News

Gelbvieh Association, IMI Global Release Balancer® Edge Source and Age Verification Program

BROOMFIELD, CO – The American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) is pleased to announce a recent partnership with IMI Global and introduce Balancer® Edge, a source and age verification program for feeder cattle sired by Gelbvieh and Balancer bulls.

The Balancer® Edge program requires a minimum of 75% of the sires used to be registered Gelbvieh and Balancer bulls, and these bulls must be a minimum of 25% Gelbvieh genetics. The verification process for this program requires producers to submit first and last calf born date, head count support, and registration papers of the sires to verify Gelbvieh genetics.

The Source and Age Verification (SAV) program has been in practice in the beef industry since 2004, and continues to play an important role in adding value to U.S. beef producers. Balancer® Edge meets the SAV base requirement for cattle to be eligible for marketing into the China Export Verification program, the Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) program for the EU, Verified Natural Beef, GAP 5-step Animal Welfare and others. In addition, Balancer® Edge documentation is eligible for establishing age of animals at the processor and is also now an accepted method of determining maturity of animals for grading purposes – ensuring they fall into the A maturity category if they are under 30 months of age at harvest.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Balancer® Edge program to add new market opportunities to their progressive producer base,” said Doug Stanton, VP of Business Development at IMI Global. “Buyers continue to push for more options when it comes to cattle marketing. They are looking to maximize their value opportunity with an animal by having many directions to go with it, and verification programs add that kind of flexibility. The Balancer® Edge program will open new doors for producers to access markets they may not have been eligible for before, bringing more value back home to the ranch.”

IMI Global has been offering verification services to the beef industry since 1996 and is the uncontested leader in those services today. IMI is an accredited, independent verification company who evaluates specific attributes or practices associated with livestock production and provides an unbiased assessment of the ability of any animal or group of animals to meet those specific standards or claims.

“Balancer® Edge provides the opportunity for producers utilizing Gelbvieh and Balancer® genetics to participate in a breed identified program and have their production practices verified to be able to add value and gain additional marketing opportunities for their cattle,” said Tom Strahm, AGA commercial marketing director. “In addition, IMI Global’s recent partnership with the IGS Feeder Profit Calculator™ allows producers to quantify the genetic merit of the animal’s they are selling.”

The American Gelbvieh Association is a progressive beef cattle breed association dedicated to the recording, promoting, and improving Gelbvieh-influenced cattle. The Gelbvieh and Balancer breeds are well known throughout the beef industry for their maternal strengths and superior growth. With these attributes, Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle fit well into a crossbreeding system and provide genetics that work for the commercial cattle business.

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Future of the Beef Industry by Scott Starr

AGA recently held the 47th Annual National Convention. All who attended the event left with a clear vision of the future of the Gelbvieh and Balancer business. Growing pains surrounding the
implementation of genomics were discussed. However, the future is incredible with the promise of BOLT, the single-step genetic evaluation, and all it can offer the largest beef animal database in the world in which Gelbvieh is a part of. Attendees also got a look at how Gelbvieh and Balancer fit into the beef industry and uphold the standards discovered in the National Beef Quality Audit. Marketing alliances with industry leaders like Superior Livestock Auction, Western Video Market, and Cattle Country Video were a few companies mentioned. The current breed growth and membership growth that the AGA is experiencing further validates that our Meeting Modern Industry Demands strategic plan is focusing on the needs of every breeder involved. The strategic plan is further positioning Gelbvieh and Balancer as a leader and with everyone pulling on the same end of the rope, such cooperation will continue to strengthen our position and enlarge Gelbvieh critical mass.

Science continues to drive the industry, but it is proven that on-ranch data is imperative for the technology to continue. In visiting with a friend of mine, Dan Warner, we were trying to think outside the box for being a leader in breed growth without slowing generational turn around. I wanted to share this idea with you to spark your imagination. The idea we were working on was collecting 20 oocytes from a set of known females, mating to 20 different sires, performing a biopsy on each embryo to gather genomic information for the more difficult to collect data, e.g., carcass data. In the discussion, let’s take it one step further and implant those embryos into recipient cows, grow and harvest all progeny and collect all phenotypes from birth to harvest. Wow! We
could excel all other breeds for data collection, validate genomics like no other, and set Gelbvieh and Balancer up to meet the modern industry expectations for reliable genetic prediction and be at the forefront of global marketing. This is the shortened version of all we talked about, but we should all have the goal of keeping our breed, operation, and ourselves viable into the future.

