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  • Miranda Reiman, Angus Media

Progress Behind, Progress Ahead

Pollard looks forward to year as president of the Board.



When you’re No. 1, it takes internal drive to keep pushing forward.

Barry Pollard, recently elected president and chairman of the American Angus Association Board of Directors, says the breed has that going for it. From staff to Board members to involved breeders at every level, they’ve been making improvements this past year and he says he looks to continue that in the coming year.

They’ve added new expected progeny differences (EPDs), and while that may seem overwhelming to some, Pollard says, it allows for the most complete genetic characterization of Angus cattle.

“It gives every member a chance to pick out those EPDs that are most important to them in the herd that they’re trying to design for themselves,” he says. “So those types of things are going to be necessary to keep us on top.”

To hear Pollard’s thoughts on the importance of the commercial cattlemen and what he’s most looking forward to in the year ahead, listen to the interview or read the full transcript below.





MIRANDA REIMAN

There's a lot of positive momentum in the Angus breed. That doesn't mean it's a time to take a rest. This is Miranda Reiman with the Angus Journal team, and we just concluded the 2023 Angus Convention in Orlando, Florida, and I sat down with Dr. Barry Pollard as he was recently elected president and chairman of the board for the American Angus Association. The first question I asked, how are things going in the Angus breed?


BARRY POLLARD

Things are good. Things are real good. We've, again the dominant breed, 70% of the cattle going through the feed a lot now are Angus genetics. And we've come a long ways in more choice and more prime products for carcass values and people are starting to look harder as ever at our Angus Link program, which is coordinated with IMI to go out and evaluate commercial herds value those genetics develop a way of identifying carcass potential of those cattle that come out of that herd and matching them up with great Angus bulls so they have a fine product going forward. So that's been a big part of the improvement, I think.


We have a great set of board — in fact, the whole eight years that I've been on the board, we've had a fantastic group of men and women who've been on the board and staff that's helped.


And from the staff level, especially the people that we don't hear about or see every day at our association office, that really make us the envy of every breed organization that there is because they're incredible talent and devotion to our breed. And that along with good executive people and field managers who are at their working every day for our membership to increase their profitability and help them in their day-to-day management of their herds and recognition of the herds, advertising of the herds and trying to make the most out of what they can do for our membership.


MIRANDA REIMAN

I heard a lot of times from stage or maybe other comments that even though we are in the number one position and the enviable position, we don't want to get complacent. So, what are some of the initiatives and things that we're doing to make sure that we're not getting complacent?


BARRY POLLARD

I think being able to recognize more and more of the genetic value of the animals that we raise and proving that. And so going forward, we'll continue to work with any kind of EPD that we can come up with that's based on genetic information and real life data and performance data to try to increase the accuracy of our genetics scorecard and of our EPDs and to progressively develop new EPDs that may be beneficial. There's a number of EPDs we put out there already and a lot of people say, 'Wow, that's a lot. And it does become a lot when you start looking at things, but it gives every member a chance to pick out those EPDs that are most important to them in the herd that they're trying to design for themselves. So, those types of things are going to be necessary to keep us on top.


Right now we just released the research EPD on functional longevity and we are going to keep that in a research mode for approximately in maybe another year, and we're in congruency with that. We're gathering data on teat and udder scoring. Those two EPDs will come together eventually to enhance the $M that we provide to the membership and our EPD profile. And we're working hard to try to increase the importance of $M and the accuracy of $M and figuring out what segments of functional longevity and teat scoring and birth weight and trying to divide eventually how to proportionately evaluate each one of those segments that goes into $M. And I think that's key and I think we need to have accurate data before we release it and we're looking forward to developing that data over the next year.


MIRANDA REIMAN

I heard Kelli Retallick-Riley say from stage that they really want feedback at this point. Those members who've been submitting the data.


BARRY POLLARD

Right? People who are involved in whole inventory reporting or in maternal plus are having access to that functional longevity score now. And I would encourage every breeder to look at becoming a part of maternal plus or whole herd reporting so that you can input your data for us to analyze and add to the data that we have. And that will also give you access to that research EPD before it's even released into the general as a performance EPD.


MIRANDA REIMAN

So just more tools in the toolbox and we're talking whether that's for breeders or for commercial cattlemen.


BARRY POLLARD

Absolutely. The commercial cattlemen, of course, is the one we hope to benefit the most from this. We want to increase the accuracy of all the bull data that they would choose to use bulls in their herd of commercial cattle to produce progeny that will perform well in the feedlot and in the carcass valuation to increase their value because we've seen the value of those performance carcasses be several hundred dollars more than a routine carcass. So those that are participating in that and taking advantage of that have an opportunity to excel at their level and to become more profitable.


MIRANDA REIMAN

So as you think to the year ahead, as you're taking over leading this board and this breed, what are you most looking forward to?


BARRY POLLARD

Well, I look forward to working with the Board and the membership in general and the staff as well. We've got such talented people all across at every level, and we can take those. We want to hear their ideas. We want to hear how the things we've done for them genetically or with EPDs are benefiting their herd. What questions they have about are we doing the right thing? Are we getting the right answers? Listening to people and trying to then take their questions back to the staff and to the board and analyze that and do the best we can to satisfy the needs of our membership.


MIRANDA REIMAN

Are there any challenges that you think are going to be tricky or are you worried about anything?


BARRY POLLARD

Not really. I'm not worried. I know that there are challenges out there and there'll be more challenges come about every single year, and the board is equipped to handle those challenges and with the staff that we have, we feel comfortable we can handle any challenge comes forward. A particular interest of the current time is continuing to preserve the name of, not the name of CAB, but all the privileges that we enjoy having formed CAB ourselves and all the information we've put into that. And that's going to be, I think, something that we can continue to preserve and build on and make it even better. It's such a big part of our program, big part of the success of Angus that we need to really continue as John will to continue to enhance that product.


MIRANDA REIMAN

You keep mentioning the supportive staff, but you also have a great family support system at home. We got to see several of your kids and your grandkids line up today.


BARRY POLLARD

Well, whenever my wife saw that this was going to be in Orlando, she took the immediate opportunity to decide that that'd be a great destination vacation for


MIRANDA REIMAN

Smart woman,


BARRY POLLARD

As many people in our family as we could. So I went down the first day here and bought 21 3-day passes to theme park so that they could all enjoy the theme park while we're here at the meeting.


MIRANDA REIMAN

Christmas shopping is done.


BARRY POLLARD

I'm not sure that's ever done.


MIRANDA REIMAN

I love that. Well, I think that's all the questions I have for you. Is there anything else that you want to add or anything that we didn't cover?


BARRY POLLARD

No, I think the future is bright for our breed. We don't want to stand on our laurels. We will continue to look at ways to improve every aspect of the industry that we can and every way that we can to provide more profitability to our commercial customers.


MIRANDA REIMAN

Well, thank you for your leadership and I wish you good luck in the year ahead.


BARRY POLLARD

Thank you.


MIRANDA REIMAN

Be sure to visit angusjournal.net to keep up on all things Angus. The January Angus Journal will be packed with convention coverage, so subscribe today.



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