Beef Improvement Federation

BIF Announces Seedstock, Commercial Producer Award Finalists

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) has announced finalists for its Seedstock and Commercial Producer awards. Both developed in 1972, the Seedstock Producer Award recognizes outstanding seedstock producers across the nation while the Commercial Producer Award recognizes commercial producers for their dedication to improving the beef industry at the commercial level.  Both awards are sponsored by Drovers.

Finalists for this year’s Seedstock Producer Award are: Bieber Red Angus, Blythe Family Farms, B.R. Cutrer Inc., Express Ranches and Tennessee River Music Inc.

Bieber Red Angus, Leola, South Dakota, is operated by Craig and Peggy Bieber. They sell more than 500 bulls and 400 females every year and provide performance information including EPD traits on every animal. They calve more than 900 registered Red Angus females and wean additional ET calves. The operation has a limited crop component producing mainly feed for bull and female development and herd maintenance during winter. They remain consistent in their approach to breeding by using technology to improve performance and carcass traits. The operation utilizes expected progeny differences (EPDs), carcass ultrasound and DNA technology to improve the performance and quality of the genetics they produce.

Since 1890, Blythe Family Farms has been located near White City, Kansas, in the Kansas Flint Hills. Debbie Lyons-Blythe and Duane Blythe began raising registered Angus cattle in 1989. The cow herd consists of 175 registered Angus and 225 Angus-based crossbred cows and bred heifers. In addition, 350 replacement heifers are developed and bred for sale annually. The Blythes use artificial insemination extensively in their cow herd and heifer program. Since 2005, more than 4,500 bred heifers have been marketed by private treaty and consignment sales to buyers across the nation. The Blythes have chosen to focus on seedstock from a female perspective, raising and offering herd-building genetics and well-managed females that provide a foundation to many herds.

B.R. Cutrer, Inc., is owned by Brandon and Rachel Cutrer, Wharton, Texas. The couple runs 350 head of Brahman cattle and F-1s and stand at the very top of the upper echelon of Brahman breeders worldwide. They are the breeder of six International Champion Grey Brahman females of the last decade, the #1 Brahman AI sire in the USA for the last three years (Noble), and the #1 polled Grey Brahman bull and female of the breed. In 2020, they exported cattle and genetics to 17 countries and 5 continents, including over 30,000 units of semen on their Brahman AI sires. BRC showcases the beef industry from pasture to plate. They blaze a new trail including being the only Brahman breeders in the USA utilizing genomic-enhanced EPDs, and the founders of Brahman Country Beef and FitBeef, both 100% Brahman branded beef programs.

Express Ranches, Yukon, Oklahoma, is owned by Bob Funk and managed by Jarold Callahan. In 1989, Funk purchased a small group of Limousin cattle and never looked back. Fast forward to 1996, Funk and Jarold Callahan, his newly hired herd manager, purchased their first Angus herd which immensely impacted the trajectory of Express Ranches. Twenty-five years later, Funk has built one of the largest seedstock operations in the United States while simultaneously being involved in every facet of beef production. The ranch registers an average of 2,000 head of Angus and approximately 400 head of Hereford cattle per year. The operation has several facilities in Oklahoma, a commercial herd in New Mexico and owns one-third of a feedlot in Oklahoma. Additionally, the ranch hosts six production sales a year.

Tennessee River Music, Inc. (TRM), located in Fort Payne, Alabama, is a diversified cattle operation centered on producing quality Hereford and Angus genetics. The Hereford herd was established in 1981 with an Angus herd being developed in the late 1980s. This year, the 39th female production sale and 9th bull sale will be hosted. This diversified cattle operation consists of a custom bull collection facility, Lookout Mountain Genetics; the seedstock operation, Tennessee River Music; and an on-farm local meat market, The Market at TRM. TRM cattle are bred with emphasis on value in all facets, from conception to consumption. With a base in balanced EPD values from proven pedigrees. Beef quality is also a primary focus. TRM is a true family farm with each generation working side-by-side. Randy and Kelly Owen and Roland and Janet Starnes are actively involved in daily ranch duties. John and Randa Starnes serve as managers.

