Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
June 22-25, 2021 • Iowa Event Center • Des Moines, Iowa

Give, Take and Communicate

BIF Young Producer Symposium focused on longevity and profitability.

DES MOINES, Iowa (June 22, 2021) — In the beef industry, you’ve got to learn to give and to take and to communicate. The words resonated in the conference room, moderator Brian McCulloh’s voice echoing slightly as he closed out the panel session.

History, balance and measurements were the main topics of the discussion — “Breeding for Profitability: Keeping Balance for the Long Haul” — hosted at the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Young Producer Symposium June 22 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Panelists Mary Ann Kniebel, Kniebel Cattle Co., White City, Kan.; Bart Jones, Red Hill Farms, Lafayette, Tenn.; and Steve Radakovich, Radakovich Cattle Co., Earlham, Iowa, are all long-standing members of the industry and were eager to pass on words of advice to young cattlemen.

“Hopefully you can learn from the mistakes we’ve made in the past,” Kniebel said in her opening statements, expressing faith in the next generation’s ability to continue to push the cattle industry forward.

To help achieve this progress, Jones provided a list of three actions he labeled as relevant to positive change. He said young producers must focus on raising good cattle, utilizing quality genetics and genetic data, and providing great customer service to buyers.

With the promotion of these three human actions, Jones said producers are able to identify the best females in the herd that can thrive in specific environments.

“There’s nothing that trumps fertility and maternal traits in the beef business,” he said of those top cows.

While he said he understands the importance of growth and carcass traits, it’s stayability, pregnancy rates and other similar characteristics in a female that help drive success in the long term.

Radakovich echoed Jones’ emphasis on the cow, reminding BIF participants that quality livestock help pass efficiency on to the consumer. At the end of the day, he said, it’s important to remember the world of beef cattle is based on supply and demand.

Genomics are key in the push for efficiency. Over the past several years, Radakovich said, genetic research and tools for producers have vastly improved.

“Genomics are essential in higher accuracies and developing EPDs (expected progeny differences),” he explained. Genomics help make cattle more reliable for customers.

Reliability is a challenge that Kniebel said the next generation of beef producers will have to tackle head-on. As technology and media rapidly expand, she said, consumers are starting to demand more and more.

“You’ll have to explain every move you make,” Kniebel said, “and that’s a whole other level to what you do.”

All three panelists said young producers possess the passion and tenacity to handle whatever challenges come their way.

“I think the biggest change for me has been in the actual producers — an exponential growth in knowledge and understanding of their own operations and their own end points,” Kniebel said. “There’s so much entailed in what they want to do, and it’s exciting.”

Find more coverage of the 2021 BIF Symposium in the Newsroom and on the Awards page at

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