KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Circle A Ranch was recognized as a Hereford Innovator by the American Hereford Association (AHA) Jan. 14. Mark Akin, general manager, was presented the award during a ceremony at the National Western in Denver. Circle A Ranch was chosen for this award because of its commitment to the heterosis project began in 2007 in partnership with the AHA.
Circle A Ranch, headquartered in Iberia, Mo., is a 32,000-acre, 10,000-head Angus seedstock and commercial cow-calf operation headquartered in Iberia, Mo., with satellite operations in Stockton and Huntsville, Mo., and Lineville, Iowa.
To start the project, Circle A Ranch AI-bred 600 commercial Angus cows to 10 Hereford bulls with the goal of comparing the best of its Angus herd to the best of the Hereford-Angus cross. The control group included progeny from three proven Angus sires.
Mark Akin says, “The female side was what really peaked my interest, because we’ve bred purebred Angus for all these years, and I was curious if the heterosis from the cross would make available a better conception rate for us, and it did.”
The results proved the value of heterosis, and advantages in profitability, cash flow, herd size, and retained female fertility and longevity.
Because of the heterosis project results, Circle A is currently using 24 Hereford bulls as natural service sires on their fall calving cows.
Circle A markets more than 400 black and Red Angus bulls and 500 Angus females annually, and now a group of black baldie Hereford-sired replacements as well. The 9,000-head commercial herd has provided a great “real life” testing ground for the registered seedstock herd. Jack Ward, AHA chief operating officer and director of beef improvement, says, “Circle A has done more than any beef seedstock operation in the world to accurately describe genetic differences for both output and input costs and develop a true profitability index.”
In May 2007 the company started Circle A Feeders, a 5,000-head feedlot all under one roof, designed to capture added-value and increase returns for Circle A customers.
All the retained heifers are developed at Circle A’s Lineville, Iowa, ranch. The heifers are sorted into contemporary groups and grown and bred at one location. During this time, the heifers are monitored carefully and must meet rigorous standards, or they are culled. Some are marketed as bred heifers at either the spring or fall sale; those remaining are retained as replacements in the cow herd. By collecting data on both the feeder calves and replacement females produced at Circle A, the company is constantly re-evaluating and improving its program.