Improving Profits Through Reproduction:
A Seedstock Producer's Perspective
Seedstock operation shares how reproductive technologies increase profits for operation and customers.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dec. 3, 2012) — Use of advanced reproductive technologies helps keep a large family operation and its customers in business to achieve three goals, said Danny Schiefelbein of Schiefelbein Farms, Kimball, Minn. Breeding about 1,000 females each year, the family seeks to:
- 1. provide for the family, giving an option for family members to be involved;
- 2. be profitable; and
- 3. create a quality product.
He likened the operation's genetic strategy to that of a National Football League (NFL) franchise. There are core players (in his case, the 700 spring-synchronized cows), and there are the high-dollar draft choices, which are the popular, but unproven bulls. The beauty of artificial insemination (AI), he explained, is that it lets them avoid drafting a new unproven bull, and allows them to use the high-accuracy, proven "Peyton Mannings" to improve the genetics within their herd. This bull selection has helped them maintain birth weights, increase weaning weights and improve carcass quality, all of which help their commercial customers, too.
Another advantage of using AI sires is that it helps increase the marketability of their cattle. Schiefelbein likened it to how a department store uses well-known brands to market their own products. Schiefelbein said their bull book is enhanced in much the same way.
Embryo transfer (ET) helps on different fronts. He said that they look for the "Heidi Klum" of their cows and match those cows with the "Tom Brady" of bulls and produce a genetic super-animal. The operation’s bottom-tier cows that perform well reproductively serve as recipient (recip) cows. This pushes up the overall quality of the operation, he explained, by having more calves out of the better individuals. Cooperator herds also provide a source of recip cows. Both herds benefit by marketing calves for more than commodity prices.
The family manages a 2,000-head feedlot, Schiefelbein shared. By feeding customers’ calves, they can collect the data to back up the value of their genetic program. He gave as an example data from three different loads of calves to show how Schiefelbein genetics work for their commercial customers. The first load reached 97% Choice, 50% Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) and 50% yield grade (YG) 4. The second load reached 100% Choice, 67% CAB and 0% YG 4. The third load reached 100% Choice, 73% CAB and 0% YG 4. The loads were from three different customers. Reproductive technology has helped increase consistency.
“These kind of forums are a great place to learn new things," Schiefelbein said. "You can say all you want about genetics and how they can be profitable, but there are so many other factors that affect the bottom line — of course, the market price swings, nutrition, herd health. All these things you have to take into consideration to help navigate through the tough times, and you will actually excel during the positive times.”
Schiefelbein spoke during Monday's ARSBC session focused on how to profit from reproduction. Visit the Newsroom at www.appliedreprostrategies.com to listen to Schiefelbein's presentation and to view his PowerPoint slides.
Comprehensive coverage of the symposium is available online at www.appliedreprostrategies.com. Compiled by the Angus Journal editorial team, the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproductive Task Force and LiveAuctions.tv.
Editor's Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of the Angus Journal. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270.