 8, 2013]- International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) Executive Vice President Dr. Tommy Perkins will be a guest speaker at the Third Annual Beef Improvement and Low Stress Cattle Handling Seminar scheduled for January 11, 2014. Hosted by University of California, Davis in conjunction with the FARM CLUB, several relevant cattle industry topics will be addressed at the seminar. Perkins will present at 11:30 a.m. on the topic of docility- 60 years of selection in beef cattle. Click here for a complete schedule of events.

“I look forward to this opportunity to share research-based knowledge of selection for docility in the beef industry with attendees at UC Davis,” Perkins said. “It will be an honor to speak alongside the world renown animal behaviorist Temple Grandin and the other great animal specialists.”

Perkins is most well known among industry professionals for his extensive research and experience using ultrasound technology. While teaching at several universities, including Texas Tech University, Texas State University and Missouri State University, Perkins accomplished an outstanding career measuring body composition in beef cattle using ultrasound technology and has been a certified ultrasound technician for more than 20 years. He has traveled to Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela to train beef producers, college professor and veterinarians how to use ultrasound technology to improve carcass merit in beef cattle.

A native of the Texas Panhandle region, Perkins received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, and he received a doctoral degree in Animal Science with a specialization in animal breeding from Texas Tech University.

Other presenters and topics on the program include Dr. Temple Grandin on cattle behavior and improving handling facilities as well as setting up and implementing auditing programs for cattle and other food animals; Dr. Catalina Cabrera on reproductive strategies for beef cattle; Dr. Anita Varga on correcting dystocias in beef cattle; Dr. Frank Mitloehner on sustainable technologies to feed more people; and others. For more information about the seminar, visit the UC Davis website.


IBBA’s Statement Concerning Developmental Duplication (DD)

Published from the IBBA Breed Improvement Committee

In mid-August of 2013, the American Angus Association released a statement concerning a new genetic condition that was identified in Angus cattle. This new defect is called Developmental Duplication (DD) and is genetically transmitted as a simple recessive gene. Dr. Jonathan Beever, University of Illinois, one of the world’s most renowned experts in the genetic identification of abnormal conditions in livestock, has spent several years reviewing this condition prior to submitting a final report to the American Angus Association. When the gene associated with DD is paired (two copies of same allele) in a mating, the results are either 1) high probability of early embryonic death or 2) calves born with multiple limbs.  Other than an increase in the occurrence of mortality associated with dystocia, calves born with polymelia (born with extra limbs) often thrive, especially with removal of the limb or limbs at or soon after birth. Those animals identified as carriers (only one recessive allele) show no visible signs of the genetic condition and typically lead a normal life.

Based on research, Developmental Duplication is reported as a simple recessive trait like so many of the other genetic defects previously identified in cattle breeds around the globe.  Again, this means an animal must carry two copies of the defective recessive allele in order to show this condition. Dr. Beever tested a large number of high-use AI Angus bulls and found approximately 6.5 percent carriers of the DD genotype. Dr. Beever’s lab also discovered the DD genotype in the Brangus genetic population.

With the onset of DD, it is clear the discovery of genetic conditions will be a part of the future for all breeds of cattle. Several of our sister breed associations have already dealt with previously identified genetic conditions for years. It is a high probability IBBA will deal with some of these same previously identified conditions in our breed population. We will be working in good faith with our membership in identifying genetic conditions, managing these conditions, and protecting the interests of our commercial customers while addressing financial concerns in future breed policies.

Commercial testing is now available to identify animals carrying the DD genetic condition. We cannot stress enough the importance of a well researched and educated approach within each individual breeding program. If properly managed, the breeding and financial impact from this DD condition can be kept to an acceptable minimum.

The International Brangus Breeder’s Association Board of Directors, along with our Breed Improvement Committee, is considering the ramifications of this condition, the best interests of the breed and our membership, the state of where the science of genetics is moving with respect to the early detection of genetic conditions, and our ability to manage such genetic conditions. We are working on policy for these genetic conditions while putting the infrastructure in place to deal with abnormal genetic conditions in our breed population. Our Board will ultimately determine how we will best deal with DD and will keep you abreast of our progress.

More detailed information on polymelia condition can be found at:



IBBA Announces New Executive Vice President

Tommy-PerkinsSAN ANTONIO, TX (Sept. 20, 2013)- The International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) announced today the appointment of Tommy Perkins, Ph.D., as its new Executive Vice President. IBBA’s mission to serve the commercial cattle industry and effectively promote the Brangus breed is supported by Perkins’ background and extensive experience in the industry. He will begin his appointment with IBBA in early October.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to lead the largest American beef breed association in the United States,” Perkins said. “I look forward to working with the leadership, staff and committee volunteers as we unite the membership in our quest for continued growth of Brangus cattle in the commercial industry.”

A Silverton, Texas, native, Perkins received B.S. and M.A. degrees from West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, and a doctoral degree in Animal Science/Animal Breeding and Genetics from Texas Tech University in 1992. In 2001, he received his Professional Animal Scientist (PAS) certification from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. Perkins has conducted research in multiple aspects of the industry including ultrasound technology, ultrasonic sorting of feedlot cattle, synchronization, DNA Fingerprinting and In Vitro fertilization.

