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  • Megan Silveira, associate editor

Recordkeeping — a profit essential

Recordkeeping is a vital part of a successful operation.

Records. Data. Genetics. Three words that have a lot in common and should be part of any successful cattle operation. By keeping accurate records of their herd, Angus breeders have the ability to positively affect their own lives, the American Angus Association and the entire industry.

“Every seedstock breeder should be collecting data,” says Brad Wright, owner of Ranch Hand Analytics.

A lot of data included in basic recordkeeping — birth dates of calves, sire and dam information, weight measurements, and more — are vital to the general upkeep of an operation, Wright explains. The data set an individual producer chooses to record for themselves can be wide and varies from operation to operation, but Wright says it helps the individual make both culling and financial decisions.

Recorded data can also help secure sales, says Terrell Miller, owner of CattleMax herd management software. He explains buyers have certain expectations when considering any type of animal for purchase, and a producer should be prepared to answer their questions with previously recorded information.

“Records are essential to making a profit,” he says.

Alongside potential customers, Miller says the American Angus Association has similar demands for breeders when it comes time to register calves. Thankfully for producers, the list of required information mimics the one previously mentioned that ranchers should already be keeping for themselves.

“This is information that ultimately better helps ranchers register their cattle in a more timely manner,” Miller adds.

By providing accurate information to the Association, Miller says the entire Business Breed grows.

Esther McCabe, director of performance programs at the American Angus Association, says, “The Association works for its members to provide the best and most accurate selection tools. We ultimately rely upon the members to submit high-quality, accurate information to create those selection tools.”

McCabe lists the Association’s expected progeny differences (EPDs) as one of those selection tools. She says the more accurate the information being utilized by the Association, the more accurate the EPDs.

McCabe describes EPDs shown on registration papers as the result of leveraging many different pieces of information together.

"In order to get the best depiction of what an animal's genetic merit will be, all pieces must be present, and phenotypic data is a very important piece,” she says. “It is a bit like a puzzle — if you are missing pieces, the end result will not be as complete."

Wright explains EPDs help drive the industry forward, as these genetic prediction tools serve as guides for cattlemen during breeding season as they work to mate cattle to produce phenotypically and genotypically elite livestock.

By supporting the submission of accurate and timely data collected through good recordkeeping, Wright says producers are actually supporting a more effective and productive industry. This responsibility rings especially true for purebred and registered breeders, he adds.

“Every seedstock breeder should be collecting data,” Wright says. “We’re selling our products to commercial cattlemen, so we have to identify those desirable genetics with a high degree of confidence for our consumers.”

Miller describes recordkeeping as a process rather than an event, but says it is necessary for the continued success of the cattle industry. By keeping track of important data on the individual level, producers can improve their own operation, assist the American Angus Association with improving the Business Breed and its genetic tools, and push the cattle industry further toward greatness.

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