Mayer Ranch Makes Lemonade out of Panhandle DroughtMon, 25 Nov 2013 13:03:29 CST
“You cannot starve a profit out of a cow, that’s just a fact,” says Joe Mayer of Mayer Ranch.
Common sense, perhaps, but the old saying is harder to rise above in the midst of the Panhandle drought. To do that, Mayer is always looking for better ways. The Guymon, Oklahoma, cattleman knows he must continually improve management and herd genetics to thrive on the 35,000-acre Mayer Ranch.
“We’ve been in a terrible drought. It doesn’t matter. You have to provide them an adequate diet every day to meet their needs. It’s just all about you’re caretakers of the land and you are responsible for that cow’s welfare. And, so, whatever it takes to do that, that’s what you do. Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, it doesn’t matter.”
Mayer won the 2013 Certified Angus Beef commercial Commitment to Excellence Award this year and accepted it at the brand’s annual conference in Palm Desert, California, in September.
That focus on cattle comfort isn’t just the right thing to do, Mayer says, it’s the profitable thing to do.
“You’re not going to have a prime steer that had a lot of bad days in his life. So it’s our job to be sure that that steer never had a bad day because we’re looking for prime because that’s where the premium is.”
To achieve results like Mayer has with calves making 70 percent CAB and 15 percent prime, you have to start with the right genetics. He figures that includes calving ease paired with potential for quick growth and marbling ability. Mayer sorts through all those traits using the Angus Dollar-Value Index.
“Today I’m looking for bulls and I don’t even look at them anymore if they don’t have over $100 beef and $40 on dollar-W weaning. That also goes into those things that we’re looking for.”
When the drought forced Mayer to liquidate cows with solid genetics over the last two years, he has sharpened his replacement strategy to rebuild his herd.
“We select for heifers based on Gene Max scores and then we try to mate those to the really high-quality bulls. And through that process we try to increase the percent of our carcasses that hit that prime goal.”
Relying on Gene Max to find the best heifers allows faster progress toward the goal of 25 percent prime. The bonus Gene Max ability to match sires now expedites selection on clean-up bulls after A-I, too. Every little bit helps, Mayer says.
“The more tools we can have in our toolbox to get to where we’re trying to go, the better off we are and Gene Max is one of those tools.”
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