KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is only one way to know how genetics perform in the feedlot and on the rail — follow them through the finishing period and the packing house. That’s the impetus behind the American Hereford Association (AHA) Hereford Feedout Program (HFP).
“I think it’s the best, most reliable way of acquiring actual carcass data and performance of your cattle,” says Tom Heidt of K7 Herefords, Lockridge, Iowa. “It was a chance to compare my calves with others from across the country.”
Heidt enrolled cattle in the 2022 HFP for the first time. “The data verified the points I’m emphasizing in my breeding program,” he says.
Heidt’s cattle were above pen average for average daily gain, carcass weight and marbling. There was an outlier, though, one that didn’t achieve expectations. “That data aids me in making a cow culling decision,” he says.
Likewise, Lee Elzemeyer, a Hereford breeder from Richmond, Ind., explains, “I enrolled cattle because I wanted to get the carcass data back and attribute how those cattle perform going back to their dam and sire. As a producer it is important for us to know which animals produce the highest quality meat while also looking at other traits that can add premiums to the final product.” Elzemeyer participated in the HFP for the second time last year.
“Anyone in the beef business is in the carcass business because they all end up on the rail. If you’re not paying attention to carcass data, I think the time will come that you’ll be left behind,” Heidt says.
Convenient, cost-effective opportunity
The HFP, facilitated by HRC Feed Yards, Scott City, Kan., enables Hereford breeders and their commercial customers to send as few as five head to put on feed and discover how they perform. When finished, these cattle are marketed to National Beef Packing Company, LLC as candidates for Certified Hereford Beef.
HRC Feed Yards also feeds cattle for the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) Fed Steer Shootout, which provides similar performance discovery for juniors, in addition to an educational program about the cattle feeding and beef packing sectors.
Enrollments in the 2022 programs totaled 761 head from participants in 21 states.
“From the beginning our goal has been to provide breeders and junior members the opportunity to better understand the cattle feeding industry through a real-world experience,” explains Trey Befort, AHA director of commercial programs. “The information participants receive on their cattle has become a foundation for the future success of the Hereford breed as producers strive to breed cattle that will perform for commercial producers.”
To participate in the 2023 programs, participants are encouraged to enroll by November 1, 2022. All cattle will be delivered to HRC Feed Yards from December 10 – 14, 2022. To properly prepare cattle for the feedlot, interested participants are encouraged to review and follow the suggested preparation protocol developed by HRC Feed Yards.
More information, the enrollment form and the specific protocol for the Hereford Feedout Program can be found here, https://hereford.org/genetics/breed-improvement/feedout-program/. To learn more about the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout visit https://hereford.org/youth/njha-fed-steer-shootout/.
Contact Trey Befort, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lee Mayo, General Manager at HRC Feed Yards, email@example.com with any questions about the programs.
–American Hereford Association