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    This column is a little different from what you are used to reading as you open up the Roundup every week. I am of the opinion that some stories just need to be told. I am going to take the opportunity to share this one with you.
    If you look up the meaning of the word “fate” in a dictionary you will find the following definition: “that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny.” I know most people either believe in fate or they don’t. Even if you fall in the latter, the following story should make you wonder.
    During the 2009 Wyoming State Fair a group of Mary von Forrell’s friends held a fundraiser to support the charity “Wheel Get You There.” Mary formed this charity, prior to her recent passing due to cancer, with the goal of providing cancer patients free transportation to and from their treatments. To further support the charity Mary’s friends decided to raffle off a bronze depicting a cattle judge slapping the back of a steer being shown by a youngster. It was a very well done piece of art and anyone would have been glad to win it, but not just anyone did!
    On Saturday during the final drive of the junior market beef show the organizers reached into a large feed bucket filled to the brim with ticket stubs and pulled out a single name. It could have been anyone of what I assume to have been hundreds of people who had bought tickets to support the cause. In total they raised over $11,000. The name on the piece of paper just happened to belong to a gentleman from Meeteetse named Russ Renner. The Renner family seemed to have a wave of emotion come across them after receiving the award. It is understandable that someone would feel emotional, considering the circumstances surrounding the moment and the cause.
    Nothing out of the ordinary at all, but now, as the great Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.” According to Mr. Renner the very first cattle show that his daughter had exhibited cattle at just happened to be judged by Mary von Forell. As Renner went on to tell me the story he explained the lasting effect that Mary had on his daughter as she explained things to her throughout the show. He said they even had pictures of Mary talking to his daughter, giving her advice. You could tell by the seriousness in his voice the impact she had on his daughter was quite substantial considering the briefness of their meeting.
    If you knew Mary you would know that this was very typical. She loved showing cattle and loved sharing that passion with the younger generations of showman even more. I don’t know what the odds of the Renner family winning the raffle were, but I am sure it was quite slim. I have a hunch, though, that fate may have staked the deck in their favor, making sure that the award went to someone who would forever treasure it.
    Fate? Maybe, but nonetheless a story worth sharing.

Who put up the “For Sale” sign at the United States border? It has been about a year since I last traveled outside the U. S. and I may have missed it when I flew back, but evidently it was there. I know by now you are well aware of the JBS Swift merger and what it might mean for American beef producers in terms of the consolidation of the meat processing business in this country. Separate from that, I think we need to realize it is just one more instance of a much larger occurrence of foreign companies buying up a piece of the “American Dream.”

With the little speed bump the U.S. economy has hit, the rest of the world is buying up U.S. companies like never before and who can blame them? It would be like you or me walking into our favorite ranch and home store and seeing a sign on the door telling us everything in the store was on sale at a sizable discount. Who wouldn’t buy a few things? Much of the world outside the U.S. has been trying for years to build economies based on our model of free enterprise and now they can do one better by buying into the original. We may not like it but it is the truth.

Another example of this trend recently made headlines and for some reason it really upset me and I thought I would share my frustration with you.

InBev, a Belgian brewing company, has recently expressed interest in purchasing Anheuser-Busch. Their offer is reported to be in the neighborhood of $46 billion. Even if you’re not a beer drinker, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Anheuser-Bush name. This St. Louis, Mo.-based company has been in operation since 1852. There aren’t many things more American than the Budweiser Clydesdales and I have this picture in my head from one the company’s commercials that shows a couple of combines cutting through a field of barley.

If Anheuser-Busch accepts this buyout offer these symbols will forever be tarnished to me. This is not a time in America when we can afford to lose any amount of our heritage and I’m afraid this move, as small as it may seem, would strike a major blow deep into the heart of Americana. I hope for this reason that the Busch family, the company’s board of directors and all the shareholders will stand up and say, “Thanks, but no thanks. We are an American company and we want to stay that way.”

The company is currently in the process of mulling over the offer and in the end I am sure this deal will be done or undone by simple dollars and cents, but it sure would be nice to chalk up a win for American pride. Some may call me old-fashioned, and the liberals might even call me simple-minded, but if these are the titles that come with being proud of my heritage and my country then call me whatever you want!

Until next time,

I am sure you have noticed from the numerous sale catalogs you’ve been receiving in the mail that bull sale season has again rolled around. I thought I would take a moment let you know how the bull market has been so far this year so maybe you can have an idea what to expect as you prepare to make your bull purchases. There have already been a handful of sales, including several different breeds, held around the region. This is a broad view of what I have seen so far.

In general the demand for bulls has been a little stronger when compared to this same time last year. This seems to be especially true for calving ease bulls, which really isn’t a big surprise to me considering the shortage of labor that we are currently experiencing. We are so spread out already, who has time to stop and help a cow calve?
If you are going to be searching out bulls that possess calving ease genetics this year you may have to pay a little more to get them bought or search a little harder than normal to find bulls that are similar in quality to what you have been buying without having to spend more for them. I do have one suggestion that might help you out as you look for this type of bull.

Most of the time we can tell if a bull will be calving ease by examining him physically along with inspecting his actual birth weight and birth weight (BW) EPD. If he hits all the marks that we are looking for in those three areas then we can feel pretty comfortable that he will work. The problem is that everyone else at the sale is looking for the same things you are. What if you had a tool that would allow you to confidently add more calving ease bulls to your list of potential candidates, which everyone else might not necessarily have marked down on theirs? We all know that there is a huge difference between a low birth weight bull and a calving ease bull. Just because a bull’s calves might weigh 70 pounds or 85 pounds when they are born their phenotypic make-up determines if the bull is calving ease regardless of what his calves weigh at birth.

Almost every one of the major cattle breed associations has developed a Calving Ease Direct (CED) EPD. Essentially what this EPD does is act as a tool that allows you to compare two or more bull’s probability of producing offspring that calve without assistance. When making these comparisons it is important to remember the higher the number the more likely the bull will be calving ease. That’s exactly the opposite of how you compare BW EPDs. So, for example, if you are comparing two bulls – one with a CED EPD of +4 and the second with a +9, the second bull’s calves will more likely be born without assistance even if the calves weigh a little more.

By using the CED EPD as an additional selection tool you might be able to locate bulls that possess a little more actual birth weight or a little higher BW EPD than you and other buyers would normally feel comfortable selecting as a sure shot calving ease bull, but in reality will fit your needs. You will more than likely, judging on what I have seen at sales so far, be able to get this bull bought at a discount while still maintaining the calving ease you are looking for in your bull battery.

Many breeders are starting to include the CED EPD in their catalog or sale supplements and if not I am sure they would be more than willing to get this information to you if you contact them prior to their sale. My example was very simplified because I didn’t want to bore you with the details, so I encourage you to visit with your seedstock provider(s) or the breed association of your choice to get more information on CED EPDs.

Good Luck!