Letter From The President
Cycles come and cycles go. Round and Round. Although the current cattle cycle is a little off on its usual 10 year round trip, nonetheless we are facing a predicted coming downturn. Prices hit all-time highs in 2014 and 2015, and now are softening. The market pundits are predicting several years ahead of lowering cattle prices and it is time to prepare for this. Barzona breeders are fortunate in that when prices are high our profit margin is high, and when prices are low, our profit margin is still higher than most ranchers as we have BARZONAS. They require less supplemental fee, will maintain on lower quality natural forage, and utilize range more efficiently. That being said, it still has to rain! We just can't control the weather and in spite of what the global warmists say, there is just so much we can do, and reducing cattle numbers is not the answer!
There has been so much said about cattle casuing greenhouse gases, most recently an Opinion written for CNN called "Why Beef is the New SUV". Seems like no matter how hard the beef industry fights this mindset the more these "experts" sound off. Same with the whole Global Warming fiasco. (I say fiasco not to imply my personal opinion but to illustrate that either side of the debate contends the other side is a fiasco). Ther will never be a meeting of the minds, so let's move on, do our thing, and keep feeding the world. On another note, the Barzona Breeders Association several years ago voted to include the Bonsmara cattle in our Registry. It has been generally assumed that the Bonsmara are closely related genetically to the Barzona and could be used to broaden our genetic base without compromising our foundation genetic makeup of Africander, Hereford and Shorthorn. At that time there were no Bonsmara cattle available to us so the inclusion was put on the back burner. Over two years ago Bonsmara cattle becam available to the general public. There was a large herd of Bonsmara located near Asher, OK. Our annual meeting was being held in that area so we had the opportunity to go see these cattle for ourselves and the general consensus was, yes, these cattle were so similar in type to our Barzna that they would indeed be a positive addition to our registry. Shortly afterward several of us went back and purchased some foundation breeding stock for our own herds. It had been determined by the Association that the full blood Bonsmara could be entered in the Registry, as well as the Bonsmara/Barzona crosses.
The cycle (FAD, if you will) is beginning to shift away from black cattle, regardless of breed makeup, and focusing once again on the suitability of cattle to their environment, and thus looking for more animals with a red hide! The profitablilty of black cattle in many envirnments was not adequate. That's where the Barzona shines! Cycles come and go. Round and Round.
Nancy Bard, President
The Seedstock Industry by Chip Hines
The word "Seedstock" hadn't been invented when I was growing up and it was simply termed "registered" cattle. This was in the hay day of pedigrees, show rings and eye appeal. Or, whether a herd was linebrd, inbred or outcrossed. The only numbers thrown around had dollar signs attached. Then life changed.
The continentals invaded and the performance race was on. Winner takes all with the biggest weaning weights. The seedstock industry loved this. Finally something more than eye appeal to gain attention. Numbers. Numbers could prove bull 132X was better than bull 214Z. The numbers game began with a simple ration comparing herd mates. Then the universities got serious and devised a complicated formula that was named Expected Progeny Difference (EDP). This upped the gamesmanship and the desire to beat fellow breeders at the game of numbers. Bigger was better. Whatever it took, extra fee, jubered numbers, semen from another breed accidently slipped into the wrong cow, increasing the numbers became critical.
Then across breed EPD's were announced. There was no turning back. The traits needed for practical cattle were lost in the hubub of numbers. The big loser was the commercial man who believed the game was legit and bought in. As he got caught up in increasing weaning wights as the university proclaimed in workshops, bulletins and through extension agents, cows got bigger and input costs soared.
As the cows got bigger they became slabsided and pencil gutted. This meant they had to have hay and supplement to get through winter. They could not survive on what the ranch produced. How could these genetics help the commercial cattlman? A seedstock operation must run cattle as tough as or tougher than the commercial guy to improve his genetics. Big, feed dependent cows took the commercial man in the wrong direction.
The only breeds that remained with a practical view of the industry were the minor, overlooked breeds that continued breeding for traits that were profitable to the average cattleman. These minor breeds, especially those with African cattle as a component, are beginning to be in demand as full bloods or as a source for crossbreeding.
Producers are realizing the watered down traits of the numbers oriented breeders are what the industry is lacking. Barzona cattle from the beginning were genetically designed with these traits as the foundation. This places the Barzona breed well ahead of the popular breeds attempting to regain what they had lost through following university assumptions of profitabilty through increased animal performance. Bucking the trend of following popular thought has Barzona breeders in a favorable position simply because of never straying from the breed philosophy.
Letter from the Editor
Hello from Alabama. I would like to say what a great meeting we had in Colorado this past July. Our visits to Ron & Peggy Erjavec's ranch the first day and to Kit Pharo's ranch the next day were quite impressive and educational for all of us. Thank you Ron, Peggy and Kit. Also, we want to thank Jay Weichman for coming over from Scott City, Kansas. Jay shared with us his knowlege in the cattle feeding industry and his experiences with feeding Barzonas for several years and his successes with them. We also got to visit and spend time with Chip Hines when we were on our tour at Kit's ranch. Chip has contributed to the whole cattle world with his books and research. His literature is carefully but honestly written so that we all can get our arms around what needs to be said. Thank you Chip for your commentary.
Right now while I do not know about you, for me here the weather included rainfall this past year and has been very favorable. My cows and their calves look great. Also prices on cattle are still up there but I think we all will agree we have seen the top of the market for the most part as there is an overall herd expansion in the US and at the same time our export numbers are lagging way behind beef numbers.
With beef suppliers becoming more available and prices received by cattlmen declining, the low cost producers who have a quality product will have the best opportunity to remain solvent. Barzonas give us the quality at low expense. Infusion of Barzona genetics into one's herd can provide a significant way to be able to realize the opportunity to remain profitable. Until next time, may God bless you all.
Raymond Boykin, Jr.