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It’s a black world out there. By that I mean the region in which CBW calls home is predominantly a black hided cow/calf community. Now however I am seeing “red”

Seeing red...

It’s a black world out there. By that I mean the region in which CBW calls home is predominantly a black hided cow/calf community.
Now however I am seeing "red”, as the bulk of this past week was spent traveling the state of Kansas with the fine folks of the American Hereford Association. The breed group hosted a tour to update the ag media on latest research findings within the breed, visit Hereford ranch operations and visit about the Certified Hereford Beef brand program.
It was a wonderful tour and I appreciate the AHA taking the time to host media for the event.
Along with the news outlets that were on hand, 10 of the AHA’s 12 board members accompanied us on the tour. This is a dedicated board made up of men throughout the U.S. They call themselves an eclectic group and it seemed well fitting as they all are from varied backgrounds and cattle operations. Their one uniting force is the Hereford breed and their belief in its ability to be the all-around genetic source needed for many of the cattle operations today.
My past travels to Kansas are virtually non-existent. I flew in to Kansas City years ago when I was on the staff of one of Farmland’s Youth Leadership Conferences. Since then I haven’t set foot in the "Show Me State”.
This last week changed all that. I can now say I have seen the Flint Hills, Smoky Hills and Greensburg, Kan. Greensburg, if you will recall, is the little community that was hit by an F5 tornado a couple of years ago. Since then the town has begun to rebuild and even has a TV program tracking its progress on Planet Green TV.
As our bus passed through the tiny rural town I cheered quietly for those who decided to stay and rebuild their community as it looks like it has been hard work.
Highlights of the trip were the American Hereford Association Headquarters, Ford County Feedyard in Ford; Sandhill Farms near Haviland; CK Ranch at Brookville, and in Kansas City the National Beef headquarters and Hen House Market, a grocery chain that sells Certified Hereford Beef.
To say I was impressed during this tour is a bit of an understatement. We saw exactly how the beef we raise goes from pasture to plate. Ranches and large scale feedyards are nothing new to me, but visiting the headquarters of National Beef - watching their daily operations and listening to its management, gave me a little reminder that the beef industry is such an intricate working giant. There are so many players that keep the so-called "ball in the air” each day for us.
The tour visits ended at Hen House a grocery market that goes above and beyond in merchandising and supporting regional farmers. Certified Hereford Beef is sold there, and from what Hen House meat director Jon Wissman said it sells well.
"In Kansas City it can be hard to distinguish yourself from other stores. Hands down this is the best beef product,” said Wissman.
Annually 17,000- 20,000 cattle with Hereford genetics are harvested and marketed through Hen House stores. It’s a testament to the strides Certified Hereford Beef has made since 1995 when AHA took it under wing.
To promote its branded beef program, the American Hereford Association has enlisted a full-fledged marketing team, certified feedyards and joined forces with two packing companies.
Not only does the program accept straight Hereford cattle, but F1 cross cattle like the Angus and Hereford cross know in the industry as black baldies.
"That is one of the great things about the programs requirements,” says Craig Huffhines, AHA’s executive vice president. "These black baldie cattle can fit into CHB and quite a few other programs if needed. It gives the packers more flexibility in marketing meat.”
With the majority of the United States raising Angus based herds the Hereford association feels it is in a prime spot to add value with a shot of heterosis provided by Hereford genetics. And they have research to back them.
At Circle A Angus Ranch in Iberia, Mo. 10 Hereford bulls were bred to Angus females. Those offspring were then analyzed against their straight Angus counterparts. What was determined was the Hereford influenced calves had a 7 percent increase in conception rate, along with improved feed efficiency and average daily gain.
Dan Moser, Kansas State University associate professor of genetics, and Vern Pierce, University of Missouri associate professor of agricultural economics evaluated the research findings and found that after 10 years, Hereford sired females would have generated a 20% advantage in herd size over straight commercial Angus cows due to increased fertility and longevity which equates to increased calving and replacement options.
Mark Akin, Circle A Ranch manager, says, "The female side was what really peaked my interest, because we’ve bred purebred Angus for all these years, and I was curious if the heterosis from the cross would make available a better conception rate for us, and it did.”
Codi Vallery is editor of

The Cattle Business Weekly and may be reached at 605-859-2022 or