Tuesday, August 8, 2017

TBCSC 2017: So You Want To Be A Seedstock Producer

John Ford
Executive Director
Santa Gertrudis Breeders International

Why be a seedstock producer?

We see producers that join a breed association, make a big splash, and then disappear.
Why?
This is likely because they were not focused on things that make a seedstock producer profitable and successful in the long run.

We talk about successful youth programs, premier sales, and national champions. But we do not talk to them about the complexities of seedstock production. We do not talk about producing cattle for a commercial customer.

We have to focus on performance.
We have to focus on data collection.
We have to focus on new tools available to us.

The mom-and-pop grocery has given way to 5 major grocery chains. Those customers are looking for a consistent meat product. Those grocery chains are telling the four packing plants what their customers are wanting. Those four packers are talking to the 5% of the feedyards that feed 80% of the industries cattle. The feedyards are talking to the commercial cattlemen and asking them to produce efficient,productive cattle that will be profitable for the feedyard, packing plant, retailer and meeting the customers need. Those commerical producers are then turning to the seedstock producers and asking them to help reach these goals.


Seedstock producers develop breeding plans and stick with the plan.
A breeding plan provides a clear picture of herd direction and allows informed breeding decisions to be made. We need a road map. The successful seedstock producer has a road map. They know what they are producing.
If you get to chasing fades, you will see your program going backwards.

Long-term economic viability depends on focusing on improving traits that either lower the cost of production or increase revenue.

"Technology has changed the game." Ford said. We have the tools available now that you can identify those animals that produce profitable cattle.

Breed associations are now giving breeders power tools.

Objectives for animal improvement can only be reached based on sound genetic information and performance data.
Genetic selection tools have not eliminated the need to measure and collect data.

Seedstock producers speed genetic progress by using reproductive tools and commit to artificial insemination. In beef breeding, we can't turn over generations very quickly, especially compared to competing protein sources. But, reproductive technologies allow us to improve our genetics. Seedstock producers can use embryo transfer, In Vitro Fertilitation, and artificial insemination. Artificial insemination is one of the most underutilized tools in seedstock production.

"You need to be fluent in the language of your breed," Ford said. What was your breed's average weaning weight last year? What was it ten years ago? You also need to be fluent in your herd.
Further, you need to be fluent in other breeds. When someone is taking about retaining heifers and another breed's terminal index, you need to point out to them the issue here.

Who is your target bull buyer? If your target audience if everybody, your potential buyer is nobody. Most times, bull customers live within 200 miles of their seedstock supplier. Know your neighbors and friends. Know their operations.

Seedstock producers are customer oriented. In today's marketplace it is not about the breed, but the breeder. Customers are more like partners in our genetic package.

There is not a better marketing tool than producers that can say they will buy back their customers calves.

Visibility is the greatest marketing tool. Websites, social media platforms, and print media are essential in today's busy environment. However, no form of advertising impacts marketing like industry networking.

Seedstock production is complex. It is data driven. Our goal is to accomplish genetic improvement to affect the industry from producer, feedyard, packer, retailer, and consumer.


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