Some of the incentive to change cowherd genetics may come from the lure of various value-based marketing programs. In this year’s survey, 31.9% of respondents say they are involved in value-based marketing, while 68.1% are not. Regarding types of value-based programs, preconditioning, and source and age verification, are the most prevalent. In fact, in a dead heat for the top spot, 73.3% of respondents who participate in value-based marketing say they provide information on calf age, and the exact same number say they precondition their calves. Source of origin at 67.3% and country of origin at 55.8% were next, followed by implant-free at 49% (Figure 4).

Of those who do take part in a value-based marketing program, 17.7% say they’ve changed the breed of bull they purchased in the last five years, while 82.3% did not. What’s more, 13.4% say they changed seedstock suppliers in the past five years in order to participate in a specific value-added program. That’s up slightly from 2010, when 11.5% of respondents said they changed seedstock suppliers so they could participate in a specific value-added program.

Value-base marketing of calves

And buying and owning the bull battery is still the most common way of acquiring bulls. Readers report that 79% of the bulls in the pasture are purchased and only 1.6% are leased. However, readers say 19.7% of the bulls are home-raised. Of the bulls that were purchased, 47% of readers say they bought from seedstock suppliers they’ve dealt with for more than five years. Meanwhile, 30.7% say they have dealt with their current seedstock supplier for 3-5 years, and 22.4% say they bought bulls from a seedstock breeder they dealt with for the first time. Just over half, at 50.8%, say they buy at private treaty, while 46.1% buy at live auction and 3.1% buy via video auctions.

AI cattleAmong commercial cow-calf operators responding to the survey, 45.2% use artificial insemination (AI). Of those using AI, 71% say they use the technology to breed both mature cows and heifers, while 24% use AI primarily on heifers, and 4.8% use it primarily on cows.

And those who use AI appear to rely on it heavily, with 37% reporting use of AI on 81%-100% of their cows and heifers. On the other end of the spectrum, 23% say they AI 0%-20% of their herd, followed by 16.1% who AI from 21%-40% of the herd (Figure 5).