No matter if you’re a commercial or registered producer, we all have the same goal: an unmatched beef eating experience. The U.S. beef industry owns the high quality beef sector on a global scale. Much of this achievement is due to our infrastructure of having the genetics, feeding capabilities, and harvest facilities all with the safety that is second to no other country. We need to keep the foot on the accelerator to keep this global edge. One way to help keep the competition at bay is to get out and search for breed leading genetics that fit into the environment and the much bigger picture of the beef industry. If we keep the big picture as a goal, we will find our target. Don’t get caught up on the little things, we must have our commercial producers’ target in mind when we make all mating decisions. As technology advances, they will have individual data on every operation in the U.S., and let me tell you the more advanced harvest and feeding facilities already do! So get out and find the industry-leading Gelbvieh and Balancer genetics that will take us to the target.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes to ponder:
• Communication is a must; 90 percent of being married is shouting, “WHAT!?” from another room.
• Whenever you feel like giving up, think of all the people that would love to see you fail.
• “It’s better to change and fail than to attempt to hold the status quo.” – TD Jakes

The Gift of Knowledge by Angela Vesco

Knowledge is power. How many times have you heard that in your lifetime? How many times have you seen it come to fruition? Knowledge about an industry, a specific subject, or whatever is usually what gives people the power to succeed. How do you acquire knowledge?

I am sure that I would hear a different response from everyone. But what it really boils down to is that you acquire knowledge by being studious. You take the time to read, to listen, to absorb, to think, and then put it into practice.

So why am I talking about knowledge? Well, we are coming up on the spring bull sale season and there is a lot of data that goes into putting a bull sale together. When you print your catalog,
you probably have expected progeny differences (EPDs), some genomic-enhanced EPDs, percentile rankings (at least I hope all seedstock suppliers print percentile rankings), and ratios. But, what good is data if no one understands it?

The beef industry continues to advance and finds more ways to select for higher quality genetics and as a result we have an ever-growing repertoire of genetic selection tools. How many of your
commercial producers fully understand how to effectively utilize those genetic tools? That is where you, the seedstock supplier, can give the gift of knowledge.

Educating your customers on the genetic tools you offer is one of the best things you can do from a customer service standpoint. You want them to be able to make educated decisions when they are buying your bulls. The more knowledge commercial producers have, the better they will be able to select bulls and manage their cowherds. Is it not one of the goals of the beef industry, which you are apart of, to make the fastest genetic progress possible? If your commercial customers understand EPDs, know that genomics enhance the reliability of EPDs, and why you print ratios for weights rather than actual weights, then they can help move the industry closer to that goal of genetic progress.

So how many opportunities do you have to educate your customers? Well, you have your catalog, for one. I know that adding more pages to your catalog can increase the cost, but I would encourage every seedstock producer to have a page explaining what each EPD is and its intended use. Also, a great time to visit with your customers is the night before the sale. Many of them are traveling in the day before to look at the bulls first thing in the morning so why not take that opportunity to hold a free dinner the night before; everyone likes free food. This provides a great opportunity to go over your process for selecting the genetics and other relevant information. Bull delivery is another opportunity to visit with customers and answer any questions they have.
Of course, not one of your customers is like the other. There are varying levels of knowledge so you will have to adjust your conversations accordingly to ensure that you are giving them the gift of knowledge.

Now, in order for you to give the gift of knowledge, you must possess that knowledge first. Giving yourself the gift of knowledge is also very valuable. Educate yourself on what is happening in the industry. Read those magazine articles, attend meetings within your county or state, read the proceedings and attend the Beef Improvement Federation annual convention, attend the national conventions of your breed association. Do all that you can to understand all the aspects of our industry.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Attending Local Shows Equates to Great Breed Promotion by Jesse Henson

Hi, everyone! Hope you are having a great fall thus far. I know it’s a busy time of year, but I wanted to discuss a little bit about junior livestock shows. Most local and state fairs are winding
up by this point, and our juniors have represented well. I have been fortunate enough this fall to travel to a lot of fairs and shows, and I have to say, it is always refreshing to see our Gelbvieh breed
represented at those shows.

