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Cattle U brings segments of the beef chain together

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Each segment in the beef chain has its own targets and goals for profitability and efficiency.

And yet, by working together there are parts in the chain that provide opportunities for all segments. And that’s the goal of the inaugural Cattle U, July 31 and Aug. 1, in Dodge City, Kansas. The event will have breakout sessions focusing on the cow-calf, stocker and feedlot sectors, as well as general sessions that pertain to all three segments as well as a trade show with vendors from up and down the beef chain.


One of the confirmed speakers for Cattle U is Lorna Marshall, vice president of beef genetics for Select Sires, Plain City, Ohio. Marshall will speak in a breakout session on the topic of how commercial cattlemen can better use expected progeny differences in their breeding programs to improve their profitability.

At Select Sires, Marshall works both domestically and internationally with cattlemen to identify their needs and how AI can meet those needs.

“The benefit of AI to commercial producers is just as much about the benefit to the reproduction management of the cow herd as it is about us changing or improving the genetics of the animals,” she said. “The value of reproductive management can add money to your bottom line.”

One trend that the industry is seeing today is the use of sexed beef semen on dairy cows, she said.

“We’re still figuring out how big this market can be, but we sold 750,000 units of beef semen for use on dairy cows last year, and easily that could go to over 1 million units to 1.2 million unit range this year,” she said. “That’s not just a U.S. trend, but all over the world. We market in over 70 other countries and into big dairy producing areas of the world, and this is a market that they’ve embraced.”

Sexed beef semen means that the dairy cow has a calf that puts her back into production quicker, and that steer calf has added value to the dairyman as a feeder calf that’s worth $25 to $200 per head more as a day-old calf over a straight Jersey or Holstein steer calf. Feeders and packers have identified that these crossbred calves are more efficient and offer carcass traits that fit grids, it’s ideal for everyone, she added.

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That’s just one way that AI works for the larger beef chain. Marshall said she’ll speak at Cattle U to cattlemen about matching their resources to their breeding program targets.

“First, I ask them about their resources, such as land, available feed, labor opportunities and more,” she said. Then, she said it’s key for cattlemen to decide if they’re trying to focus on maternal characteristics for creating replacement females and selling bred heifers, or if they are breeding for a terminal program. With synchronization and sexed semen, there are lots of opportunities for cattlemen to utilize AI to boost their profitability.

Marshall will also speak on the trends in EPDs that cattlemen might use in the near future, such as new indexes coming from the American Angus Association and other associations regarding cow size, fertility, stayablity such as feet and udders that keep those females working in the herd longer across the breeds.

“With databases and genomics and just competition within the seedstock industry, we have seen more information collected,” she said in regards to the reliability of EPDs. “We’ve also seen pork and poultry become more competitive and force us to get better in generally identifying the best animals and propagating them.” And the market is getting better at signaling to producers that that work is profitable, she added.

You can catch Marshall and other industry leaders at the Cattle U, July 31 and Aug. 1, in Dodge City, Kansas. To register, visit, or call 1-800-452-7171.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or

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