The Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) and the American Simmental Association (ASA) hosted a joint Young Guns Conference in Bozeman, Mont., on July 23-24, 2009. Made up of association members, commercial producers and industry partners, the attendees delved into issues that faced both Red Angus and Simmental.

Lorna Marshall, ABS Global Manager of Sire Acquisition and wrap-up speaker, was enthusiastic about the two breeds working together, “I think the two breeds complement each other. Most importantly they share a similar mindset – a set of core values. Both are very commercially focused; they have excellent genetic evaluations; both are very open-minded to the concept of crossbreeding and heterosis. Both organizations have many young breeders and are very progressive, so it all melds together very well.”

It All Comes Down to Customer Service

The first day's schedule focused on panel discussions between attendees, seedstock producers, seedstock customers and multi-breed breeders with topics ranging from pull-through marketing to multi-breed genetic evaluations. In essence, most attendees were interested in how to create a higher demand for their products by expanding their customer service. Bruce Durheim, commercial producer from Ellendale, N.D., summed it up, “In the long term, your longevity as a seedstock supplier is nested in your customer's success.”

A tour of area ranches was next on the agenda. Attendees toured the Milesnick Ranch in Belgrade providing an opportunity to visit the NCBA Regional Stewardship Award-Winning operation. They moved on to the Feddes Red Angus Ranch, Manhattan for a cook-out sponsored by Pfizer and a presentation on genetic abnormalities.

Focus on Research

The following day the group gathered at the Montana State University (MSU) Research Farm for a review of the Residual Feed Intake (RFI) research projects overseen by Drs. John Paterson and Rodney Kott.

The discussion of RFI and feed efficiency continued as the group made their way to the Burns Communication Center on the MSU campus.

Several well-known researchers participated via teleconference including: Dr. Michael Dikeman, Kansas State University; Dr. John Butler, Beef Marketing Group; Dr. John Basarab, University of Alberta; and Dr. Dorian Garrick, Iowa State University. These distinguished scientists represented the varying views on using RFI and feed efficiency in selecting seedstock. Dr. Jerry Lipsey, ASA Executive Vice President explained, “Feed intake and utilization is one of the most controversial genetic improvement subjects. Our industry is not in strong agreement in how to collect data and develop genetic measurements.”

Genomics and genetic markers were themes of other presentations. Dr. Mike Tess, MSU, and Bill Bowman, American Angus Association, along with Dr. Wade Shafer, ASA and Larry Keenan, RAAA, explained how the advances in genomics would aid producers in selection for performance and carcass production.

“The ‘young' in Young Guns is more a state of mind than a chronological reference,” said Greg Comstock, RAAA Executive Secretary. “It's an opportunity to continue the lifelong learning that one has to be open to in order to sustain success in our dynamic industry. While I'm very pleased with our two breed's collaboration on this conference, I'm not at all surprised at the event's success. Both breeds have a history of pushing the envelope in regards to service to the beef industry, and staff and breeders alike saw this as an opportunity to learn from their counterpart – another progressive, commercially focused breed.”

When asked about the benefits of the Young Guns Conference, Bart and Sarah Jones, seedstock producers from Lafayette, Tenn., said, “We met other breeders and other industry people who face the same challenges that we do … the friendships we make are very significant along with the knowledge that we gained.”


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