Executive Vice President Newsletter - August 2023

August 11th, 2023 
by Caydi Blaha

Early in July, A.J. Knowles, your Director of Breed Improvement, represented the American Brahman Breeders Association at the 2023 Beef Improvement Federation in Calgary, Canada. As I have related earlier, BIF was founded in 1968 and is an international organization of breed associations, universities, cattle producers, agribusiness, and governmental agencies dedicated to advancing beef cattle production through genetics. ABBA has been a member of BIF since the 1970s. The 2023 Symposium presentations can be found at this website: https://beefimprovement.org/2023-symposium/ There were a number of excellent topics that should be of interest to Brahman breeders, but I’ll admit some of them can get you (and me) in the weeds pretty fast! As I reviewed and listened to some of them online, I thought I’d review one or two here.

In the Technical Breakout Session on Advancements in Genomics and Genetic Prediction, Dr. Mark Thallman’s “Rewarding Higher Quality Data with Higher Accuracies” was likely one of the best. Dr. Thallman is a geneticist at the US Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, NE, site of the USDA’s largest and longest-lived cattle research herd. His presentation discusses the value of “good data” but then goes on to discuss how “better data” could be collected. I realize that about midway some of you will get lost in the formulas, but he is trying to work out how to include AI and ET calves that can be compared fairly (they are raised by “alien” dams) with natural service and calves by “clean up” sires. These types of changes will benefit breeders that use this technology, but they will benefit smaller breeders the most.

In the Advancements for Producers Breakout Session, Dr. Troy Rowan of the University of Tennessee, asked the question “Why Should Commercial Producers be Interested in Genomics?” His two-word answer was “Sire Selection”. Bulls are usually the single highest valued asset on a commercial cow calf operation and young bulls do not have progeny data to improve the accuracy of their EPD and genomic testing reduces the risk of buying unproven bulls. Even though your bull buyer may not ask for EPDs or genomics, the interest is there.

Another that was of interest to me was by Dr. Larry Kuehn, also from US MARC, entitled “Quantifiable Differences to Inform Breed Selection and Use”. Dr. Kuehn works with the former 1000 Bull Project that sought to sample 1000 bulls from US beef breeds and to establish baselines for Across Breed EPD. There are now 1085 bulls (including 40 Brahman) in the program. Using Angus performance as a base (0.0) for various traits, each of the breeds have adjustment factors to add or subtract from their EPD for comparison. The American Brahman is NOT an Angus so I was not surprised by the results in his presentation except for one trait – ribeye area (REA). Brahman has the smallest EPD adjustment for REA, only 0.09 square inches, for any breed except one to compare to Angus EPD. In evaluating genetic trends (essentially the results of selection), the American Brahman has increased yearling weight by nearly 25 pounds in the last 20 years (but marbling score not at all).

There are many others that I skipped over, each presentation is recorded and has a synopsis and of course PowerPoints on the BIF website. I would encourage you to look some of them over.

In July I attended the 49th Annual Meeting of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association. I was asked to speak as part of a panel on beef cow supplementation and I also had a trade show booth. Ours was an ideal location in a main traffic area and not too far from the cash bar. Seriously though, we had a lot of traffic and even had a several Brahman breeders ask about paying their membership and either registering some heifers or certifying some F1s. On the last evening I was surprised by being given the ICA Cattlemen’s Council Award for my continued service to their association.

Later in July we had an Executive Committee meeting to admit several new members and discuss details of the 2023 National Show to be held at the Brazos County Expo in November. Kelvin Moreno called a meeting of the 100th Anniversary Planning Meeting to be held during the 2023 International Show in Houston. The exciting part was listening to those who had attended the 75th Anniversary Gala talk about all the excitement in the breed.

The Board Meeting in Bryan was, in my opinion, a tremendous success! You can read the full minutes on the website but I thought I would cover some of the points. The financial position of ABBA is good, it can always be better but even considering the reduced numbers of membership renewals and registrations, other areas are picking up the slack. All of the financials are in order, many thanks are due to Iridiana Ibarra and Kelvin Moreno.

The Marketing Committee selected Mr. Bill Howell to manage the 2024 ABBA National Brahman and F1 Sale. Some of you might know Bill, he knows a lot about our breed and is a huge fan of the F1 female. I know the sale is in good hands and I hope you will support it by consigning or buying, after all it is your sale to help you market your cattle. The ABBA office will still be the clearing house but the details are in Bill’s hands. It will be April 20th at the Brazos Livestock Commission Co. in Bryan but Bill is already hunting consignments.

The committee also wants award some “Bonus Bucks” at some selected F1 sales. These bonus bucks will be prize money awarded to the top three Brahman F1 lots (regardless of size or type), $300 to 1st place, $200 to 2nd place, and $100 to 3rd place. Five sales in Texas this fall were selected as a test and either committee members or AJ and I will be at each one to have a booth, evaluate the lots, and award the prize money. I suspect as interest grows this will take off to other states. I will do my best to get these dates and locations out to you.

The Breed Improvement and Research committee is gearing up for the conclusion of this year’s ABBA Bull Development Program at Texana Feeders. The bulls will be scanned (ultrasound), weighed, and physically evaluated this month. Next month they will be fertility tested and then in October, they plan on having some “marketing days” for consignors and potential buyers to meet and look over the bulls. These days are October 17th and 18th. The online sale will be October 21-22nd, 2024 on https://bestcattlesales.com/.

I wanted to share a couple of items that you may not have seen that Caydi Blaha put together as promotional pieces. In the past few months, I wrote the first of our F1 Newsletters that Terry Novak and the Marketing Committee asked me to complete. These were sent to the F1 Members and are on the ABBA website. From that Newsletter, with Victoria Lambert and The Brahman Journal’s help, we developed an ad that was run prepaid in the Southern Livestock Journal’s Directory (about 10,000 plus online). That Directory will be given to every person (about 2,200) who attends the 2023 TAMU Beef Cattle Short Course next week.

The promotional pieces that Caydi developed are included here, one is titled “Why Purebred Brahman?” and the other is titled “Value of Brahman Feeders”. I know that I probably should have run them by a committee before using them but I needed something flashy, fresh and fast. The “Purebred” flyer focuses on tropical adaptation and productivity while the “Brahman Feeder” flyer uses some actual feeding and carcass data from Brahman cross steers in the Texas A&M Ranch to Rail Program. The data is old but the message is new, Brahman feeders do as well as their non-Brahman counterparts in head-to-head comparisons and they make as much if not more profit!  If you have suggestions or comments, we can incorporate them in the future.