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  • Miranda Reiman, Angus Media

Objective Selection, Coordination and Remaining in the Lead

Leachman, Schiefelbein talk the state of the breed on The Angus Conversation.  

An association that gives breeders the ability to use the same tools and creates strength based on the quality and size of the database valuable to the individuals, says Donnie Schiefelbein. But he doesn’t take the success of the American Angus Association for granted. 

“The second a breed association gets its eye off the ball on making sure commercial cattlemen are being assisted in making the most money, they become irrelevant,” warns Schiefelbein, Schiefelbein Farms, Kimball, Minn. 

He and Lee Leachman, Leachman Cattle of Colorado, joined The Angus Conversation, and covered advancements in the industry, the strengths of the breed and how to stay in the lead.  

They looked back at the changes they’ve seen in their lifetime.  

“Moving towards objective analysis of cattle has to be by far and away the biggest change,” Schiefelbein said. “In the old days, Lee will recall when we picked one because it was going to be the next great one based on visual. Boy, that’s sure been shaken up here a lot lately.” 

Genomically enhanced expected progeny differences (EPDs) have been among the game changers, along with additional data gathering on important traits.  

“I think what’s driven that objective use of data is that we’re seeing such a large percentage of our commercial cattle end up on a grid system at the end of their life,” Leachman said. “When Donnie and I got in the business, fed cattle brought a price, and that was it. There was no grid. We saw the battles over grid pricing that everybody said was going to destroy the industry, and exactly the opposite [has happened]. It has incentivized the rise in quality production of beef, which Angus has led.” 

Leachman noted present-day trends, such as more coordination among different segments, being met with similar skepticism across the industry. 

“People are scared of supply chains,” Leachman said. “But the supply chains are going to offer an opportunity to breeders who want to tie into a known marketing channel to produce a very specific product that hits that target.” 

He predicts that the beef business will not look like pork and chicken, because a large share of ranchers will not want to participate. Yet, the feedback loops  created will allow access to data and incentivize the creation of tools that will then spill back into the rest of the beef business.  

“It’s going to allow us to understand what could be in a way that we haven’t without the coordinated supply chain,” he suggested.  

To hear the entire podcast, “In the Driver’s Seat: Schiefelbein, Leachman on Data, Game Changers and Angus Momentum,” search for The Angus Conversation in your favorite podcast platform, or follow this direct link.  



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