Tag Archives: Angus

The Little Opportunities

BY ZEKE McCARTY, YPC Leadership Board

I recall an instance when I was grocery shopping with a good friend of mine about a year ago. We were walking through the beef section of the meat department at our local King Soopers, checking prices and cuts just to see if anything stood out as a “must have” at the moment.

InteractiveMeatCaseAs we were browsing, we hear a man behind us ask the meat department employee a question. He held up two different packages of beef and asked, “Which is better: Angus or Choice?” The employee quickly piped up stating, “Angus is better.” As soon as my friend heard her answer, he couldn’t help but intervene in the conversation to make sure the consumer was quickly educated on the facts of what exactly Angus beef was and how that compared/related to USDA Choice beef. It was a textbook maneuver if I had ever seen one. He politely introduced himself into the conversation, provided his credentials in order to be viewed as a reliable source, and explained the facts.

As I reflected on the occurrence, I thought: “What would have happened if my friend had not said anything?” That consumer would have been “educated” by the meat department “specialist” when in reality, it was simply her opinion. That consumer would have gone along, for potentially his entire life, without knowing the basic facts regarding Angus beef and Choice beef. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to discount Angus beef by any means. I just believe in the principle of allowing someone to make their own opinion after they’ve been provided the facts. But not only that, think about the number of people this one consumer could influence throughout his lifetime with the information he was provided by simply word of mouth.

PrintA few weeks ago, at the same King Soopers’ beef section, an almost identical situation arose. I happened to overhear a man ask a meat department employee (different employee) what the difference was between Angus and Choice beef. At least this employee didn’t take it upon himself to offer his opinions as facts which I give him credit for. He simply told the man, “I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference.” I knew at that moment, it was up to me to step up and provide a little education, which I did. As I reflected again, I couldn’t help but imagine how many times a day that must happen. How many consumers look to these “experts” in their field of customer service and are provided with wrong or no information at all?

Now, my purpose isn’t to degrade my local King Soopers or ridicule the meat department employees by any means. I still continue to shop there and still continue to interact with the people. My purpose is simply to challenge you as I have myself. Be aware and take advantage of the little opportunities that arise where you can provide some insight and knowledge concerning our industry. If we want our industry to strive, we must do our part to provide and promote the truth and facts in a misinformed, consumer driven world.

Editor’s note: If you would like to know more about beef cuts and grades, check out the Interactive Meat Counter for more information and ways you can save at the store. Images and information provided by the Beef Checkoff. Beef It’s What’s For Dinner. 


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Montana’s Global Reach


Oro y Plata

Montana’s state motto represents the riches of this great land of the north. Montana has always been well versed in the pioneering spirit and that tradition continues today. Although the jetliner has replaced the covered wagon, the adventurous nature of the states’ inhabitants is continually taking them to the far reaches of the globe in search of making the job of growing food a bit more profitable, less cumbersome, and more interesting.

The Land Down Under…

945608_10151522406397849_974608673_nIf you haven’t met a rancher from Montana, just wait around a bit and it’s likely that you just might. From Russia to Africa to Australia, Montana’s beef sector has a grasp on nearly the entire world. 

Meet Karoline Rose, founder of Collegiate Stockgrowers at Montana State University. It could be argued that Karoline was the driving force behind the Collegiate Stockgrowers movement all across the country over the last year and a half. Karoline was recently in Australia where she worked on a large beef operation and learned the ways of cattle ranching from an upside-down perspective (that’s a hemispherical joke!).

“There is nothing better than a good set of neighbors.  Rural living here is very similar to the US and I love every minute of it.  We are knees deep in calves and yesterday Pete and Donna came over and tagged calves with us for 2 hours.  The 5 of us worked extremely hard and ended up tagging about 60 calves in 4 hours.  Without their help, we wouldn’t have even driven through every paddock.

You can read more about Karoline’s adventures here.

…Up Above,

1064233_10200896252435849_796907344_oIn Russia, Amy Dellera and Jane’a Elke are helping the Stevenson Sputnik Ranch with Artificial Insemination efforts and getting a little taste of what life is like nearly 6,000 miles from the ranch gate. Russia has been a top destination for Montana’s seed stock producers, and since 2010 nearly 44 of the states’ ranchers have sold live cattle or genetics to Asia’s largest country, clearing nearly $20 million in sales.[1] If that isn’t exciting news, what is?

…and in the Middle!

1014806_10152915889065557_382700201_oOn the African front, yours truly has been to Ghana once already this summer and I will again be returning in August with my brother Trey. Both Trey and myself are undertaking Fellowships as part of Texas Christian University’s – Institute of Ranch Management in an effort to establish relations with Ghanaian businessmen, ranchers, and government officials for the purpose of building a demonstration ranch in the Lower Volta Region of coastal Ghana.

The ranch will be similar to a fully-functioning extension service here in the U.S., and local cattlemen will be able seek assistance, learn production techniques, build livestock budgets, plan grazing rotations, and much more, all through the ranches various fellows that will be attending on a yearly basis. The Institute also plans to send various industry professionals to Ghana with the purpose of providing much needed advice on things such as animal health, genetics, pest control and more.

Back to Montana

So once again, if you haven’t met someone from Montana, wait around for a while and you likely will. As you can see, Montana is representing industry players on a global front. These professionals recognize the the face of a changing global economy, and the importance that will have in the future to the ranchers at home.


