Game Change

American Angus Builds Feeder Calf Program

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
A new way to value feeder calves, aims at bringing more premiums to Angus-based herds.(DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Boyd Kidwell)

All the details aren't in yet, but the American Angus Association (AAA) has taken an unusual step for a breed organization—buying Verified Beef this month. The third-party verification services program helps producers market feeder calves in niche markets, emphasizing things like animal identification and traceability.

The reason for the acquisition, according to AAA chief executive officer, Allen Moczygemba, is to create a feeder calf program that will be built on the use of registered Angus bulls.

"By marrying the advanced technology platform and proprietary software from Verified Beef with the strength and scale of the Angus brand, the Association will deliver a feeder calf program that is not only invaluable to commercial cattlemen but is unmatched in the industry," he said.

Explaining that cattle feeders need metrics, he noted the Angus feeder calf program will provide a simple tool that can be used to validate the genetic potential of feeders. That tool will build on Verified Beef's current program. Details are not yet available, but Clint Mefford, communications director for the AAA told DTN the new program will offer easy enrollment, and provide three genetic indexes: average daily gain, quality gain and a score for replacement heifers.

"Simply put, the higher the genetic index score, the better," said Mefford. "The scores will help commercial cattle feeders and cattlemen make informed decisions, even in the fast-paced sale barn."

Each index score will be compared against an industry average of 100—the equivalent of an animal with an average breed makeup. Any score over 100 will be considered "above average."

"Calves that receive a quality grade score of at least 125, and that are GLA [Government Live Angus] eligible, will receive a Certified Angus Beef logo badge on their certificate," he explained. "Typically the more Angus influence the better the score. Health or source verification programs may be added by the producer."

Asked if the program would compete against others that focus marketing efforts around Angus, Mefford said the goal is to increase the value and use of all registered Angus bulls in the commercial sector, "ultimately benefiting our entire membership."

Tim Watts, chief executive officer of Verified Beef, added, "selling calves the old fashioned way, without genetic data doesn't work." He stressed he believes "top Angus calves are consistently undervalued by several dollars per hundredweight or more. Calves from several other popular breeds are often significantly over-valued, and the only way to fix this broken marketplace is for the AAA to implement an industry-changing feeder calf program."


Victoria Myers