Take Advantage of Windy Bar's Reputation for Carcas Quality

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Windy Bar RanchGetting started in retained ownership can be difficult if you start from scratch. This is why, for the three options mentioned above, it helps to have cattle with a history. We can help you take advantage of Windy Bar Ranch’s reputation for carcass quality. That reputation is documented in the March 23, 2005 posting in the Beef Quality Connection, a web-based publication of Certified Angus Beef and the Drovers’ Journal. That publication had an article about Windy Bar Ranch and T-Bone Feeders in Kansas entitled, “Cattle with History.” T-Bone Feeders is the feedyard where we have been sending our feeder cattle for over 10 years, and they are interested in cattle with history. Here are some excerpts from the “Cattle with History” posting:

Cattle with history fill the bill best at T-Bone Feeders. Gary Wickwar, long-time manager of the 6000-head Goodland, Kansas feedyard, sources cattle from the northern and central plains producers. . . . ‘We buy a lot of calves and we do prefer cattle from sources with a history of feedlot performance and carcass merit,’ states Wickwar. ‘We want cattle capable of gaining efficiently, producing a high-yielding carcass, and grading well enough to pick up some premiums for quality. We’re always looking for the right kind, but we’ve been going back to the same ranches for years. We go back because their cattle are predictable.’
T-Bone’s retained ownership customers have been gathering and using the information for a long time, to learn what they are producing and make improvement where it’s needed.
[One] T-Bone customer, Michael Klein, owns Windy Bar Ranch, near Austin, Texas. Running 130 registered Angus cows, it isn’t a big operation, for Klein has chosen to focus on quality over quantity. And that quality is data-driven.
‘You can’t know what you have unless you collect actual carcass data from your cattle,’ says Klein.
He started about 15 years ago, sending small groups of steers to the Certified Angus Beef Value Discovery Program. Even after that program ended, Klein continued to feed increasingly larger groups of steers, through T-Bone Feeders.
‘There are plenty of feedlots that are closer,’ offers Klein. ‘But even if I send only 30 steers, they treat me like I was their biggest customer. They’ve been a big help in getting the data.’
While carcass information plays a big role in Klein’s breeding and culling decisions, he stresses the importance of a balanced approach. Without reproduction, there is no production, so his breeding herd must fit the environment. Propagating cow families has been just as important to achieving his objectives as has sire selection.
Klein wants rapid growth, but moderate mature size. He wants cattle capable of achieving a high quality grade, but also selects against excessive external fat thickness to help target a desirable yield grade. Klein says carcass information has revealed the strengths and weaknesses in his herd, and helped him breed for a ‘total package.’
In recent years, data-driven selection has spurred a 10% increase in average daily gains exhibited by Klein steers. Yet, carcass weights have increased by only 2%. The number of Yield Grade 1 and 2 carcasses has increased by 13%.
‘Your overall progress comes slowly, because so many traits are antagonistic. You have to avoid extremes for any trait,’ states Klein. ‘It’s a time-consuming process, but it can be done.’

Windy Bar Ranch also was featured in the September 2004 issue of the Angus Journal, in an article entitled, “Small Numbers, Big Results.” We were featured because of the carcass merit of our pen of 30 steers that went to the rail in June 2004 and posted impressive carcass results. But the article also mentions our rocky start in the business of retained ownership. Here is an excerpt from the “Small Numbers, Big Results” article:

Being a ‘small cattle feeder’ never concerns Michael Klein. As the owner of Windy Bar Ranch, Stonewall, Texas, he has realized that lot size doesn’t matter when you want to establish a quality-focused, data-driven, registered Angus cattle operation.
Klein has been enrolling anywhere from five to 30 steers in the Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) Program for 15 years—dating back to the days of the CAB Value Discovery Program.
[Klein] admits getting started wasn’t easy. However, time has provided him the chance to become successful. ‘The first year I enrolled five head in the Value Discovery Program,’ Klein says. ‘Two of them died and one got really sick, so only two head made it. When that happens, you learn pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t.’
After feeding with T-Bone Feeders, Goodland, KS for nearly a decade, manager Gary Wickwar says Klein’s cattle are far from average. ‘Michael’s cattle feed as good as they grade.’ Wickwar says. ‘Michael’s most recent 30-0 pen came into the feedlot in December weighing 581 pounds and left in June weighing 1173 pounds. That is an average gain of 3.43 pounds per day.’
That same pen of cattle had a CAB acceptance rate of 66.7%.
Klein says his consistent results have come from years of data collection on his 120-head, registered Angus herd.

Our group of 21 steers from 2003 graded 90% Choice, and 76% Yield Grade 1’s and 2’s. Of the 21 steers, 66.7% (14 of them) qualified for Certified Angus Beef (CAB). Only two steers graded Select and only five were Yield Grade 3’s. The average marbling score was 6.2 (Choice). The average ribeye size was 14 square inches. The average fat thickness was 0.5 inches. The average Yield Grade was 2.6. For the month of June 2004, this pen of 21 steers had the second highest CAB acceptance rate (66.7%) of any group of steers at any CAB licensed feedlot in the United States for that month.

Those steers from 2003 were not an aberration. Our latest mixed group of 24 steers and heifers from 2004 was processed at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant on July 11, 2005. They also were fed at T-Bone Feeders. They went 100% Choice and Prime (92% Choice and 8% Prime) and 96% Yield Grade 2’s and 3’s. Like last year’s group, they went 66.67% Certified Angus Beef. Even with break-even projections based on $110/cwt feeder cattle when they went on feed, these “bottom enders” posted over $117/head profit. This group is 100% Windy Bar Ranch bred, born and raised.

In 2004’s group, the four top-grading carcasses, two Prime and two High Choice, were all sired by Windy Bar Lavaca H844. In 2003’s group, the top six carcasses were sired by Windy Bar Pedernales L145. These two bulls sired the top carcasses even against steers sired by popular carcass bulls such as TC Stockman 365, SS Traveler 6807 T510, Alberda Traveler 416 and others.

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