Following the Calves: 86% CAB and Prime: “still OK”
Next week, trucks will rumble down U.S. 60 to start bringing nearly 300 Quarter Circle U Ranch calves home from Show Low, Ariz., to backgrounding pens – and cows and bred heifers to winter pastures in that cactus canyon – east of Phoenix, Ariz. Owner-manager Chuck Backus will get a closer look at this year’s heifers, but he’s already ranking them on data.
In October, the last of last year’s 150 calves finished at Cattleman’s Choice Feedyard, near Gage, Okla., went to harvest at National Beef. The “tail-ender” load of 38 went 100% Choice or better but only 24% Prime. Chuck knew the last load would bring down his average of 34% Prime and 52% others qualifying for the Certified Angus Beef brand, or 86% for that combination.
Let’s note that these are fed for a Natural program, and that generally boosts quality grade. But the fall-outs that required treatments of some kind still made 74% CAB and Prime. And look at their native environment!
Chuck had faint praise for his record 86% high mark for a combination overall. Last year’s data on the 2013 calves showed no Select graders with 44% Prime and 36% other CAB for 80% combined. By comparison, noting fewer Prime and that one Select on the Class of 2014, he said, “I guess that is still OK.”
I know he said it with a smile, even if it was an email remark and he left out the emoticon. That’s because I know he’s about to wean those calves and half of them are progeny of one leading Angus sire. Chuck will pick eligible replacements on size and looks, pretty much guaranteeing they are all from AI stock. Then he will rule out any related to Select producers or showing disposition problems before DNA testing again.
Last fall the GeneMax Focus genomics test left him with 79 keepers, so he could get 20 AI-sired heifers from those girls next year. This fall, Chuck will either move up to GeneMax Advantage or a competitive GeneSeek test that fits his aims for tracking feed efficiency.
We’ll check in again this winter as a couple of loads go to the feedyard, and we’ll learn more about the heifers, including those about to calve. Don’t miss out on what happens next — be sure to Follow the Calves!
Let’s keep building tomorrow together,
Our “Following the Calves” series also takes you from Arizona to Nebraska and Florida, too.