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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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


“We look to maximize the genetic potential of animals in their environments,” says Scott Anderson of Agri-Best Feeds.

The company, which was established as a family corporation in 2007, distributes products for cattle producers in an attempt to help utilize feed better and maximize growth.

Family corporation

Anderson notes that Agri-Best was formed as a family corporation in 2007 when his father-in-law, Irv Haidle was contacted by SweetPro.

“They told him that using SweetPro, cattle would eat 25 percent less hay and perform better,” explains Anderson. “He told them no and that it was too good to be true.”

Later, Anderson notes that the company approached Haidle a year later, at which point he agreed to try it on his own herd.

“He supplemented his cows and in six weeks, his hay was lasting 25 percent longer,” Anderson says. “That got his attention, so he used it again the following year.”

With similar results, Anderson comments that his father-in-law began marketing the product as a sole proprietor at the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) in 2006.

“There was lots of interest,” he mentions, “and the business exploded.”

With the incredible demand, Haidle brought in family members, including two sons and his son-in-law Scott. Though Irv has since passed today, his sons Daryl and Kevin Haidle and Kevin’s son Sammy Higgs work together with Anderson to continue to help Agri-Best Feeds to expand.

Seeing success

Agri-Best operates through a network of between 70 and 80 dealers and has the exclusive rights for sales in Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming.

This year, they were the number one distributer in cattle tonnage nationwide, the number four distributer in horse tonnage and number one overall.

Anderson says, “There are just under 10 million head of cattle in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we are serving about 0.5 percent of those at this point.”

He notes that they have lots of room to grow in the market and are confident they will continue to see growth because the product works and offers lots of benefits cattle.

SweetPro benefits

SweetPro is a complete feed supplement, with all the vitamins, mineral and trace minerals that animals need.

“They are 50 percent chelated, or broken down outside the body,” explains Anderson. 

As a result, it takes less energy for cattle to obtain the nutrients they seek from the supplement.

“What separates us from most supplements is that the protein in SweetPro is carried in distiller’s grain, which is a complex carbohydrate, rather than the simple sugars and starches that carry most protein supplements,” he explains. “It binds better with forages and help to break them down.”

Forage utilization

A digestive aid is also included in the product.

“We blend in wheat, oats, barley and flax to give a wide amino acid profile,” he adds. “We are looking to maximize the animal’s health and performance to better utilize forage.” 

The unique nature of the product allows the cattle rumen to maintain a more ideal pH for rumen microbes. At a pH of 6 to 6.5, microbes more effectively digest forage.

At the same times microbes are thriving, the rumen environment is unfriendly for pathogens. 

“Cattle can go out and harvest rangelands that farmers can’t farm and convert it to meat and milk,” says Anderson. “SweetPro turns up the harvester so they get more value.”

Improved digestion leads to less hay use and results in lower costs. 

“SweetPro costs between 45 and 47 cents per head per day to utilize,” says Anderson, noting that in his experience, the reduced hay feed costs from better utilization offsets that cost. 

Looking forward

Ultimately, the family-owned business looks to continue to grow their market share and expand by educating consumers.

“We have a warehouse in Billings, Mont. that services Montana and much of Wyoming,” says Anderson. “We also have a warehouse in Nebraska for southeast Wyoming and Nebraska customers.”

He notes that they also strive to continue to educate consumers on feeding supplements to their cattle.

“We are doing more internet meetings and webinars to help producers evaluate this system from the comfort of their own homes,” he says. “We are working to develop our business.”

For more information, visit Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Two sets of Angus bulls completed this year’s Midland Bull Test, numbering 691 animals. The Angus bulls were split into two groups. The green tag group consists of bulls that are at or below breed average of +1.8 for BW EPD and 84 pounds and under actual birth weight. The EPDs are current as of March 8, and class splits for green and white tag divisions were made based on Feb. 4, 2013 EPDs.

ADG Leaders

Angus Green Tag Group 1

For average daily gain (ADG) of the green tag group one, lots 325 and 122 tied, with an ADG ratio of 128. Lot 325 was consigned by Doug Booth Family Angus of Torrington and sired by Connealy Final Product. This bull has EPDs of BW 81 WW 63 M 32 YW 1.

