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Beef Producers Discuss Reproduction

25 March 2011

US - Beef cattle producers from Missouri and across the nation will go to Joplin, August 31 till September 1, to learn about Show-Me high-quality beef. The basics include using high-accuracy proven bulls to breed Missouri's top-quality cows.

A group of beef-reproduction educators from land-grant universities will hold one of their annual programs in the four-state region.

When they last came to Missouri, in 2006 at St. Joseph, 300 showed up. This time organizers plan for more.

"We have learned a lot about breeding high-quality cattle, which bring the premium prices, in recent years," said David Patterson, meeting host and University of Missouri Extension beef reproduction specialist.

The opening panel at the meeting will set the theme: "Using AI (artificial insemination) for More High-Quality Beef." Panelists include Patterson of Columbia; Mike Kasten, beef producer from Millersville, Missouri; and Larry Corah, vice president of Certified Angus Beef, Manhattan, Kansas. Respectively, they represent the scientist, the farmer and the marketer of high-quality beef.

Much of the Missouri program has grown out of the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer program. "Producers have learned there are extra profits not only in replacement heifers, but also in the steer mates sent to feed yards," Patterson said. "The steers, especially from the Show-Me-Select Tier Two program, have much higher performance in the feed yard. Tier Two steers hit the premium grids."

Packing plants, using the grids, pay bonuses for calves that attain higher USDA quality grades. Premiums can amount to $300 per animal.

The reproduction research has until now focused on developing protocols for fixed-time artificial insemination of cows and heifers. This allows breeding all cows in a herd on one day. This saves labor and shortens the calving season. The result is more uniform calves at weaning time.

"But we've found many more benefits," Mr Patterson said. "With AI, producers can use the top-rated bulls in their breed to gain genetic advantages." Now sires with thousands of offspring have proven accuracy in their ability to improve the herds.

"We've learned that feed yards that once held low regard for Missouri feeder cattle now seek those from top-producing herds. Our speakers will explain that change," Mr Patterson said.

"There are more research achievements coming," he added. "Jerry Taylor, MU researcher who helped decipher the bovine genome, will tell how to use what is known about the genetic map to produce more high-quality beef."

The main reason to do any of this is to make more money from the cow herd. MU economists Scott Brown of MU FAPRI and Joe Parcell from agricultural and applied economics will give the financial prospects from the herd to the national levels.

On the evening of Aug. 31, the group will visit the Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Mo., to see working demonstrations and hear a panel of producers of Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers. The local cattlemen's association will serve a steak dinner.

The overall meeting title is "Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle." The group holding the meeting is an eight-state "Beef Reproduction Task Force" from major land-grant universities.

The group was formed to coordinate the many beef breeding protocols being developed, Patterson said. The group's goal is to increase use of AI breeding.

The programme this year will be expanded to include feed yard operators who are finishing Missouri cattle.

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