Circle A Feeders, Huntsville, MO, continues to rewrite Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) records. From 2007 to 2008, during its inaugural year in the feeding business, Circle A posted an acceptance rate of 61.4% CAB and USDA Prime on 917 enrolled cattle, CAB says. During the current award year – June 2008 through May 2009 – the feedyard increased to 78.6% CAB and Prime on 1,285 head enrolled.

Those stats earned the feedlot, an enterprise of the large registered and commercial Circle A Ranch, repeat CAB honors as winners of the 2009 Quality Focus Award for yards with capacity of 15,000 head or less.

General Manager Mark Akin says Circle A staff honed their skill and requirements for cattle coming into the yard. They have “tightened down” on the qualifications, which include age-and-source verified (SAV), 600-800 lbs., less than 11 months old and – perhaps most importantly – 50% or more sired by Circle A bulls.

The customers must also wean the calves at least 45 days and give two rounds of vaccinations, but in return Circle A will buy full interest at a premium to the average market price.

“Genetics are a part of it, but education and management are the other parts,” Akin says. Marketing Manager Nick Hammett spends on-farm time with producers before their calves are accepted into the program.

“He is really our customer service manager or our fieldsman,” Akin says. “He walks through the cattle and talks with the owner to make sure it’s a good fit.”

Once calves are approved and purchased, Akin, feedlot manager Scott Crews and the rest of the team do everything in their power to keep the animals on the quality track. The 5,000-head yard is completely enclosed, with management set up to minimize stress from arrival through harvest.

The market has not rewarded Choice-grading carcasses over Select as much as usual, but Akin says their sights remain high in anticipation of seasonal adjustments.

“It’s just like everything. With those seasons, there’ll be another with a wide Choice/Select spread, so you don’t make changes,” he says. “The feedyard is set up as the ‘top of the top’ in cattle-feeding operations, and those are the kind of cattle we’re going to recruit. We’re not going to change that.”
-- CAB release