Always on the hunt for ways to boost profits, Tommy Mead has been looking forward to a new marketing program that will highlight the value of his cross-bred cows. It represents the coming together of two giants in the beef industry--the American Hereford Association (AHA) and the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA).
“We try to maximize the value of our cattle whether we’re selling registered bulls and females, or commercial cattle,” says Mead, a Midville, Georgia, seedstock and commercial producer. As such, he plans to enroll his Hereford-Red Angus cross heifers in the new Premium Red Baldy Program. He’ll start with 15 to 20 replacement-quality females and hopes to grow that number to 50 head or more.
It is producers such as Mead who inspired the two associations to create this premium program. “We had seen a number of these quality Red Baldy females on ranches, and they weren’t being kept as replacement heifers but should have been,” says Harold Bertz, commercial marketing programs coordinator for the Colorado-based RAAA. “We wanted to create a program to add value to these already-valuable females. We know the demand is there.”
A NEW FACE FOR HETEROSIS
It’s hard not to think of the Black Baldy when looking at the new program. A cross between a Hereford and a Black Angus, the Black Baldy has long been a favorite with commercial cattle producers and feeders. With heterosis adding even more to two solid breeds, the females are typically fertile and good mothers, while the feeders perform in the feedlot and grade well.
Fans of Red Baldies say these cattle will have all those same attributes as the Black Baldy, with the added benefit of being red--a trait they note helps with heat tolerance.
Sires used in the new program must be in the top 50% of their respective breed for maternal index values. For Red Angus, that means sires in the top 50% for their HerdBuilder Index, an all-purpose index that leans heavier toward maternal traits. For Herefords, sires are in the top 50% of the breed for the Baldy Maternal Index.
Mead notes this sets the females apart as being higher quality.
“I’m using those kinds of bulls anyway. I want to sell good cattle,” he says. “I’m in love with both of those breeds, and this is the only commercial program backed by whole-herd reporting. That’s pretty important to me.”
Heifers can be enrolled in the new program through either association office. Trey Befort, AHA director of commercial programs, says he or his counterpart at the RAAA, Chessie Mitchell, will do a brief interview to find out if the heifer meets the three program criteria. Besides their sire being in the top 50% of their breed for maternal index values, the registration of the sire has to be transferred to the owner, and the female must be a Red Angus-Hereford cross.
If females meet the criteria, either Befort or Mitchell will request Allflex panel tags for them, and the heifers will be listed for sale on the commercial female section of the websites of both associations.
“We’ll also send the information to our field staff,” Befort says. “They get phone calls from people looking for replacement heifers. This will give them added market exposure.”
Along with providing sellers with marketing help and hopefully more dollars, Befort also says buyers will benefit.
“They can have more confidence they are buying females backed by quality genetics. We believe they will benefit from females with added longevity, fertility and adaptability with both the Hereford and Red Angus genetics.”
Though the program is still new, Befort says there has been a tremendous amount of interest. As participation grows, he expects to see special sales developed to feature females enrolled in the program.
In Mead’s case, he plans to market the females private treaty or possibly include them in his annual Memorial Day production sale.
No matter how a producer chooses to market Premium Red Baldy females, AHA’s Befort says, “this program will yield females that are poised to increase the profitability of the commercial producer.”
The Premium Red Baldy program was created to add value to Hereford-Red Angus cross females. But, there’s also a benefit for the steer side of the business.
Both the American Hereford Association (AHA) and the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) have genetic merit and marketing programs for feeder cattle.
In the Hereford Advantage Program, for example, feeder cattle must be sired by a Hereford bull battery ranking in the top 50% of the breed for the $CHB (Certified Hereford Beef) index. This is a terminal sire index built on a production system where Hereford bulls are used on British-cross cows with a focus on gain and end-product merit. Hereford-influenced feeder cattle can be listed free of charge on the AHA web site’s feeder cattle marketing page, which allows potential buyers to view feeder cattle for sale.
Red Angus has a Feeder Calf Certification Program with more than 2 million head enrolled. It is a USDA genetic, source and age-verified program. Producers with Red Angus or Red Angus cross feeder cattle can also list their calves on the stockyard section of that breed’s website.
Although Midville, Georgia, cattleman Tommy Mead is a strong supporter of both breeds and plans to market his commercial heifers through the Premium Red Baldy program, he depends on the Southeast Livestock Exchange to sell his feeder steers.
“We’re marketing them as all natural,” Mead says. “We’ve been Global Animal Partnership-certified for three years, and it is really paying off, more so than ever in today’s market.”
He estimates he gets $3 to $5 more per cwt by marketing through the Canton, North Carolina,-based video auction compared to an auction barn.
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