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YPC’s Lauren Chase featured on I Am Angus

Published on Dec 3, 2012 by the American Angus Association
In this “I Am Angus” segment, photographer and writer Lauren Chase shares her journey from the city to the ranches of Montana. For more information, visit or

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Moosday: Peaches N Cream

This week Moosday features an interesting mix of cattle from Ronan, Montana. Basin View Ranch may only have 40 head of cattle, but they are 100% committed to producing top quality beef and caring for the environment. Owen and Cindy Forbes moved from California to ranch with their kids.  They work with their neighbors regularly, from helping during calving season to combining loads of cattle to ship to the feedlots. Cindy makes and sells crafts on Facebook as a hobby, and also loves spending time with “her girls” (the cows). Look carefully at the names on the ear tags. You’ll meet Cream, Cookie, and Cotton. The cattle are Angus, Shorthorn, Shorthorn/Angus Cross.

Happy Moosday!

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Moosday


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Angus Moosday

It’s everyone’s favorite day of the week: Moosday! This week, we feature the Angus breed. The American Angus Association has done a fantastic job with marketing the Angus name. You can see their latest updates on their Facebook page, Twitter account, television programs, websites, blogs, and much more. Happy Moosday!

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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Moosday


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“EAT BEEF!” – Interview with Iowa cattleman, Steve Swenka

The Cattle Call Blog editor, Lauren Chase, interviewed Iowa farmer & cattle producer Steve Swenka. He and his family of three grow corn, beans, oats and hay, but their main emphasis is on purebred Angus seedstock bulls and breeding heifers. Swenka shares his thoughts on why beef is important for the world and gives advice to young producers…

Does your family have any history with the cattle industry?

I am the 4th generation here on this family farm. My Great-Grandfather had a small herd of Hereford cows. He fed his calves and sold them finished. My Grandfather started out feeding cattle and then started an Angus cow herd with my father when my father graduated from high school. My father began keeping detailed records on the cow herd and started an Angus seedstock operation. I became involved after I graduated from College in 1990. We expanded our cow herd and also our seedstock offering. We use artificial insemination (AI) embryo transfer, ultrasound evaluation (for carcass traits) and keep detailed Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR).
Why do you think the beef industry is important for Iowa? For the nation? For the world?

The beef industry’s fundamental responsibility is to provide a wholesome protein source for citizens of our state, country and our world.  When pondering this statement, I can’t help but think of my son’s high school strength & conditioning football coach emphatically yelling “Eat Beef !”  Most athletes readily understand the importance of beef in their diet and some require twice the normal adult RDA to grow lean muscle mass. Increasingly, endurance athletes are eating more beef to increase  performance and overall health.  It’s not just athletes that need protein in their diet, we all do! A lack of protein in our diets will cause muscle weakness and can suppress our immune systems.
With all of this in mind, this is really just the tip of the ice burg when considering the importance of the beef industry. In Iowa alone, nearly 30,000 family farms are involved in the beef industry.  40,000 jobs across Iowa are either directly or indirectly related to the cattle industry.  And certainly not least, $5.1 Billion comes from the Iowa Cattle industry.
In the United States, nearly $100 Billion is generated in the sale of beef, exported beef, and hides & offal. Direct and indirect employment related to production and processing of beef cattle supports over 1.4 million full-time-equivalent jobs in the U.S.

Why is the Beef Industry important? Because the West wasn’t won on salad! :)

Why should farmers and ranchers be stewards of the land? 

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about why farmers & ranchers should be good stewards of the land is, “Why shouldn’t they? and moreover, why shouldn’t all Americans be good stewards of the land and be mindful of watershed protection, conservation, etc.
As farmers & ranchers we feel a connection to the land that our urban counterparts may not necessarily share. Many of our farms & ranches have been in the family for generations and some have achieved or are approaching Century/Heritage Farm status. We feel a moral obligation to care for the land and pass it down to the next generation. My Grandfather, who is now 94, stated numerous times throughout his life that his main ambition was to leave the land in better condition than when he got it. As a young boy I remember my Grandfather telling me “take care of the land and it will take care of you.”  This fundamental belief in land stewardship is deeply ingrained in my family and I hope & plan to pass it down to my sons one day.  It’s no secret that good conservation practices and land stewardship go hand in hand with better crops and better yields, but a healthy bottom line is not  the main reason that farmers & ranchers are good stewards of the land.

Do you have any advice for NCBA’s young producers?

 As cliche as this may sound, work hard and save your money! This was the advice given to my grandfather, who passed it to my father, who passed it on to me. As a young man (say early 20’s) this piece of advice probably goes in one ear and out the other.  I will promise you that as you approach age 40 (not to reveal my age) you will completely understand this overused statement and realize that it’s pretty good advice.
Today we live in a world of “gotta have the newest and bestest and gotta have it now”  This can be a hard thing to deal with as young NCBA producers where you don’t always receive a weekly, steady, paycheck as many of your urban counterparts do. As farmers & ranchers, we seem to always have 100’s of business expenses waiting for our money and can’t always spend money on personal luxury. It may seem unfair or that we are deprived in some way, but that’s really not the case. Spending money on “needs” rather than “wants” builds character and self discipline  and this is what will pay for ranches and sustain your operation.
Get involved in organizations like NCBA, Farm Bureau, your local Cattlemen’s association or others. There is a lot of information that can be gained from participation in these organizations. Furthermore, our industry is facing increased regulations. These organizations can help with the issues and legislation that is affecting our livelihood.  They are always looking for new young leaders. Get involved!

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No bull here


I recently attended my first registered bull sale here in Montana. These black Angus bulls pulled in high dollars for their anticipated future on the ranches. I had every intention of starting my own herd, but unfortunately, didn’t buy one…thought I should probably get a ranch first. NCBA president, Bill Donald, opened the sale with a few encouraging words about the beef industry. After the sale, the Mussard Family dished out some delicious steak for everyone and danced the night away, celebrating high cattle prices and good company.
Here’s an audio slide show of the day.


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