Strasburg Angus of Marshall, Wisc. consigned lot 122, sired by Kesslers Frontman R001. He has EPDs of BW -0.4 WW 53 M 31 YW 94.

Coming in second ADG for green tag group one is lot 85, sired by PS Western Addition E42, with an ADG of 124. The bull, consigned by Lightning Creek Cattle Co. of Girard, Kans. has EPDs of BW 1.3 WW 55 M 24 YW 97.

Lots 133 and 301 tied for second with ADGs of 123. Lot 133, consigned by TM Angus Genetics of Oak Harbor, Ohio, has EPDs of BW 1.9 WW 56 M 31 YW 102 and was sired by SAV Pioneer 7301.

Garret Farms of Hillsdale, N.Y. consigned lot 301, sired by N Bar Emulation EXT. The bull has EPDs of BW 1.8 WW 41 M 21 YW 79.

In fourth place for the group was a bull with an ADG ratio of 121, lot 248. The bull, sired by Cole Creek Cedar Ridge IV and consigned by Dietz Family Angus of Sentinel Butte, N.D., had EPDs of BW 0.4 WW 48 M 26 YW 86.

Rounding out green tag group one was an OSU Currency sired bull, lot 156. The bull posted an ADG ratio of 120 and EPDS of BW 1.8 WW 51 M 27 YW 94. Winding River Angus of Billings, Mont. consigned the bull.

Angus Green Tag Group 2

For group 2, lot 637 posted the leading ADG ratio, with 135. The bull was sired by Basin Payweight 023W and was consigned by Sioux Pass Angus of Lodge Grass, Mont. His EPDs were BW 0.6 WW 42 M 22 YW 83.

Lot 646, sired by HA Image Maker 0415, posted the second-high ADG of the group, with 128. The bull was consigned by WPR Angus Division at Sheridan and has EPDs of BW 0.3 WW 55 M 29 YW 93.

Sitting at third for the group is lot 667, consigned by Century Farm Black Angus in Cottage Grove, Ore. The lot, sired by SAF Strategy 9015, posted an ADG ratio of 127 and has EPDS of BW 1.7 WW 62 M 23 YW 19.

Tied for fourth with an ADG ratio of 124 were lots 443 and 415. Lot 443 was consigned by Aiton Angus of Harlowton, Mont. and sired by Sitz Upward 307R. The bull has EPDs of BW 1.8 WW 68 M 32 YW 121.

Harrison Angus Ranch of Boyd, Mont. consigned lot 415, who was sired by HARB Rick O’Shay 838 JH and has EPDs of BW 1.1 WW 49 M 33 YW 102.

Lot 515, consigned by McCall Land and Cattle Co. of Albequerque, N.M. and sired by Connealy Impression 6262, finished the top five with an ADG ratio of 123. The bull has EPDs of BW 1.4 WW 60 M 29 YW 105.

Angus White Tag Group 1

Topping the Angus white tag group one for ADG ratio was lot 231. The bull, sired by SAV Iron Mountain 8066 and consigned by Rolling Acres Angus of Freetown, Ind., has a ratio of 136 and EPDs of BW 4.6 WW 62 M 17 YW 109.

Lot 328 took the second place ADG ratio, with 126. Doug Booth Family Angus of Torrington consigned the bull, which was sired by Dakota Gold. It has EPDs of BW 1.5 WW 54 M 24 YW 96.

In third was lot 149, sired by Boyd Resume 9008 and consigned by Locust Hill Farm of Middleburg, Va. The bull had an ADG ration of 125 and EPDs of BW 1.0 WW 58 M 30 YW 105.

A Sitz Upward 307R sired bull consigned by Flying AJ Ranch of Stevensville, Mont. took the fourth place spot with an ADG ratio of 123. The bull has EPDs of BW 1.2 WW 52 M 31 YW 102.

