Riding Shotgun – Why Are We Here?
As we travel the highways and by-ways of the Limousin family and breed we often cuss and discuss the cattle business, sports, politics, great cheeseburgers and most of the time, the promotion and marketing of Limousin cattle.
Through “Riding Shotgun” we invite you to join us in the right-hand seat, so that we can let you in on what we find to be our marketing pet peeves, shortcuts and some of the favorite habits of top-flight professional producers. Grab a cup of coffee and take the ‘shotgun seat’—we are pleased to have you riding along.
As we were recently cleaning out the basement, we came across my college books and as I tried to decide what to do with the 50-year old copy of the textbook for Animal Science 1, it caused me to wonder how exactly did I get here and of what interest is that to you, my friends and family.
I went to the University of Missouri in the fall of 1974 to become a veterinarian and on my first day of Animal Science 1, with roughly 500 other shiny-face students, the professor’s first question was…How many of you are Pre-Vet majors? After 497 held up their hands, he added, I hope you love Bio Chem. I finished class and headed to my advisor and told her I needed a new major.
The second life-altering moment came at a Block and Bridle meeting, our featured speaker was Glen Klippenstein, owner and founder of Glenkirk Farms, Maysville, Missouri. Glen gave a great talk on the importance of American Agriculture and the responsibility and satisfactions of being a seedstock breeder. I’m going to try and recreate that talk because we can all learn from Glen’s insight.
The beauty and responsibility of the seedstock business is that your product is worth what it weighs as a commodity and what you add into it as a seedstock professional—the Four Ps.
• Pedigree is the basis of the business. It is a road map to that animal’s genetic package and tells you its lineage back farther than most of us can go into our own history. The pedigree is what everything else is based upon. It can help in tracking defects and figuring heterosis. It is the animals “Carfax.” It documents the planned matings made by you and all that went before you. DNA now is tied to the pedigree and helps the breeder make smart decisions to increase performance in any variety of traits. The pedigree is the guideline for…
• Predictable Performance is what your clients want to buy. They want to add the performance traits into their program that you have implemented in your product. Calving-ease, growth, feed efficiency, structure, maternal and carcass acceptability are all performance traits and heritable. As a professional seedstock producer you need to measure these, and in combination with your pedigree, you can document the increased desirability of your genetics over the genetics of others. This puzzle of selective mating is the fun part of the process. Are you combining the right traits, using the best pedigrees and weighing all the factors to create the best critter? You are the architect; you design the product using the tools at your disposal. It is your job to be forward thinking and to cover the details—otherwise you are simply a multiplier. Your job is not finished by creating a pedigree with predictable performance, you must add…
• Promotion, the final step in creating a product that demands a special price. Promotion is not only advertising, it is the extra things you add into your product to make it desirable. Your guarantee, your customer service, your involvement in the industry are all part of what your customer is purchasing.
• They are all wrapped up in the product for which you are asking a Premium Price. Remember, we started this with they are ALWAYS worth what they weigh. If you want a premium you must add it in.
It’s a challenge I hope we are all willing to accept. When you see your product work for someone, when they return to purchase their next bull or female, you will remember why you got into the seedstock business to start with.
We’ll see you down the road.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
Mark A Smith