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Phil Campbell cattle farm hosts seminar

Premier Angus Genetics is a beef cattle seedstock operation special to Franklin County, and it was recently the location of a farm tour and informational meeting for those in the cattle industry.

Dec. 13 the farm – which is located in Phil Campbell and owned by Robbie Tidwell and Keith Ergle – hosted the cattle seminar and tour for the 2018 Northwest Alabama Systems 360 group. Systems 360 is a program through the Alabama Extension System whose goal is educate cattle producers about animal management, sustainable practices and advanced marketing.

“What we do is unusual in our area,” Tidwell said.

At Premier Angus Genetics, Tidwell and Ergle develop herd sires and replacement females through artificial insemination and embryo transfers. Tidwell and Ergle have been running the farm for about five years now, and Ergle shared the company’s history at the seminar.

“He spoke about the importance of genetic progress, culling under-performing cattle, a defined calving season, marketing cattle and beef products and customer service,” said Paul Vining, Animal Science and Forages Regional Extension Agent.

A defined calving season refers to the number of days cows will be having calves. Ideally, Vining explained, this period will last about 60-90 days, which will allow all calves to be born around a similar time and grow and mature at similar rates. Having a uniform group of calves is crucial for marketing purposes, Vining added.

The purpose of the work Premier Angus Genetics does is to produce high quality cattle. Bulls produced by Premier Angus may be used for crossbreeding purposes by other producers to raise quality calves that will grow and perform well. Through embryo transfer, Premier Angus Genetics “flushes,” or removes the embryos from, a donor or “elite” cow and deposits them into a recipient cow.

“Flushing her will allow a cattle producer to receive multiple offspring from a single cow, thus allowing for more rapid genetic advancement of the breed,” Vining explained.

Artificial insemination is the practice of breeding cows “by hand” with a straw of semen collected from an elite bull.

“This allows beef producers to breed their cows to bulls they could not afford to personally own. The bulls can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Vining said.

Amanda Ergle, a sales representative for a company called Select Sires, spoke about genetic improvement via artificial insemination and ultrasounding cattle to identify carcass traits, such as the amount of intramuscular fat, or marbling, and the size of an animal’s ribeye.

“Marbling is an indicator of tenderness and quality of beef products. Carcass traits are easily inherited,” Vining said.

Other topics were also discussed, like winter feeding strategies, hay quality and the importance of proper hoof and leg structure for beef cattle, a discussion led by Vining; the feed and mineral program and products implemented at Premier Angus Genetics, addressed by Megan Abel; and the embryo transfer program at Premier Angus, explained by veterinarian Dr. Daryl Gray.

The group also went on a tour of the Premier Angus farm and had a meal that featured beef from
the Premier Angus cattle line.