Lot 315 rounded out the group with an ADG ratio of 122. The bull, sired by SF reflection 080 and consigned by Triple C Farm of Pilesgrove, N.J., has EPDs of BW 1.9 WW 58 M 24 YW 104.

Angus White Tag Group 2

The Angus white tag group two was let by lot 383 with an ADG ratio of 142. Consigned by Green Angus Ranch of Hardin, Mont. and sired by BCC Upward 15X, the bull has EPDs of BW 5.0 WW 60 M 19 YW 114.

Second place in the group went to lot 30, consigned by Nelson Family Farms of Mabel, Minn. The bull had an ADG ratio of 128 and EPDs of BW 1.0 WW 56 M 29 YW 103. It was sired by SS Incentive 9J17.

The third place bull, posting an ADG ratio of 127, was lot 654, sired by Granger 7X Big Sky 888 and consigned by 7X Angus Ranch of Alva. The bull has EPDs of BW 3.3 WW 59 M 28 YR 106.

Coombs Cattle Company of Riverside, Utah consigned lot 544, which posted a fourth place achieving ADG ratio of 126. The bull was sired by GAR Predestined and has EPDs of BW 2.2 WW 55 M 26 YW 96.

Lot 652 took fifth in the group, with an ADG ratio of 125. 7X Angus Ranch of Alva also consigned the Prime Maker Plus-sired bull. His EPDs are BW 2.2 WW 54 M 22 YW 85.

Lots 617 and 357 tied for the sixth place ADG ratio, posting a 124. 

Lot 617, consigned by Flat Mountain Ranch of Menahga, Minn., was sired by Syd Gen CC & 7 and has EPDs of BW 5.2 WW 50 M 35 YW 98.

Sired by Granger Pioneer 052, lot 357 was consigned by Hone Ranch of Gardnerville, Nev. and has EPDs of BW 2.8 WW 54 M 25 YW 97.

WDA Leaders

Angus Green Tag Group 1

In the green tag group one, lots 256 and 270 tied for the top place in average WDA, with a score of 3.61. 

Lot 256, sired by SAV Pioneer 7301 and consigned by Abegglen Livestock of Garniell, Mont., has EPDs of BW 1.8 WW 59 M 27 YW 104.

Messner Angus Ranch of Laverne, Okla. Consigned lot 270, which was sired by Vermilion Franklin W880. The bull has EPDs of BW 1.3 WW 52 M 20 YW 93.

Second in the group, with a WDA of 3.56 was lot 301. The bull was sired by N Bar Emulation EXT and was consigned by Garret Farms of Hillsdale, N.Y. His EPDs are BW 1.8 WW 41 M 21 YW 79.

Lot 290 took the third place with a WDA of 3.54. The SAV Pioneer 7301 sired bull was consigned by Drysdale Farms, Inc. of Wabasha, Minn. and has EPDs of BW 1.4 WW 52 M 35 YW 94.

Tying for fourth were lots 265 and 325, with a WDA of 3.51.

Lot 265 was consigned by Messner Angus Ranch of Laverne, Okla. and sired by Poss Total Impact 745. The bull has EPDs of BW 1.8 WW 60 M 20 YW 103.

Doug Booth Family Angus of Torrington consigned lot 325, a son of Connealy Final Product. The bull has EPDs of BW 0.7 WW 63 M 32 YW 117.

Taking fifth in the green tag group one WDA leaders was lot 246 with a WDA of 3.50. The WMR Right Time 380 son was consigned by O-X Angus of Sheridan, Mont. and has EPDs of BW 1.1 WW 64 M 25 YW 103.

Angus Green Tag Group 2

Lot 575 led Angus green tag group two in WDA with 3.98. The bull was sired by HARB Icon 019 and consigned by Harrison Angus Ranch in Boyd, Mont. His EPDs are BW 1.3 WW 67 M 28 YW 110.

 Coming in second was a bull consigned by Shooting Star Ranch of Gooding, Idaho, lot 4, with a WDA of 3.80. The bull was sired by SAV Final Answer 0035 and has EPDs of BW 1 WW 47 M 22 YW 100.

