Executive Vice President Newsletter - May 2023

May 24th, 2023 
by Caydi Blaha

Dear ABBA Members,

Hard to believe it’s been a month since I last wrote. I try to make a list of things to cover in this email so you know what is happening.

Iridiana and I went to Tampico, Mexico to the LIX Exposicion Nacional de Ganado Cebu Show April 11-15th. We attended a Brahman Field Day hosted by Primo Castillo and his family at Rancho Las Huastecas in San Luis Potosi the day before the show. I had the privilege to talk about the history and genetics of the American Brahman (Grey and Red) breed and their performance on the pasture as well as on feed and gave a TV interview. Armelinda Ibarra was there as a guest, as were members of the International Committee including the committee Chairperson Carolyn Falgout.

It is my philosophy that we need both a strong domestic market, as well as a strong international one. Anything sold internationally is one less that needs to be sold domestically. However, the domestic market is my principal focus since it affects more ABBA breeders directly.

AJ and I went to Florida twice this month. Our first trip was to attend the Florida Brahman Breeders Association Field Day, Meeting and Sale. We got to meet Larry Barthle and several other Brahman breeders. The field day included some presentations by the University of Florida (UF) Animal Science faculty and a tour of the UF North Farm Brahman herd. Marcus Shackleford announced the sale and he was amazing on his recital of the pedigrees and even shared a funny story about Mr. Sloan Williams.

Our next trip was more recent, AJ and I attended the 2023 UF Beef Cattle Short Course (BCSC), also in Gainesville. The two-day event was very well attended and had a number of interesting presentations on how to improve feeder calf value, external parasite recognition, use of by products for cattle feed (distillers’ grains, cotton byproducts and algae), a discussion of beef on dairy (breeding dairy cows to beef bulls), among others.

At the UF Beef Teaching Unit South, the UF faculty conducted some very excellent demonstrations on cow size, liquid feed, pasture weeds, and supplemental feeds. Dr. Todd Thrift, UF Professor and Extension Beef Specialist (and a personal friend), and Jesse Savell had an excellent interactive demonstration on cow and calf size. Most folks missed the weights of the cows by more than 200 pounds!

AJ and I took the opportunity to drive to the North Farm to visit with the manager there, Danny Driver. It was warm and humid but the three of us piled into his truck for a tour of the Brahman herds on the station. The UF Brahman herd is a teaching and research herd (note the emphasis on “teaching”) and the research focuses on age at puberty, marbling and tenderness. Eight Florida Brahman breeders contributed genetics to the initial population. The 200 or so mature cows plus 50 yearlings and weaners were pretty uniform phenotypically and almost all of the cattle had been genotyped since they are used in their genomics research. Danny was an excellent guide who knew both the history of the station and the cattle. 

The last day of the UF BCSC consisted of short research reports including Dr. Mateescu’s on “Improving Accuracy of Genomic Selection for Carcass and Meat Quality”, Dr. Mario Binelli’s “Predicting Puberty in Brahman Heifers and Bulls”, and Dr. Thrift’s “Impact of Implant Strategy on Brahman Sired Steer Performance, Carcass Traits and Tenderness”. Dr. Mateescu’s research on tenderness in Brahman versus Angus cattle indicates a large over lap in tenderness between the two breeds. Additionally, her work indicates that one well known genetic marker for tenderness in Bos taurus has the opposite effect on tenderness in Brahman. Markers should be used in the breed in which they are developed. No single marker is a strong indicator of tenderness. Dr. Binelli’s research is looking at metabolites (amino acids, fats, and other compounds) in the blood to determine if there are differences in heifers and bulls that either come into estrus or produce semen earlier compared to those that do later. He had several candidates.

The last presentation of the day was by Dr. Thrift who reported some very early statistics on a set of steers that were 67% Brahman and 33% Angus (they were genotyped) that had been on feed and placed into one of 4 implant regimes. The first three were implanted in different combinations while the 4th and last was not implanted. The average for all four groups is shown in the table below.

