Recently I attended the Beef Improvement Federation meetings in Bozeman. This group’s 3-leaf clover logo signifies Research, Industry, and Extension, and this describes the attendees well – a mix of and partnership among scientists, breed associations, bull studs, seedstock and commercial producers, and others in the beef cattle industry. Folks from all over the United States and Canada were there, as well as Australia, South Africa, Ireland and other overseas locales. Beef cattle genetics are the broad focus of the meeting and we learned about the latest cutting edge techniques in beef cattle genetic evaluation.
My favorite part of the conference was a panel about whether or not these new techniques would yield a profit for the industry. Darrell Wilkes, US Beef Supply Systems Manager with ABS, was the first panelist. In his opening remarks, he told us we already had the tools available to improve fertility, longevity, survivability, growth and health in beef cattle. What are these magic tools? Actually there’s just one: crossbreeding. Darrell flat-out said (and I agree) that crossbreeding is under-utilized in the commercial cattle business in the Unites States.
On Saturday of the conference, I was a tour guide for one of the buses that went to Sitz Angus Ranch, Virginia City, 5L Red Angus, and Cooper Herefords. Those poor people will probably never recover from that experience. Can you imagine? An entire day with me where I have the power of the bus microphone! I knew it was going to be a great day when our driver ripped the bottom step of the bus off on some curbing in the parking lot of the hotel on the way to pick everyone up. Then, before we even got to the first stop, a blackbird met his fatal end on our windshield, which of course prompted me to announce, “For those of you keeping score, that is now one step and one blackbird.” It only got better from there, folks.
This week will be a busy one, spent preparing for the Western Section American Society of Animal Science meetings that Miles City will host June 20-23. I’m looking forward to seeing many friends and colleagues and showing them all some good ol’ fashioned Miles City hospitality!
The Asphalt Cowgirl
“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux