It was great watching the Limousin shows at Kansas City this fall. The cattle exhibited at the American Royal were a reflection of how the folks in the Limousin business have been changing the kind and type of Limousin cattle being bred and raised today. Cattle with production traits that are valuable in today’s cattle industry were evident in the ring. Easy-made, deep-ribbed individuals that are structurally sound, translate into maternal characteristics and production requirements that are in demand for both the commercial cow-calf business and feedlot industry.
Also, what is exciting for seedstock producers involved in the Limousin business is the future possibility of developing genomic enhanced EPDs (GeEPDs) for both Limousin and Lim-Flex® cattle. The increased accuracy of GeEPDs on traits that are costly or difficult to measure including, carcass traits, feed efficiency, longevity and heifer pregnancy, will help our breed capitalize on opportunities in the commercial cattle business. Continental cattle breeds in the United States are about to get a second look by many in the commercial cattle business as retail markets evolve and natural product lines continue to grow.
At the time of writing this, the Choice-Select spread has widened back out to $18. Corn remains high as the December contract rallied back to nearly $6.50/bushel. Who knows where it will be by the time you read this. The current market conditions are forcing the feedyard industry to keep days on feed short, giving cattle less time to achieve Choice quality grade before they reach their optimal terminal endpoint. This, in combination with increased usage of beta-agonist in conjunction with aggressive implant programs that increase average daily gains in an attempt to lower cost of gains, will continue to push more cattle into the Select quality grade and keep premiums high on cattle that grade Choice.
I continue to believe this is an opportunity for the Limousin breed. Packers continue to expand their natural product lines in an attempt to offer the American public a product that not only consistently grades Choice or higher, but maintains tenderness and eating quality. Limousin is the breed that offers this to the commercial cattle business with sires that can provide hybrid vigor to a set of English cows that may be too conventional. The right kind of Limousin or Lim-Flex® bulls can have a positive impact on their progeny’s production characteristics.
Limousin cattle can be utilized and marketed as the “natural implant” for a set of straight English cows that need a shot of muscling and added performance both in terms of weaning weights and higher average daily gains in the feedyard. Feed efficiency will remain critical to the cattle industry given the high cost of feed that is most likely here to stay.
I believe this is the time for those involved in the Limousin business to celebrate their diversity rather than letting it cause different factions within the breed. The retail beef business has a variety of different customers and consumer tastes. Just as some consumers have a desire for a lean product as offered by brands such as Laura’s Lean, others will demand a product that is high in marbling and are willing to pay for it. Some may be happy to eat at the Western Sizzler while others will pay for that trip to Morton’s Steak House. Limousin has a breed that can fit that range in diversity based on consumer’s eating habits and budgets, from fullblood cattle all the way to purebred and Lim-Flex® cattle. What’s good for one end of the spectrum eventually helps grow the other!
Each individual breeder needs to continue to look at what is successful for them and continue forward with what pays the bills. At the same time, each breeder should keep an open mind and pay attention to changes happening in the business we can capitalize on! We need more cattle in the Limousin offering, and need a way to supply the commercial cow-calf man with more of our bulls. It is a particularly tough time to look at expansion when production cost are so high, yet others will be looking to take advantage of supplying the ever changing needs of the market if we don’t.
The board continues to look for new ways the staff can be more efficient and at the same time provide more services to the membership. In an effort to help accomplish this, the board has approved a pending sale of the office building in Centennial, Colorado. With the advancement of technology over the last several years, the staff at NALF has been reduced to seven people that don’t require 10,000 square feet of office space and the expenses associated with it. In an effort to manage expenses, NALF will look to relocate in the same area with a lease and office space that reflects its current size and needs. By doing this, it will free up dollars to provide more services to the membership on projects that will benefit the Limousin breed.
We are excited about the future of the beef industry and the Limousin breed’s contribution to the business. We look forward to upcoming events at the National Western Stock Show and anticipate good Limousin shows not only on the hill but in the yards as well.
The board and staff at NALF look forward to 2012, and we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!