Most recently, Perkins served as the Executive Vice President for Beefmaster Breeders United. The IBBA Board of Directors voted Perkins to lead the Brangus association following Dr. Joseph Massey’s resignation earlier this year.

“The Board looks forward to working with Tommy and know that he will provide direction and be a positive leader for this breed,” said Ron Flake, President of the IBBA Board of Directors. “With his knowledge and experience, IBBA will continue to make advances and provide superior Brangus genetics to our customers.”

Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, the IBBA is a membership based organization that strives to provide members with innovative programs and services. The purpose of the IBBA is to serve the commercial cattle industry by offering industry leading technology to increase the quality and reliability of Brangus genetics to its customers.

For more information about Brangus and the IBBA, visit www.GoBrangus.com.


Past President Spotlight- Ludwig Brand

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.

Ludwig Brand
IBBA President 1980-1981

An article in the August 1983 issue of the Brangus Journal uses three words to describe Ludwig Brand- dedication, determination and enthusiasm.

This past IBBA president was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1933. His family moved to Poland where they were in the business of selling and exporting hides having offices in Houston and in Europe. Brand’s father was in the United States on business when World War II erupted. After weathering the war in Poland, Brand and his mother were able to join his father and move to the U.S. in 1949.

When Brand enrolled in the University of Houston at age 16, he took a full load of college courses during the day and studied and learned to speak English at night. Just after five years of living in the U.S., Brand received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry in 1954. Brand then served two years of active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard before returning to Houston to join the family’s cattle hide business, Southwestern Trading Company. In 1965, he bought the present ranch in Round Top, Texas, where Brand and his wife, Judy, continue to raise Brangus cattle.

Brand began using Brangus genetics after he purchased four Brangus bulls from Diamond M Ranch to breed his Hereford cows and has since been a devoted leader and avid supporter of the breed and the IBBA. Brand started his registered herd with a group of 25 heifers bred by Bud Adams Ranches and gradually grew his herd count and obtained more land. Brand and Judy hosted annual sales for approximately 12 years. They use proven genetics derived from their own breeding program and introduced new bloodlines from time to time. While concentrating on increasing weights at weaning and yearling, Brand said his goal is to produce a very consistent calf crop year after year.

Perhaps Brand’s biggest contribution to the breed was his integral role in organizing and leading the three fundraisers essential for establishing the IBBA headquarters building and preventing the association from incurring any debt. The Building Fund Drive and the Art Fund Drive alone generated $900,000 from Brangus breeders. Many breeders and IBBA members remember The Crowning Event in which Brand and Judy were instrumental in organizing that completely paid off the new building located on 5750 Epsilon in San Antonio, Texas. Ground breaking for the new building started April 11, 1985.

“People were willing to give something of themselves and wanted to further the breed,” said Brand in an article recorded in the August 1999 issue of the Brangus Journal. “IBBA members truly built this building. We had members in all phases who had expertise, and they gave their knowledge and time freely.”

Brand became an IBBA member in 1967 and has since fervently served the association, its members and the Brangus breed. He served on too many committees to mention and served as president of the Texas Brangus Breeders Association (TBBA). He was recognized as IBBA’s Breeder of the Year in 1983 and received the Pioneer Award in 2011. Brand was also an inductee into the Brangus Breeder Hall of Fame sponsored by the Heart of America Brangus Breeders Association.

With his longevity and experience in the industry, he recognizes the opportunity cattle producers are being provided and encourages Brangus breeders take initiative

“The future of the entire beef industry looks brighter than ever,” Brand said. “We have a rare situation when the inventory is the lowest it has been in some fifty years and the domestic demand and exports are increasing.”

He said the Brangus breed needs a unified effort, one voice and unselfish dedication to this great breed to make advancements in the industry.

Brangus Association Members Pass Bylaw Change

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – The International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) membership voted recently to pass the bylaw change pertaining to Ultrablack and Ultrared cattle by a 70 percent margin. After much debate and discussion, votes were cast to pass the amendment allowing IBBA members to breed up to Brangus utilizing Ultrablack and Ultrared animals.

“This initiative will allow the incorporation of new Angus genetics into the Brangus population by an alternate method compared to the traditional process starting with Angus and Brahman as the first cross,” said Dale Kirkham, a member of the IBBA’s Breed Improvement Committee, in the December 2012 issue of the Brangus Journal.

Like the traditional Angus x Brahman approach, using Ultrablacks to breed up to Brangus will require three crosses to reach purebred status. Offspring of the first cross Ultrablacks (Angus x Brangus) mated back to Brangus (Ultrablack x Brangus) are genetically 3/4 Brangus. When these individuals are mated back to Brangus (3/4 Brangus x Brangus), their calves will be 7/8 Brangus and considered purebred Brangus. According to the amendment to Section I of Article V in the IBBA Bylaws, those animals will now be eligible for registration in the IBBA registry database.

Members were allowed to vote by mail-in ballot until December 31, 2012, and in person at the IBBA business meeting Friday March 1, 2013. For more information, visit IBBA’s website at www.GoBrangus.com.