Lot 360 came in third for WDA, with a score of 3.78. The bull, sired by Laflin Southwind 5258 and consigned by Haycow of Lincoln, Calif., has EPDs of BW -1.7 WW 72 M 20 YW 108.

Fourth went to lot 593 and had a WDA of 3.75. Hyline Angus Ranch of Boze

man, Mont. consigned the Vin MAR O Reillys Factor bull, which has EPDs of BW 1.7 WW 57 M 28 YW 108.

Two bulls with a WDA of 3.69 tied for the fifth place spot. 

Lot 442 was consigned by Brian Barragree and Richard Johnson of Absarokee, Mont. and sired by Sitz Upward 307R. His EPDs are BW 1.7 WW 49 M 35 YW 99.

Lot 607, a bull sired by Poss Total Impact 745 and consigned by Twin Creek Angus of Fork Atkinson, Iowa, has EPDs of BW 0.5 WW 75 M 33 YW 127.

Angus White Tag Group 1

In the Angus white tag group one, lot 63 had the top WDA, with a 4.00. The bull was sired by GAR Objective 7125 and consigned by Mohogany Hollow of Delta, Utah. His EPDs are BW -0.4 WW 73 M 32 YW 125.

Lot 225 was next with a WDA of 3.88. Zeller Angus Farm of Noblesville, Ind. consigned the bull, which was sired by SAV Camaro 9272. His EPDs are BW 3.7 WW 60 M 34 YW 105.

Abegglen Livestock of Garniell, Mont. consigned the third-high WDA of 3.86 in the group, lot 253. The bull, sired by WMR Timeless 458, had EPDs of BW 3.5 WW 70 M 26 YW 124.

The fourth and fifth placing bulls were both sired by Sitz Upward 307R.

Placing fourth with a WDA of 3.67 was lot 293, consigned by Brand Angus of Lake City, Minn. His EPDs were BW 3.0 WW 56 M 31 YW 106.

Lot 333 rounded out the group with a WDA of 3.65. The bull was consigned by Flying AJ Ranch of Stevensville, Mont. and has EPDs of BW 1.6 WW 67 M 33 YW 118.

Angus White Tag Group 2

Two bulls tied for the top average WDA in the Angus white tag group two, with a WDA of 3.89.

Lot 571, consigned by Harrison Angus Ranch of Boyd, Mont. and sired by S Chisum 6175, has EPDs of BW 3.1 WW 60 M 37 YW 105.

Lot 577, also consigned by Harrison Angus Ranch, was sired by R E B Freedom 1156 and has EPDs of BW 2.2 WW 55 M 26 YW 98.

Harrison Angus Ranch also consigned the second highest WDA in the group, with a WDA of 3.84. Lot 573 was sired by Connealy Consensus 7229 and has EPDs of BW 1.9 WW 63 M 24 YW 107.

A WDA of 3.73 marked the third-highest bulls in the category, lot 605 and lot 548.

Lot 605, who was also sired by Connealy Consensus 7220, was consigned by Deppe Angus of Waverly, Iowa and has EPDs of BW 1.9 WW75 M 23 YW 124.

Lot 548, sired by Summitcrest Darth 1537, was consigned by Earhart Farms of Powell and has EPDs of BW 1.6 WW 63 M 25 YW 119.

In fourth of the group was lot 517 with a WDA of 3.72. The bull was consigned by McCall Land and Cattle Co. of Albuquerque, N.M. and sired by JMC Answer 9485 529B and has EPDs of BW 3.1 WW 66 M 24 YW 114.

Rounding out the category was lot 570, a bull also consigned by Harrison Angus Ranch of Boyd, Mont., with a WDA of 3.67. The bull was sired by S Chisum 6175 and ha EPDs of BW 2.7 WW 58 M 34 YW 101.

Angus ADG Sire Group Leaders

Flat Mountain Ranch of Menahga, Minn. topped the ADG of Angus sire groups, with an average ADG of 123. SydGenCC&7 sired lots 617, 618 and 619.

