Thursday, January 20, 2011

Agriculture Technology

I've been working on registrations for SGBI, American Lowline Registry, and DNA Testing Via MMI Genomics. As I drove off this afternoon to the Post Office and Fed Ex, my mind drifted to technology. For my son it means computers. For me it means the cattle on our ranch. Years ago I would have to sit and wait for friends to get home from the Arabian Nationals to learn who won National Championships. Then came cell phones, then email and finally Twitter or messaging on cell phones. In a blink of the eye I can learn what's going on in my own little space in the world of cattle ranching.

Technology of communication lets me visit sales while sitting in front of the computer and viewing the bulls and heifers selling in the sale. This week Larry and I sat in front of the computer to watch the NWSS National Lowline Angus Sale. We watch five or six sales a year this way and have purchased numerous cattle by just clicking a button with the mouse.

But the technology for every farmer has grown just as fast as communication. It's so vast no one individual can grasp it all. I know little or nothing how technology works in corn, or cotton or chickens or any other sector of agriculture. I keep up with technology on cattle being a seedstock producer. Mapping of the cattle genome has help the seedstock producer to select for traits to be passed on to cow/calf producers so they can bring you a more enjoyable experience eating beef. We can now test for those genetic traits that produce marbling and tenderness for that great ribeye you love to put on the grill.

We have slowly been testing our cattle for their genetic traits for parent verification as required by the American Lowline Registry, whether they are polled or not, color genetics, tenderness, and marbling. For the first time Lowline breeders across our country could see first hand what testing for marbling and tenderness could do for you in the sale ring. Lowlines are a relatively new breed in the US and because of their small size, individuals who don't even know how or what to feed their cattle purchase them because they built their dream home on 30 acres. The National Sale sets the tone for Lowlines being sold via private auctions such as the National Sale or private treaty sales on the farm for the year. Sale order usually starts with the very best animals. The National Sale was no exception with the top selling heifer, EZ Satin 60U selling for $12,500 as a bred female to the sire of the hottest show bull in the nation this year, Jackaroo. The second high selling lot at $11,000 was MCR Findon's Montana Queen, the 2011 People's Choice Champion and sold as Lot 1. As we headed into the bottom of the fullblood heifers a 10 month old heifer selling in the 25th spot out of 29 heifers came into the ring. There was nothing special about Dakota Queen. That said she would not place well in her class the next day. In fact I would have been surprised if she even made it into the ribbons. The auctioneer went through her pedigree and then went into her MMI testing on Tru-Marbling and Tru-Tenderness Scores. Dakota Queen was the only heifer with DNA testing behind her sold in the sale. These scores made her a gold mine. She tested in the top 1% of American Angus scores and Lowline Angus Scores on Tenderness. Her Tru-Marbling scores were in the top 5% of American Angus and Lowline Angus. As I watched the bidding start at $1000 it was like a rocket ship went off. As the bidding slowed at $7000 I smiled as I looked at Larry, 'That $85 turned into a huge return on investment.' The gavel came down at $9500. This 10 month old heifer became the third high selling lot in the sale. Her genetics will assure a much sought after market for her offspring. Just a simple $85 and an extra five minutes of time in the chute provided a tremendous advantage for the breeder of this calf that wasn't much to look at. Before technology she would have been just another average fullblood. Now she is in the top 1%.

To all my fellow agriculture producers, grasp technology and use it. Even if your my age, 50, we need to grasp hold of technology instead of shying away from change because of our age.

I leave you with this thought....we do the things we do to bring you a great meal at your table. Beef, It's What's for Dinner.


Karen Y said...

Hi Kim, I wanted to thank you for your comment and becoming a follower of my blog so I have posted an award for you over there.

doublehphoto said...

I completely agree with your statement about grasping technology and using it! Enjoyed looking around your blog too, very nice!