Regardless of which segment you are talking to, you always hear concerns about consistency, uniformity, and focusing on genetic selection. Of course, no segment has made more progress, or developed more tools over the last 25 years, and backed that up with documented and steady incremental improvement. The rate of genetic improvement in the seedstock and cow-calf sectors is something that producers should rightfully take pride in.

When you study programs that have made the most progress, there is one trait they universally seem to share -- discipline. I love reading Zig Ziglar, and this is one of my favorite quotes: "When you discipline yourself to do the things you need to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them." Discipline in your breeding program will enable you to do some incredible things. Maintaining discipline across the board is what sets breeding programs apart.

For example, if one producer only emphasizes maternal traits, you may see moderate, easy-fleshing, good-uddered, calm cows that calved in a narrowly defined window. Another producer may have stacked generations of carcass merit, and have the impressive closeout sheets to go with it. Of course, without discipline those carcass cattle can be wild, bad-uddered, and hard-doing; or those maternal cattle can be some of the most disappointing around when they hit the feedyard or are hung on the rail.

We also know of those programs that have consistently used superior genetics, but have failed to institute discipline in terms of their breeding goals and objectives. They have only enjoyed lukewarm success as a result. Discipline and balance is what sets breeding programs apart. -- Troy Marshall