I think that it is very important for our American Gelbvieh Junior Association members to attend local and state shows. While we all love our AGJA Junior Classic and other national shows, and enjoy being around our Gelbvieh family, these mixed breed shows are the best time to promote the breed.

Living in Oklahoma for the past three years, I’ve been able to attend a lot more junior livestock shows. What I’ve noticed from these shows is that whether we’re talking about kids from the same FFA or 4-H chapter, or kids that have never met, they seem to create friendships at these shows. From this, families and different breeds start mingling and people start seeing other people’s cattle. I can say it’s true for Oklahoma at least, but when this happens the quality Gelbvieh cattle that juniors bring to these shows always impress them. This leads to great promotion for the breed.

I know some more local shows fire back up in the spring, so just some thoughts to keep in mind. The more we can display and exhibit our cattle around the local, state, or national level, the
more promotion it offers for the breed. And while the American Royal is now behind us, the fall and winter will be filled with the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, and the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, which showcases the breed at the National Gelbvieh and Balancer National Show.

Over the Fence with Brad Bennett by Megan Slater

Brad Bennett is the extension educator for livestock evaluation and youth programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Brad serves as the UNL livestock judging team coach as well as the meat animal evaluation team coach in addition to teaching several courses. The primary focus of Brad’s extension program is youth education using animals as the vehicle to create knowledge, teamwork, critical thinking, and communication skills.

The American Gelbvieh Junior Association (AGJA) was grateful to have Brad join the AGJA at the 2017 Big Red Classic in Grand Island, Nebraska. He served as the announcer during both show days and helped coordinate and officiate the livestock judging contest.

What programs or opportunities does UNL offer students looking to seek a career in the agriculture industry?
In the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, we have 30 degree programs preparing students for careers in everything from animals to plants, soil to climate, golf to business, mechanization to leadership, and food to forensic science. We provide individualized academic advising to all our students so they can tailor their education and experiences to their interests and career goals. In addition to a wide range of majors, we have a program called Ensuring Your Future that guarantees participating students will have a job offer in their interest area within six months of graduating or we will pay to retrain them. To make this possible, we have our own career expert to help students with their resumé and interviewing skills as well as introducing them to numerous employers who attend our twice yearly career fairs. We are committed to student success at every level, which includes providing students with fabulous facilities, internationally recognized faculty, and significant scholarship dollars. We also offer the opportunity for students to create their own businesses through our Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship, get involved in an incredible line-up of clubs and organizations, conduct cutting-edge research with faculty mentors, or experience the world in far-flung locations through Education Abroad.

What does UNL look for in prospective students?
In a single word, we look for passion. That doesn’t mean you must know exactly what you want to do in life. More importantly, have an outlook that allows you to find something you love, dedicate yourself to excellence, and always work to make yourself and those around you better. We have a set of world class academic programs, student involvement, and campus engagement programs that can give you all the knowledge you’ll ever need. But we can’t replace dedication, drive, and passion. They say “there’s no place like Nebraska” and that’s all because our students come in with that passion and they transform it into something great. We’d be happy to host you on a visit and to have you as a part of the Husker family.

How do junior programs, such as the AGJA, 4-H, and FFA, help to prepare youth for future success?
In my opinion, nothing can replace the value of involvement in junior programs. Speaking from personal experience, it was involvement in 4-H, FFA, and junior breed associations that have opened up every opportunity I have ever had, both in college and my professional life. Often, we think of these associations as a way to show livestock and hopefully come home with some ribbons and banners, and that may be true. But what you will realize as your show career is coming to an end is that the livestock weren’t just there to be shown – they were there as vehicles to mold you into the person you are. Late nights in the barn, countless hours of work, and competing on the biggest stages build accountability, work ethic, and a competitive spirit. But they also instill communication, problem solving, and decision-making skills that are key components to anyone’s success in the future, whether you know that at the time or not. Beyond that, the network of people from all over the country that you have the chance to interact with will become your peers and mentors in the agriculture industry moving forward. I’ll paraphrase Jason Elmore’s comments at the conclusion of junior nationals that I thought best summarized how important these organizations and events are. “There is a lot of negativity in the world today. I wish everyone would witness what happens at a junior nationals and embrace the positivity we are building here.”

