General Program


20 years and we still expect balance in all traits.

Excerpts from past catalogs…

1993 – 'Anyone can breed numbers—we have tried all along to combine EPDs with udder quality, disposition, structure, mothering ability, and the 'cow look.' The cattle in this sale are not extreme in any trait… they are sound, solid, functional genetic seedstock that you can count on.

2007 – 'We will stay on a balanced course and try to improve all areas at once. A lot of tools have been developed for cattle breeding and there will be a lot more. The key to that is 'how you use them' without throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Remember, 'more' generally comes with a cost after an optimum point.'

2012 – 'Our program is somewhat different than some. We are total AI and ET. It is the most expensive way to run a program, but we sell seedstock, not just bulls. Neither are we on a mission to create the 'perfect' bull with extreme EPDs. Some breeds and breeders continue on the path to create the (example) 'minus 25 BW EPD, and +647# YW EPD spread bull.' We know that once some point is reached, foot size, mature cow size, terminal traits, etc., will kill maternal traits and longevity. It's already happening. Remember, you can go backwards with EPDs when you think you're going forward. We ease into our mating decisions with proven genetics.'
Two low paying jobs (Lori was the part time secretary for the Kansas Angus Association and Galen was KSU Beef herdsman), $4000, one cow and no land was the start of Fink Beef Genetics in 1977. The cowherd grew to a "massive" 25 cows over the next 10 years, keeping daughters and adding a few cows as money allowed.

It was decided at the start that we would be total AI. We used the hot, new, unproven bulls. After five years of stumbling, all kinds of genetics and chasing fads, we decided that we needed a program!

1987 was the decision-making year, either run or walk. We had an opportunity to purchase our choice of 27 bred heifers from the proven pedigree stacked cowherd of Hyline Angus, Montana. Nevermind the stock market crashed that week and working on nearly all borrowed money, we did it. This group along, with our "Miss," Vixon, Bonnie, and Formera cow families, set the base.

To have enough numbers to try to make it on cattle alone, an embryo program was put in place in 1988 by using commercial customer's cows for recipients. In the next two years, the ET program was greatly expanded. Customer service programs, new ideas, more rented land, were all headquartered out of a 40 acre rented headquarters. This site turned out to be the location of female sales that set records throughout the 90's and well into the new decade.

The program has now grown into one of the top 25 largest seedstock operations ranked by the NCBA since 2004. We market approximately 700 bulls each year nationwide. Females are sold through production sales and private treaty.

We still use nearly all AI and as many proven sires as possible. In 2012 and 2013, due to drought and pasture conditions, we have turned out a bull to breed a few cows.

We implant approximately 1000-1200 embryos each year. Many of these embryos are sexed male embryos, since the fall of 2011, in both breeds.

Charolais were added to the program in 1999 to give more options for customers. We believe there are several ways for customers to creat profit, through straight breeding or crossbreeding.

Our breeding program is ideally made up of sires that have approximately 100 daughters in production. This gives us an opportunity to evaluate udders, feet, disposition and "kind." We use this approach us much as possible. We have stacked many generations of this system through AI as possible.

The Charolais program, although not as old, was created the same way by using older proven sires. We now have 3-4 generations of lighter birth weight and calving ease built into our stacked pedigrees, still with outstanding growth.

Our goal is to continue to increase our bull sales, continue to stack pedigrees of both breeds by use of AI and supply commercial cattlemen with profitable genetics.
Seedstock Producers, Lead or Follow?

Seedstock producers are looked upon as the leaders of the cow/calf industry. They supply the genetic material for commercial cattlemen and have a definite influence on the nation's cow herd. However, I am not sure that they always lead, or that we should expect them to.

One problem seems to be that many seedstock producers are enamored by higher Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs), with little concern about their long-term consequences. The first thing many think about is using breeding animals with EPDs that are in highest 2% to 5% of their breed. That's why frame size, mature size and milk production of the animal's offspring often outstrip the commercial cow/calf producers' forage/feeding program, leading to poor reproductive efficiency. So why do they continue to do this? Probably because some buyers don't truly understand EPDs but continue to buy seedstock solely for the 'highest numbers.' The most fundamental principle that commercial cow/calf producers must remember is that 'reproductive efficiency is still the most important measure of profitability.' Don't lose sight of that as you choose breeding values in your cattle.

So, should seedstock producers lead or follow? I think that all parties need to make informed decisions that best serve their interests while keeping an eye on needs of the industry. Seedstock producers do set the direction for the nation's cow herd and, as a result, can determine the profitability of your cow/calf operation. But… the commercial cattleman ultimately decides on what he purchases. It's kind of like the 'golden rule' (he who has the gold makes the rules). You should buy breeding stock that will keep you in business for the long-term.

Reprinted with permission, Dr. Roy Burris, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky