CN October November 2023 Vol. 62 Issue 6

By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor CBB CHAIR JIMMY TAYLOR

J immy Taylor knew his commercial Angus herd needed a spark to generate more revenue from his family’s century-old operation. That was in 2005. Nearly two decades later, hi-tech expected progeny differences (EPDs) selected from DNA data and other performance numbers are helping him produce calves that grade Prime more often than not. His overall premiums can top $300 per head. Taylor and his wife, Tracy, ranch in western Oklahoma near Cheyenne. His great-grandfather started ranching there in 1914. His grandfather and father expanded and improved the operation. Now, the Taylors run 600 females bred to Angus and Angus-cross bulls on rolling hills that span several thousand acres. That’s Jimmy’s day (and night) job. He also volunteers to serve as chairman of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), which oversees the use of funds collected from the $1-per-head National Beef Checkoff. He’s one of 101 men and women producers who volunteer to serve on the board. Of course, the checkoff spearheaded the iconic motto,“Beef - It’s What’s for Dinner.” Made famous by Sam Elliott and others, the saying helped increase consumer demand for higher-quality cattle. And checkoff-funded research, among other things, led to new beef cuts to help increase beef sales. Despite economic downturns, the pandemic and higher retail and food service prices, consumers’ desire for and willingness to pay for higher quality beef has steadily increased. Taylor has served on the CBB since 2018. That was several years after he got involved in the Certified Angus Beef program for improved production and marketing. He was among producers who, early on, started depending more on EPDs to select sires. “In 2005, Tracy and I looked for a production program that would create more bonuses when we sold our calves,”

he tells CALF News .“Over the years, we realized it was important to use more EPD technology available through DNA testing, which has regularly advanced in making more data available to producers. We decided to retain ownership through the feeding cycle to take advantage of the genetics we invested in.” After weaning calves in 2007, Taylor placed them in Cattleman’s Choice Feedyard in nearby Gage, Okla. The feedyard’s owner, Dale Moore, was also dedicated to quality. He worked with feeders to market their cattle through various grids. “We found out it was vital to produce more Prime calves,” Taylor says.“We obtained data from the feedyard and the processing plant. The initial data showed the calves were 12.5 percent Prime, compared to a national average of about 2 percent Prime.” 82 Percent Prime The Taylors trusted advanced DNA testing and genomically enhanced EPDs to yield even higher quality ratings. As DNA testing programs improved, they tried several in hopes of improving their genetics. They currently rely on GeneMax Advantage DNA testing.

“With genomically enhanced EPDs, timed AI and DNA testing on all females, we’ve attained 82 percent Prime on a couple of groups of cattle,” Taylor says. “We’ve been able to capture additional bonuses from producing either all-natural or NHTC (non hormone-treated cattle) cattle. “We don't implant anything. Before, buyers typically wouldn't pay enough of a bonus for non-implanted cattle. But that has changed. With those combined bonuses, the last time I tracked a group of cattle through the feeding and processing phases, they averaged about $360 per head in premiums.” The result is beef cuts from the Taylor cattle and like animals are typically served at white-tablecloth restaurants in the United States or exported to Europe, where non-hormone-treated cattle are preferred. The Taylors’ production program helps enhance their genetics. The ranch runs spring and fall breeding seasons.“There’s a 25-day breeding period for heifers and 52 days for cows,” Taylor says.“These periods help identify fertility qualities.” Calves going to the feedlot are EID tagged as part of an independent, third- party verification system. Cows and calves

Jimmy Taylor sees the need for more funds to keep the Beef Checkoff strong enough "to function at the level we are accustomed to."


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