Why do you think it is important for youth to be involved in their junior breed association?
You’re never supposed to answer a question with a question, but hopefully we can make an exception this time. Would you grow up wanting to play professional baseball without first playing youth baseball? I think the answer would be no 100 percent of the time, and I’m a firm believer that it’s the same for those who want to be involved in the agriculture industry. Even if running a 500-head Gelbvieh seedstock operation isn’t in your long-term plans, chances are you’ll want to be involved in agriculture in some form and it’s organizations like the AGJA that will show you all the opportunities that exist in agriculture.

How does livestock judging prepare youth for a future career in the agriculture industry?
We hear from employers all the time that experiences outside of the classroom are huge factors in deciding who to hire. Livestock judging both at the youth and college level is a way to give you those experiences. Judging has grown into much more than learning how to place four head, even though that’s still a major component. It’s also communication, problem solving, and decision-making skills that can be near perfected by devoting your time to judging programs. There aren’t many other activities that can teach you to evaluate a situation, arrive at a conclusion, and then confidently explain why in a matter of minutes. When you enter your career that same process becomes a staple of your everyday life.

In our program, the focus is on building better people. When thinking about the list of pioneers that have brought the livestock industry to where it is today, many will trace the reason for their success back to livestock judging.

What do you see is the biggest challenge facing youth in agriculture? What can they do now to prepare?
Challenges are simply opportunities for the next generation. The agriculture landscape is changing rapidly and it’s up to youth to understand where we’re at today and where we need to be in 10, 25, or 50 years. Often, we can get bogged down by what’s happening right now. I would challenge youth to always be forward-thinking. We need you to be innovative, willing to adapt, and knowledgeable enough to lead this industry well into the future. There’s not a silver bullet that can prepare you for everything you’ll encounter in life, but no matter what, ask questions, reflect on what does and doesn’t work, and always be willing to step outside of your comfort zone for the sake of progress.

American Gelbvieh Association Provides Genetic Tools for Ranchers

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The American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) is excited to announce the launch of the Smart Select Service data management system that provides genetic tools to aid commercial cattlemen in the selection process. Smart Select Service is non-breed specific and is available for all commercial producers who want to increase the genetic value of their herds for the potential to increase profitability

Smart Select Service has the goal of being the best value in genetic management; commercial producers can enroll females for $1 per head. This small enrollment fee equips Smart Select Service members, also known as performance members, with a herd management database to manage all cowherd data from individual performance information to exposure and vaccination information. Herd management reports will be made available to performance members including herd summary reports, dam and progeny reports, and herdsire reports.

In addition, the AGA will be offering performance members access to the feeder profit index (FPI) and Stayability score on both males and females with appropriate data reported. FPI is an economic selection index developed to aid producers in selecting sires whose progeny will perform in the feedlot and on the rail. Stayability scores are used to gauge reproductive longevity of the herd. These scores predict the probability a sire’s daughters will stay productive within a herd past six years of age. These tools will be predicted through the multi-breed cattle evaluation run bi-annually and by doing so, increase the accuracy of prediction of these two parameters to accelerate genetic improvement.

Performance members will be able to take advantage of consultation offered by trained AGA staff. Producers can also take advantage of DNA testing such as parent verification on all animals or the Maternal Edge Female Profile on Gelbvieh influenced animals at the respective test’s additional cost.

“It’s an exciting time in the beef industry. AGA is proud to offer the Smart Select Service to the commercial cow-calf sector, and provide commercial producers with the tools necessary to select for increased genetic change to enhance their bottom line,” says Kelli Retallick, American Gelbvieh Association Data Services Coordinator.

Starting Monday August 17th, producers will be able to enroll females into the Smart Select Service online database. To learn more about the specifics of enrollment go to www.www.gelbvieh.org/smartselect.html or contact Kelli Retallick at 303-465-2333 or kellir@www.gelbvieh.org.

The American Gelbvieh Association is a progressive beef cattle breed association  representing 1,500 members and approximately 40,000 cows assessed annually in a performance-oriented total herd reporting system.