Provided by Pam Doiron, President of the West Coast Brangus Breeders Association
On a beautiful spring day in Northern California, the West Coast Brangus Breeders Association (WCBBA) hosted their Spring 2014 Field Day May 3, 2014, at the University of California at Chico’s 800-acre Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center.
Jason Bates, IBBA’s Director of Field Services and Commercial Marketing, represented the association and introduced the expansion of IBBA programs. Of particular interest were reporting of genetic conditions. He also introduced the expansion of programs to increase premiums on commercial calves along with registered cattle. Everyone received samples of new ads, brochures, and pamphlets that are part of the newest promotional campaign. His participation and the support of IBBA was very much appreciated.
Dr. Patrick Doyle led the group through the Beef Unit, introducing his students who explained the various cattle research studies. Of particular interest was the study on feed efficiency using the Gro-Safe feed tracking system. WCBBA members peppered the students with questions — probably a great prep for finals! The group moved from the feed bunks to the computer analysis station where every aspect of the cattle and their feed could be viewed and analyzed.
The Meats Laboratory put the members to the test as Dr. Doyle had prepared two carcasses for evaluation. He led a lively — and cold in the freezer — discussion on yield and grade in light of the changing tastes and preferences of the American consumer. Dr. Doyle’s background in beef performance programs, animal breeding and genetics, and EPD development brought a broad appreciation for the “pasture to plate” concept as the group performed tenderness tests on meat samples.
Photographer Wes Schultz, the official photographer for WCBBA and volunteer photographer for CalFire, gave the luncheon presentation on ranch photography. He emphasized the need to use an easy point-and-shoot camera that you can carry in your pocket to capture special moments or to take “beauty shots” of bulls for sale. Not everyone has a professional photographer who can come to the ranch to take those spectacular pasture photos, and with a little planning the rancher can take some pretty good shots anyway. He recommends: take lots of shots and choose the best one, read the manual and make sure your camera is set for optimum use, turn off the flash and use the highest resolution possible.
Dr. Paul Mennick, owner of Pacific International Genetics, Los Molinos, CA entertained the group with stories about his work around the world. Dr. Mennick not only treats cattle, but horses and other large animals, as a specialist in reproduction and embryo transfer. He led an extensive discussion on the value and practicality of sexed semen in the nation’s cattle herd in anticipation of eventual herd expansion. Members appreciated his recommendations on maintaining fertility in the herd while enduring this extensive drought. Special attention to mineral supplementation topped his list of must-haves at a time when both the quantity and quality of feed is compromised.
With “sustainability” as the new buzzword, a group of WCBBA members continued the meeting at the 50-acre Sierra Nevada Brewery which sends its spent brewer’s grains to feed the CSU Chico cattle, and in turn, serves the CSU Chico beef in its restaurant. Virtually everything at the brewery is recycled or reused including the C02 from the brewing process and the cooking oil from the kitchen. It is a model of sustainability as the 90-minute tour demonstrated. By using solar energy, only 21% of the total power must be bought from outside. Sierra Nevada is a model for sustainability ideas from composting and biodiesel from its own facility, to tending its Estate Garden for kitchen herbs and landscape plants. All of that beef talk made everyone hungry, and the meeting concluded with — what else? Dinner!
For more information about the West Coast Association, visit the WCBBA website.