Ranchers at Black Hills Stock Show pay big bucks for cattle genes
RAPID CITY S.D. – The Black Hills Stock Show has always been about the exchange of products and ideas in the cattle industry.
But in addition to trading livestock, ranchers are also trading DNA. At the Stock Show, ranchers buy and sell diverse breeds of cattle, each with their own unique traits. But if ranchers want to make those characteristics part of their own herd, they can pay top dollar for cattle semen and embryos.
“It takes some of the guessing out as much as it can,” said Colt Keffer with the American International Charolais Association. “You know the genetics, you know as much about them as you can so when you make that breeding decision two years down the road when you finally get paid, it takes some of the guessing work out.”
Ranchers are able to take semen and embryos from the leading gene pools, and reproduce with those genetics. Keffer said in most markets, cattle is sold by the pound.
“They don’t want to produce just a commodity type of product, they want to produce the best product they can,” said Keffer, “So they source the genetics from the best cattle they can, whether you’re looking for low birth weight bulls or you’re looking for high birth weight genetics, you want the best in that particular niche.”
The right genetics could influence the herd for generations. It depends on the breed and the characteristics but an average embryo can go for $1,000. And when the cattle grow up and go to market, it’s about raking in the bucks.
“It makes them look the same, it makes them gain the same, it gives them the best chance of being uniform at sale time,” Keffer said.