Entrepreneurship Panel
Tom Field (at podium) moderated (from left) Charles "Chuck" Backus, Terry Beller, Tom Brink and Joe Mayer at the Angus University panel discussion on entrepreneurship in the cattle business.

Entrepreneurship in the Cattle Business

Panel of cattlemen share why Angus is their breed of choice in entrepreneurial endeavors.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 5, 2014) — “We used to raise straight Herefords for 100 years at our ranch, but when the grid started paying for quality carcasses, we were paid the most with Angus,” Joe Mayer of Mayer Ranch, Guymon, Okla., told attendees of the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show in Kansas City, Mo.

He was part of an entrepreneurship in the cattle business panel in Angus University, joined by Terry Beller, manager of Beller Feedlot in Lindsay, Neb.; Charles “Chuck” Backus, Quarter Circle U Ranch east of Phoenix, Ariz.; Tom Brink, founder and owner of Top Dollar Angus Inc. Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, moderated the panel.

Quality was a common theme of panelists reasons to use Angus in their various endeavors. Beller said, “We can be rewarded for quality cattle, so our feedlot is mostly black now.”

Herd expansion is a hot topic with high market prices and more moisture. Backus opined that feed conversion efficiency will play a large role in selecting cattle with which to expand the herd. It can increase the capacity for carrying cattle on less land — an issue integral to the harsh conditions of Arizona.

Brink recommended taking calculated risks. Risk is inherent in the beef industry, but make potential failures as small as possible so it is manageable.

“You will fail a percentage of the time, but you have to get back up and keep going,” he said.

Mayer agreed and added that sometimes the biggest risk is not taking a risk. His operation will try almost any new technology at least once. If it works, he said, they will use it full bore. If it doesn’t, they can scale its use back and try something different.

Beller emphasized communication and lifelong learning being a key to entrepreneurial success. As a cattle feeder, he said, he is in constant communication with the ranchers who feed with him. That network helps each other ask questions and move forward together. He recommended having an open mind and said that, often, he uses his “own” time at night to learn about new issues.

Mayer added that, as a commercial producer, a network of “people on the move” garners new ideas. He said he shares ideas with his seedstock provider and other movers and shakers.

Often, those in the beef industry are too transactional, Brink said. “We need to develop those long-term partnerships in the big picture.”

The panel was confident that demand for quality beef will continue to grow in the next 10 years. Mayer concluded, “Angus has been innovative, and if it continues to be, it will still be at the top of the heap. Our future is in our own hands.”

The panel presented Wednesday, Nov. 5, during the Angus University program featuring "A Story of A Steak." This extension of the award-winning series of articles in High Plains Journal and segments on The Angus Report was sponsored with support of Merck Animal Health. For more information about the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show, visit www.angusconvention.com.


Editor's Note: This article was written by staff or for the Angus Journal®. It is available for reprint upon request to editor Shauna Hermel. Photos are available upon request.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers. For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit www.angus.org.