Arizona Rancher Says Raising Quality Beef is a CallingTue, 13 May 2014 12:24:43 CDT
When Chuck Backus bought his Arizona ranch, the career scientistís first goal was range improvement. He methodically increased the landís productivity and now heís doing the same thing with the cattle that inhabit it.
ďWeíve come a long way but we still have a lot of bottom end clearing to do to get rid of all of those who are either select carcass producers-they all look good-but Iíve learned now over the last several years that you canít judge anything by looking at a cow.Ē
Keeping comprehensive records, increasing Angus genetics and using artificial insemination have helped his cattle reach more than 70-percent Certified Angus Beef and prime. Backus retains ownership of his calves on feed, so thatís important to him. But, he says, everyone in the business should look to improve.
ďIf you have below-quality-priced cattle, youíre going to get less and less for them compared with that commodity price. If you have above-average cattle, youíll get more and more above that commodity price. So it should pay, then, to try and produce. But in order to produce them, you have to keep data on your animals.Ē
Recent history shows the spread in premiums and discounts continues to widen as buyers know more than ever about the cattle they purchase regardless of how theyíre procured.
ďA lot of our ranchers in Arizona donít collect data. They donít really know how good their cattle are. They sell them as weaners and never hear from them again, so they have no idea what they are producing. They may have a group of calves they think are really a good set. They are good looking calves and thatís all they know. And, so, Iím trying to emphasize youíve got to measure things on your cows. Youíve got to choose your bulls by EPDs and not just how good they look in order to improve the herd and get the better price.Ē
Although it is about making more money, Backus says producing quality beef is also a calling.
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