In a close second were lots 633, 636 and 637, sired by Basin Payweight 023W. The bulls posted an ADG of 121 and were consigned by Sioux Pass Angus of Lodge Grass, Mont. 

An average ADG of 116 secured the third spot in the group for lots 651, 652 and 653. 7X Angus Ranch of Alva consigned these three sons of Prime Maker Plus.

Tied in the fourth place spot with an average ADG of 114 were lots 542, 543 and 544 and lots 333, 334 and 335.

Lot 542, 543 and 544 were consigned by Coombs Cattle of Riverside, Utah and sired by GAR Predestined.

Sitz Upward 307R sired lots 333, 334 and 335, which were consigned by Flying AJ Ranch of Stevensville, Mont.

Angus WDA Sire Group Leaders

Harrison Angus Ranch of Boyd, Mont. took the top three places for leading WDA among Angus sire group.

With a WDA of 3.69 and placing first were lots 567, 576 and 577. The bulls were sired by REB Freedom 1156.

In second were three sons of Connealy Consensus 7229 with an average WDA of 3.66.

Three sons of S Chisum 6175, lots 570, 571 and 572, took the third place spot.

Consigned by Deppe Angus of Waverly, Iowa, the fourth place average WDA went to three sons of Connealy Consensus 7229, lot 603, 604 and 605, with a WDA of 3.51.

Rounding out the WDA leaders for Angus sire groups was lots 333, 334 and 335, consigned by Flying AJ Ranch of Stevensville, Mont. The bulls were sired by Sitz Upward 307R. 

While the cattle industry is heading toward expansion, Steve Koontz, who is a professor of ag economics at Colorado State University (CSU), tells producers it is not the time to get into the business. 

“I’m talking people out of buying heifers as much as I can,” he says. “We should do something else with our money the next two years because I think heifers will be cheaper in three years. If we do want to buy heifers and need 100 – buy 25.”


Koontz reflects on bred heifer prices that are now between $2,000 to $3,000 and may go even higher this year. 

“When we work the budget, we need to consider how many years we want to work for nothing before we purchase a heifer,” he says. “Take that money out of the business and invest it into Vanguard or other resources.”

Feeder cattle market prices seem to be infinite, he continues. “What will feeder calves be worth? It’s whatever the industry folks want to pay. I have no idea what they will bring. 2014 was the perfect storm – a once in a lifetime thing,” he continues. “The factors influencing that market are different now.”

Peak prices

The economist thinks the cattle market may have reached its peak. 

“With 90 percent lean hamburger at three dollars a pound, restaurants are now having a hard time showing a profit. They are compensating by serving other meats like pulled pork sandwiches,” Koontz explains. “Brazil may get more restaurant business in the U.S. because they can also produce lean hamburger, and they can do it cheaper.”

At some point, the industry will also need to address the increasing size of carcass weights. Koontz says packers are currently taking enormous cattle because they need inventory. However, it’s hurting domestic demand. 

“Customers don’t really want to eat those gigantic ribeyes that are one-half-inch thick. Ultimately, it’s going to hurt us,” he emphasizes. 

Since statistics show Americans eat one-half of their meals away from home, and those are prepared by someone else, the food service industry will be appointed the task of developing ways to utilize those oversized cuts of meat. 

Competing markets

In the meantime, Koontz expects more pressure from the pork and poultry industries this year as they step up production. 

“The strength of domestic demand kept beef prices up in 2014, and I haven’t seen them back off three dollar hamburger yet, but I think it’s coming,” he says. “The high price of beef is going to be pressured by pork and poultry. I expect to see the beef industry lose some of its market share to those meats this year.”

Beef prices in 2015 may also come down relative to the volume of pork that is produced and how much they can export out from under beef. 

“We had very strong exports in 2011, but since then exports have been soft and haven’t shown any growth,” he notes. 

“The beef market this year would be strengthened by international demand and trade, but I don’t think the dollar will let that happen this year. That is the news we will need to hear to see higher fed cattle prices,” he says. 

