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Consistency key to maintaining beef industry value

In the beef industry, consistency is key to just about everything. From sire and A.I. choices to ration options to market opportunities, producers can add value at each production stage based on their decisions.

Garrett Englin, cattle buyer for JBS USA, said consistency is key for packers, too. Speaking at the 2024 Feedlot Forum in northwest Iowa, he told attendees how a current trend is helping.

“Having cattle at the same size and same weight is key, and the beef-on-dairy crosses help a great deal in reaching and maintaining consistency,” he said in an Iowa State University Extension news release. “Being able to provide the same product to consumers starts with getting similar cattle from producers.”

At the 2024 Feedlot Forum sponsored in part by the Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Englin was asked to talk to the group about the beef-dairy cross that’s becoming very popular.

A big part of how this approach works is the narrowing of genetic diversity, he said. Holstein cows are quite consistent, and with the use of fewer sires, the sire base is consistent. So, producers have more control over that animal during its entire life than they would by buying cattle from a variety of sources.

“It’s always easier for a packer to buy your cattle if he knows what to expect from you,” Englin said. “Continuing to provide a consistent quality animal helps with market acceptability, which benefits the producer and the packer.”

Using these similar genetics also allows cattle raised in Texas or South Dakota or Iowa to continue to draw packer interest regardless of where the animals are from.

And speaking of geographic location, northwest Iowa is ideal for the beef cattle business.

“I’ve been fortunate to have spent my entire professional career in this very progressive beef community in northwest Iowa,” Englin said. “People here grow their crops, feed them through their cattle, and their total farm income is safer because of this diversification and consistency.”

A native of Cottonwood County, Minnesota, who eventually moved to Sioux County, Englin has been involved with cattle since his early days. He showed cattle through 4-H and started a cow-calf herd as a teenager.

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