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A focus on genetics: Wyoming producers continue to work toward genetics exchange

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Denver, Colo. – For five years, a group of Argentine cattle producers has been working with Wyoming producers to set up a genetics exchange program between the two countries.

This year at the National Western Stock Show, the partnerships continued to grow stronger as Argentine cattlemen Ricardo Cantarelli and Alejandro Spinella met with Wyoming industry representatives Kim Cullen, Greg Addleman and Brad Boner, along with Genetics Import/Export Agent Patrick Simmons and Veterinarian Darrel DeGrofft to move forward in making a genetics exchange.

“Interest in the program we are trying to put together is getting stronger,” commented Wyoming Business Council’s Livestock Genetics Program Manager Scott Keith. 

After an October trip to Bahía Blanca, Argentina where Cullen and Addleman visited with Spinella and Cantarelli, they began to put plans together for a future relationship. 

“A couple of the things that are important are to have a better understanding for the exchange of the process for taking embryos and semen from the U.S. to Argentina,” said Keith, “as well as getting embryos and semen from Argentina to the U.S.”

Complicated processes

Because of current restrictions, shipping embryos and semen directly to the U.S. isn’t an option, and rather, any genetics brought into the U.S. would require shipments through Canada.

However, Cantarelli noted that many Argentine cows and embryos go to Canada each year, and the process is developed.

“We just need to get started,” Simmons said. “There are going to be issues, but the Argentines are ready to establish a long term relationship.”
Spinella also mentioned that he is ready to see concrete results from their ongoing conversations in the form of calves on the ground.

“It is important that we can establish this pipeline,” commented Cullen, “and individuals will be able to proceed when they are ready.”
While each business partnership will be unique, the process of a genetics exchange is an important aspect to a successful program.

DeGrofft, who has been involved in genetics exchange with numerous countries, also commented that both the Argentine and Wyoming breeders need to select the genetics they are interested in before moving forward. The difficult decisions involve which cow and bull should be used in the embryos. 

All parties agreed that trading embryos and semen soon would be ideal.

Establishing relationships

In Latin American communities, Simmons noted that establishing relationships is an important part of the process that Keith has accomplished to this point.

“The first step – and most important step, in my opinion – when working with the Latin culture is establishing a relationship,” said Simmons. “They have established a good relationship, and I want to give great credit to Scott.”

“Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council and Wyoming breeders have a good reputation in Argentina,” he continued, “but if this exchange does happen, a lot of credit has to go to Scott because he brought these people together and has helped to establish the relationship.”

Optimism for the future 

Simmons noted that there are a number of steps that need to take place in order to allow the program to continue to develop.

“The feasibility of it needs to be decided and we need to move forward,” Simmons said. “I think the program has a lot of possibilities.”
Genetics imports and exports are Simmons’ business, and he said, “I’m very familiar with the areas of Argentina where these producers live. It is tremendous cow country with a lot of cattle.”

Simmons noted that there are lots of opportunities for genetics trade, as long as producers are willing to make decisions and continue to move forward.

“It is like any new project, though, and requires learning and overcoming the unfamiliarity of the process,” he added. “Everyone needs to study the costs involved, make a decision to move forward and put a plan in place.”

“Things are difficult,” commented Cantarelli, “but I think we will reach a good point.”

“I am very excited about this program,”Cantarelli added. “I want to have Wyoming genetics in Argentina as soon as possible, and I want my genetics in Wyoming.”

Unique relationships

Partnerships between Wyoming and Argentine cattle producers have been in place for a number of years, and one unique partnership exists between Pablo Herrera and Ned and Jan Ward.

“When I came to Denver a long time ago, I met Ned and Jan,” explained Herrera of the partnership. “I am trying to invest in cattle in the United States.”

Because of a number of factors, Herrera noted that he aims to invest in registered Hereford cattle in the U.S. while maintaining his commercial herd in Argentina.

The Wards care for a Hereford bull and female for Herrera at their ranch in Sheridan.

“Pablo owns the bull, and he takes the semen,” Ward said. “He also bought our top selling female in last year’s sale. She stays on our ranch, and we flush her and send him embryos.”

With a long-standing relationship between the families, Ward noted that Herrera brought his family to their Sheridan ranch last fall, and they have also visited his operation in Argentina.

“It has been a very good partnership,” Ward mentioned. “He is really good to work with.”

Herrera’s family has been involved in the cattle industry for many years.

“My family has owned Hereford cattle for more than 130 years,” said Herrera. “It is part of the history of Hereford cattle in our county.”

Herrera noted that he believes cattle production in Argentina is generally more extensive, with cattle running fields that are between 150 and 200 hectares, or between about 375 and 500 acres.

“We try to produce all on grass,” he added. “We feed very little – and only in the winter.”

Herrera said that he is the fourth generation on his ranch and enjoys coming to Denver for the National Western Stock Show.

“I began coming to Denver more than 20 years ago,” he continued. “I try to see some different genetics each year.”
Included in his primary focus for genetic traits, Herrera looks at birth weight, as well as weaning and yearling weights. He also noted that he is searching for different pedigrees to add to his herd’s genetics.

“I have four daughters,” he added, “and I think they will continue this. We are arranging everything to help them keep operating.”

This year, two of Herrera’s daughter, Lucia and Josefina, attended the National Western Stock Show for the first time. 

Jan Ward noted of the Herrera family, “They are special people, and he has been a great customer.”

Check out Ricardo Cantarelli’s cattle business on Facebook at

Look for more information on the technical aspects of importing and exporting genetics in upcoming editions of the Roundup. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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