Domestic demand

Fed cattle prices have held strong because of domestic demand. Koontz is predicting a range of $1.45 to $1.65 this year. 

“I think the fed cattle market will have lots of volatility in the first quarter until we figure out how high those record meat prices will go and what we can afford to pay for cattle so the packer can make a margin. The packer has been clobbered by this market since last fall,” he says.

There are indications that ranchers may be starting to expand. Beef cow slaughter is pretty light, Koontz says, and dairy cow slaughter is what has made up for the lean meat demand. 

“Looking at beef cow numbers and heifer replacements, I think we will be hard pressed to expand the herd one percent this year,” he notes.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Brush, Colo. – Retaining calves to market at a better time can add value, according to University of Nebraska Extension Educator Erin Laborie. Laborie shared information about matching calves to a backgrounding system during the West Central Cattlemen’s Day in Brush, Colo. recently.

Laborie sees several reasons for producers to background their weaned calves.

Most importantly, the calves can be marketed at a more favorable time, instead of in the fall after weaning when most calves are sold.

For producers who grow their own feed, it provides an outlet for inexpensive and homegrown feedstuffs.

It also provides a way for ranchers to add weight to small and medium-framed calves.


The most important consideration when deciding to background is whether or not it is profitable. Laborie said producers need to determine their cost of gain versus the value of gain.

She shared an example where a 600-pound steer was valued at $1.60 a pound for a total of $960. If this calf was backgrounded to a total weight of 850 pounds, it would be worth $1,105, figuring $1.30 per pound.

If the initial value of $960 is subtracted from the final value of $1,105, the difference is $145.  If the calf gains 150 pounds and that amount is divided into $145. The difference is 97 cents per pound, which would be the value of gain, she said.

Growth curve

Producers also need to be aware of the growth curve, which is based on what stage cattle develop muscle, bone and fat.

“Calves will need more pounds of feed to put on pounds of fat versus lean tissue,” Laborie explained. “Fat has a higher energy density than lean tissue. In the growth curve, tissue development differs based on frame size.”

“A large-frame steer will need more days on feed to reach the same backfat point as a smaller-frame animal,” she continued.

Producers may find two calves weigh the same, but the frame score of these calves could be vastly different, which impacts their maximum potential for growth.

Laborie said frame size, muscle, genetics and age all contribute to the number of days the calf should be on feed and what type of implant it should receive.

Finishing steers

Producers also should be aware that marbling accumulates at a consistent rate during growth, not just during the finishing phase. Therefore, if a calf is finished too quickly or not quickly enough, it will impact the final yield grade.

“That is why large, continental breeds are better suited for high concentrate diets, rather than preconditioning,” she said.

“There is no single system that fits all cattle types,” Laborie warned.

“Once a producer determines the target average daily gain, balance the ration appropriately and provide the ingredients necessary to achieve that average daily gain,” she told producers. “Producers must know the nutrient content of the feedstuff they plan to use. If the rancher is guessing and not testing, the calves will not have optimal gain. That will impact market time and the profitability of the backgrounding program.”

Use the right implant

Laborie shared some data on selecting growth implants.

For calves that are on a program to gain 1.75 to 2.25 pounds per day, implants should be low in strength, Laborie said. Moderate potency implants are for calves gaining 2.25 to 2.75 pounds a day and intermediate potency, 2.75 to 3.25 pounds per day.

Laborie said implants increase frame size, delay fat and increase potential gain.

“It may not be cost effective to implant calves gaining less than 1.75 pounds a day,” she explained. “But, I would recommend implanting calves that have an average daily gain above 1.75 pounds.”

Making the decision

“Producers walk a fine line when they background cattle,” Laborie continued. “For calves that are roughed for too long and then put on a high concentrate diet, their rate of gain can exceed the rate they accumulate marbling, which negatively impacts quality grade.”

On the other hand, cattle that grow too fast can have a lower end weight.

Producers should try to manipulate their feeding strategy to change the endpoint of the cattle. The backgrounding program should be dictated by resources and the target market, Laborie said.

It is also dependent on the price structure of the industry, she noted.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..