Our philosophy is simple: survive. Please enjoy reading the following guidelines to explain our breeding decisions and selection emphases which have lead to a strong survival for the past 40 years of raising registered cattle.
Cattle performance depends on a combination of genetics and environment; therefore, the constant in which we endure is obviously not the environment. Through this equation, genetics must be able to react, adapt and optimize during favorable weather while being able to endure, maintain and even reproduce during the unfavorable weather seasons. From this simple approach, we have dubbed our trait selections as “convenience traits”. We strive for these traits with no single trait being soley sought after, but the whole package being desired.Since different genetics bring different packages, mating decisions carry trait emphasis, but the entire herd is aimed at cattle which are easy to maintain, resulting in our goal to produce cattle -- “convenience for cattlemen!”
Maternal: New calves cannot sustain life without a great start.We cannot expect a sprint runner to win a race after a bad start, so why would be expect cattle to perform after a year of age? When calves are born, the cows are expected to have ample milk with a high level of colostrum and be able to protect those calves.
Predation is a very uncommon occurrence, but it does happen and these cows need to be ready. Obviously maternal characteristics are derived around a solid udder. We are very critical of udder structure. We feel that problems in udder structure helped lead to the detriment of the Hereford breed's decline from a few decades ago, and we want our customers to know we put strong selection pressure on udder quality. This selection pressure, from the early days of Ipsen Herefords, has resulted in a consistent 96% weaning rate.
Reproduction: With input costs at record highs, it is impractical to be patient with cattle that do not excel until later in life. From this, we strive to have cows that breed easy, regardless of condition and weather. Our AI program is quick, simple and easy. The cows are synchronized during November with the basic CIDR protocol, AIíd 12 hours after first observed standing heat, and turned in with a cleanup bull two weeks later. Cows are not given a second chance to be AIíd. When replacements are selected, AI-sired calves are given a first chance.This selection process over the past two decades has lead to a very fertile cowherd resulting in a consistent 75-80% conception rate from AI.
Performance: Performance pressure in our cattle has increased in the last few years. Before Ipsen Cattle Company became a strictly fall-calving operation in 2005, performance was maintained at a strong level with average weaning weights ranging from 650-750 lbs. when weaned in the fall. The cattle composition and cyclical season provided a strong relationship. Grass came when calves were at peak performance levels and cows were at high energy need levels. Fall feed came as calves were optimizing growth and becoming self-dependent. ADG levels reach astonishing levels at this time.However, labor demands became overwhelming with the situation at hand, and ICC moved to fall calving.
Now we fight the seasonal cycle with calves hitting the ground in green grass. But, by the time these calves can utilize feed for performance, lignin levels are high and protein levels are down. Manufactured hay feeding is the result.This has also increased our farming pressure to produce more hay for the same amount of cows. Calves must fight the winter cold and still gain weight.Cows must maintain and reproduce from low-energy feeds. Though our weaning weights have come down slightly from the added environmental pressure, our yearling weights have been able to maintain, and in fact, have grown in our replacement heifers! These cattle now have more pressure on themselves to perform than ever before at ICC. These cattle must utilize a very high percentage of feed to satisfy energy gain requirements. We strongly feel this will convert to added bottom line dollars for our customers.
Phenotype: This is a broad convenience trait, but still very important.What we describe as "phenotype" is correct structure. Our cows run in valley pastures, foothills and high mountain ranges.Their feet must be able to maintain in all these conditions.If they canít, we donít keep them.Adequate muscling is included in phenotype. We breed for a slightly moderate herd; most of our cows will reach around a 6.0 frame. These cattle must be stout, gain pounds easily and maintain their structure at all times. They must have capacity. Without this, the winter selection process will cull these types of cattle. The capacity to eat feed each day from a one-time feeding, and keep this feed 24 hrs until the next feeding. The cows must be able to supply themselves, the calf at side and the calf inside. Our phenotype, we feel, is what truly sells our cattle.If we donít enjoy looking at them, we donít expect our customers to either.
These traits have been the driving factors of our cowherd since it began to build in the late 1960s. When our cowherd became a truly registered seedstock providing herd, we knew these traits would lead to ensured success. A few of the pedigrees in our Hereford cows are older names, but we feel these are the type of cattle that met and exceeded our demands for convenience traits.If they performed well, they stayed;If they didnít, they left.Our cowherd is driven by the pressure. We love to take people through our cows just to see their satisfied reaction.
In the mid 1990s, Mark Ipsen decided to introduce the Angus breed to the operation and change Ipsen Herefords to Ipsen Cattle Company. The theory behind this was obvious -- We had too many customers asking for Angus cattle to match our Herefords and we wanted to maintain the market share that the Ipsen name had built. We also feel the best hybrid is the English cross, white face cattle. The black baldy is by far the best type of cross for all the convenience traits mentioned here.They are the most popular for a commercial cowherd, and are even more sought after for recipient cows in registered programs.
At ICC, we are continuously striving to produce cattle that will work for any ranching operation in any geographic location. From pasture to plate, we have always been dedicated to producing quality beef.
From performance testing at various locations in the Intermountain West, to utilizing innovative production practices like artificial insemination and embryo transfer, our cowherd has been extremely productive and efficient and our bulls have been proven to work for a wide variety of cattlemen.