TODAY: Our goal is to produce cattle that can meet the desires and needs of the beef cattle industry at all levels. We love showing cattle and finding that eye appealing heifer that can make it in the ring will always be something that we get excited about. Still, we strive to always have the end game in mind. We talk a lot about the idea of multi-trait selection; what this really means to us is that we are selecting what we feel to be the best genetics to optimize cattle that will be successful for the commercial producer, the seed stock producer, the livestock showing enthusiast, the feedlot operator, the beef harvester, and ultimately the neighbor down the street or across the world that can enjoy a quality product that we all cherish from a nice tenderloin to the legacy of the traditional hamburger. The multi-trait selection mindset that we have is to do our best to excel in both the maternal and terminal beef cattle worlds. It all boils down to this: we strive to raise good looking beef cattle that will save us and you money by reducing the feed input costs through feed efficiency while being able to have those same cattle grade on the rail with high cutability without negotiating quality and tenderness.
HIGHLIGHT #1: The first Maine Max Bull Test and Sale in Wamego, KS was in 2016. There were 35 bulls from Maine-Anjou breeders and DeJong Ranch had three bulls from three different commonly used sires at DeJong Ranch. The data collected from this group will be implemented in the Maine-Anjou database and will add value to the breed's EPDs. Brian Hagedorn, the manager at the yard, indicated that many people were curious about the Maine-Anjou pen of bulls at the feedlot and wanted to know what the cattle were. The results: The entire Maine-Anjou pen of bulls gained 3.99 pounds per day over 122 days on feed. Of those, the three bulls from us where some of the younger bulls and started out 104.5 pounds lighter than all of the other bulls there. Even with starting lighter, our bulls gained an average of 4.19 pounds per day.
HIGHLIGHT #2: In 2016, we put five steers into a carcass data collection trial. You can see the full results on the chart below. The highpoints: All five of our steers where Yield Grade 1 & 2 with a dressing percentage of 72.91% and a Ribeye Area of 17.36 square inches. In addition, 60% of the steers graded Prime/Choice and 40% graded Select. The bigger picture is that the nearly 200 head of Maine cattle, when compared with other breeds, had a higher dressing percentage, had 77.9% that graded in YG 1 & 2, and still had the quality grade nearly level with all of the other breeds. In addition, the other breeds only had 60.8% that graded in YG 1 & 2. This data reaffirms what we have experienced; Maine-Anjou cattle produce a more desirable carcass yield while retaining the favorable quality grades that the industry is striving for.
HISTORY: When Buddy and Leo first made the decision to use continental breeds, the decision was made to try and increase the feed efficiency of the cattle that they currently had and to increase carcass size. Like any good breeding program, some genetics turned out to be very successful in doing this while still keeping the indisputable carcass quality traits of the Angus breed and other genetics, certainly failed. Some of the key decisions that were made throughout our past to aid in our genetic selections include, working with Marshal King from Boone, Iowa on a retained ownership partnership, taking part in several bull tests sponsored through the Maine-Anjou Association to track carcass traits, and enrolling steers and bulls in feed trials. With Marshal King, he took all of our steers and bottom end heifers to feed out and he took great care of the data collected to help us see the full picture on the genetics that we were developing. Our 30+ year partnership with Marshal was one of the greatest that we have had both from a friendship aspect as well as a professional aspect.