The winner of the Seedstock Producer Award will be announced during the BIF Symposium Awards Luncheon Friday, June 3.

Commercial Producer Award finalists are Parker Farms, Rezac Land & Livestock and Willis Ranch.

Parker Farms, Williams, California, is owned and managed by Doug and Judy Parker. Their diverse farming and ranching operation includes rice, walnut and livestock production. Their approximately 650 head of Angus and Angus-influenced fall and spring calving herds spend the winter and spring on annual-grass rangeland in the foothills of the Sacramento Valley and the summer and early fall on irrigated pastures on their ranches in Southern Oregon. The Parkers prioritize genetic improvement and were early adopters of estrus synchronization and artificial insemination in commercial herds. The family has developed their own replacements using AI for many years. Semen is obtained from purchased bulls including some with retained ownership from northern California seedstock producers. This practice allows them to purchase elite genetics economically because they can purchase fewer bulls than would otherwise be required. They purchase bulls that meet phenotypic standards and have trait measures, EPDs, and genomic measures that are in the top 10-20% of the breed.

Rezac Land & Livestock, Onaga, Kansas, was founded by Don and Barbara Rezac, and is a diversified ranch located on the northern edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. In 1986, their son, Jay, and his wife, Stacy, and Jay’s older brother Lance and his wife, Debra, formed a partnership. Since that time, the operation has grown substantially and today includes six partners – Jay and Lance; Jay’s sons, Russell and Matthew; and Lance’s children, Nicole and Garrett. Jay, Russell and his wife, Tiffany, and Matthew and his wife, Alexa, manage the cattle and rangeland near Onaga, KS. Jay’s daughter, Jayme, and her husband, Corey Lundberg, live on the Olsburg, Kansas, division, where Corey manages the cow herd and a starting lot. The cattle operation consists of 900 Simmental- and Angus-bred spring-calving cows. Once the calves are weaned, they are either sold or shipped to a commercial feedyard or finished in the family-owned feedyard. The cows graze year-round on native grass, stocks and cover crops. By following a strict grazing management plan, the Rezacs are able to maintain their cows with limited supplementation, while also keeping their natural resources in excellent condition.

Willis Ranch is nestled in the valleys of Cokeville, Wyoming. The combination of crops, cattle and kids serves as the foundation of their operation, ensuring the land remains fruitful, the cattle continuously provide profitability, and the kids carry on the multi-generational legacy. Originally from Laketown, Utah, the Willis family bought their current ranch in the early 1950s. About that time, a parcel of what the family still calls the B.Q. Ranch came up for sale and allowed growth across the Wyoming state line. Today, 24 pivots cover nearly 3,700 acres of flood-irrigated soil with 1,800 commercial cows surrounding it. Jordan Willis; his wife, Jennie; and their four children claim the Cowboy State as their own. His mother, Linda, and one brother, Jed; his wife, Stephanie; and their three children, still live in Utah, while oldest brother, James and his wife Tonya, live just up the hill. Willis Ranch is a diversified operation, committed to producing top-tier commercial Angus cattle, collecting detailed data, irrigating and farming their native lands and raising their family in a wholesome and respectable manner.

The winner of the Commercial Producer Award will be announced during the BIF Symposium Awards Luncheon Thursday, June 2.

BIF will host its 54th Annual Beef Improvement Federation Symposium June 1-3 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. For a complete schedule and registration information, visit BIFSymposium.com.

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The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) is an organization dedicated to coordinating all segments of the beef industry — from researchers and producers to retailers — in an effort to improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of beef production. The organization was initiated more than 50 years ago to encourage the use of objective measurements to evaluate beef cattle. Continuing the tradition, BIF is now the clearinghouse for developing standardized programs and methodologies for recording of performance data for all traits, from birth weights to carcass traits. Its three-leaf-clover logo symbolizes the link between industry, extension and research.