Tim Haines, Lexington, Okla., runs almost 1,000 commercial Angus cows and retains ownership of his calves through the feedyard. Until recently, he had to rely on historical data to help evaluate the genetic potential of the females in his herd and predict how his feeder cattle would perform. Now, he is using the comprehensive Igenity® profile to gain inside information about his cattle and take a proactive approach to his breeding program while working to produce a more consistent end product.
"We want to use every tool we have available to help fine-tune our genetics and add value and consistency to our cattle," Haines says. "We have an opportunity to design our product in a way that we haven't ever had before. Consistency is something we are looking for in our cattle and Igenity can help us do that."
Haines is using DNA technology in all aspects of his operation, starting with his bull purchases.
"We are committed to only purchasing bulls with DNA information," Haines says. "We also believe Igenity can help us know more about our replacement females. We have always known that we have some nice cows and great genetics. But without information about each individual's genetic makeup, we are pretty much guessing about what those females will do for us."
Haines says when selecting females he wants to stay away from the extremes and focus on visual confirmation, reproductive performance and carcass traits. Now the inside information from Igenity can help him make replacement heifer selection decisions with more confidence.
"We start with confirmation and eye appeal as well as reproductive efficiency, however, we need to know what those females have in them genetically to help us improve our bottom line," he says. "Now, with the help of the Igenity profile, we can help identify the females that will raise a thrifty calf efficiently, and give that calf a worthwhile carcass."
Carcass traits are key to this operation since ownership of calves is retained through the feeding phase.
"We sell the cattle we retain on a grid, so the more information we have, the more likely we will be to turn a profit on those calves," he says. "With the Igenity profile, we have the opportunity to market the cattle to the packer and in groups based on their strengths for each trait in the profile. We don't want to just be a commodity operation; we want to have a product that we can market to a packer who will pay incentives for a product they can brand."
He adds that the inside information from the feeder cattle is important when looking at the breeding program as well.
"It is not just about feeding each individual group of calves," Haines says. "This information will help us to get our entire herd headed in the right direction."
For this reason, Haines also utilizes the multisire parentage option available from Igenity.
"We start with artificial insemination on all the females on the ranch, but after that, it is essential for us to run multiple sires in each pasture," he says. "However, that makes it difficult to match calves up with their sire. By identifying parentage on the calves, we can make better decisions about our bulls and also better mating decisions after we know information about both bulls and females."
The operation also consists of a small seedstock herd, and Haines says Igenity can help him make better decisions about which individuals should be part of that elite group.
"It is important for us to be able to identify calves early on that meet or don't meet our particular criteria for scores from Igenity," Haines says. "This will allow us to point calves in several different directions: for the seedstock herd, as a replacement heifer or for retained ownership."
Haines says that as input costs rise, it is important to use all of the available tools to help make progress in his herd and help ensure the ranch's long-term profitability.
"As we have to start squeezing every nickel out of our operation, it is important for us to fine-tune our process," he says. "To make everything work in this business we are going to have to take advantage of every tool we can. Igenity is one of the tools we can use to help us design a product that has some enhanced value and helps us to stay profitable in the long-term."