No. HeadDOFFinal WeightADG% of ChoiceYield Grade

As expected, the unimplanted group had the highest percent Choice (68%) but also the lowest ADG. There is a trade off that has to be determined between grade and gain when using implant strategies in the feedyard. Implants that you use in calves before weaning do not affect carcass quality. I know that when Todd gets his data set analyzed, I’ll make sure that we can use it.

In between trips to FL, your ABBA staff were invited guests (along with several other Brahman breeders) to the Texas A&M Animal Science Department Awards Banquet. Dr. Jim Sanders, longtime teacher, researcher and Brahman supporter has retired after nearly a half century of service and ABBA presented him with a bronze bull in recognition of his service to ABBA. Dr. Sanders created a scholarship for students and in order to help fund it, ABBA raised the initial $7500 from a few of his friends, colleagues and former students to present to him at the same time. It was quite a surprise and ABBA received a lot of recognition. In addition, we were the only breed association at the ceremony. If you are interested in contributing to the scholarship fund, please contact me.

AJ and I went to the Texas A&M Research Field Day at McGregor, Texas in early May. The Research center was actually a Navy ordinance storage facility during World War II and Korea and has been a TAMU Research Station since 1947. It was the site of the Zebu Breed Evaluation Program in the 1980s and 90s that evaluated Grey and Red Brahman sired calves with those by Gir, Indu-Brazil, and Nelore sires. There was a lot of positive Brahman research and interaction by the A&M scientists and the ranchers attending the Field Day.

I will see some of you at the Board and Committee Meetings in Lake Charles next month. Many of the committees have already met and have plans for the upcoming year. The World Brahman Congress committee will have a meeting there as well. 

Finally, there are a couple of things that I would like to address. Long before I was offered the position as your Executive Vice President, members complained of a lack of transparency. I can tell you that all organizations have that issue. Since I have been in this position, members that have called or visited me have gotten answers, maybe sometimes not the answer they wanted, but your staff and I have worked to make this a nonissue. Some of the answers were not of our doing, the issue having been decided before I arrived. However, concerns are often not raised directly to me or to your officers or board but to social media or group and it makes often a simple concern much worse. I want to address two of those here.

ABBA needed to change and add staff to various accounts (including me) earlier in the year. This raised some red flags in the federal banking circles and ABBA was required to respond to an email sent in February about the changes. Neither Iridiana nor I ever got any email (apparently it was sent to my predecessor but no can tell me for sure). Even our local bank had no idea of the request. As a result of our lack of response all of ABBA’s banks accounts were frozen. As soon as we realized the problem, Iridiana and I quickly responded. The local branch was apologetic and offered to cover any insufficient funds our checks might have caused. It was not acceptable that it happened but we had no idea that anything was required of us. Now you know. ABBA is quite solvent.

Secondly and more recently, ABBA had committed verbally to hold their 2023 National Show in Abilene, Texas at the Taylor County Expo Center. The total cost (awards, judges, scales, venue, etc.) to hold the show at that location was considered to be too high by the ABBA Executive Committee so the contract was not signed. The ABBA Executive Committee has decided to move the date and location to November 7-10, 2023 in Bryan, TX at the Brazos Valley Expo. We will have more information in regards to the show soon and it will be posted at www.brahman.org. Not everything ABBA is involved in will turn a profit, in fact ABBA is a nonprofit organization, but it is financially responsible for the officers of ABBA to consider all expenses. 

As always, I would like to hear from you. If you have a field day or a meeting let me know, I’ll try to attend if you want me. One upcoming activity that might be of interest is the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course on the campus in College Station, August 7 -9. ABBA will have a booth, will be sponsoring one of the sessions, and AJ and I will be speaking about issues of interest to Brahman breeders. For more information visit https://beefcattleshortcourse.com/

Joe C. Paschal, PhD
Executive Vice President
American Brahman Breeders Association