ABBA International Brahman Performance Summit

The ABBA International Brahman Performance Summit was held May 5, 2017 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas. The summit was a group effort by the ABBA Research and Breed Improvement (Performance) and the International Committees.
Key international leaders representing countries throughout Latin America traveled to meet with ABBA representatives to collaborate and gain insight to the international perspective of the ABBA’s current and purposed performance programs and initiatives.
The panel of international producers provided a unique opportunity to listen to international customers to determine whether any further research could or should be conducted to ensure the ABBA offers the selection tools (EPDs, Production Indices, etc.) useful to their respective operations.
The meeting was conducted in a casual discussion format around a rectangular conference table. Jim-Bob Trant, chairman of Research and Breed Improvement Committee, lead the discussion. The international delegates along with the Performance and International Committee members sat at the table in front of a captive audience consisting of other ABBA Board members and special guests sitting in folding chairs around the perimeter of the room.
The meeting began with Trant introducing the President of ABBA, George Kempfer, and the association leadership in attendance as well as Texas A&M staff, Dr. Charles R. Long, Professor and Resident Director of Research and Dr. Ron Randel, Professor Reproductive Physiology and Senior Faculty Fellow participated in the meeting. Also in attendance were Dr. Robert Whitson, Professor Emeritus and Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor and Dr. Cliff Lamb, Head of Department of Animal Science.
ABBA Recording Secretary Armelinda Ibarra introduced the international panelists and gave a brief summary of their roles and contributions to the Brahman world. International panelists included Dr. Atilio Atencio of Venezuela, Fernando Llano of Paraguay, Fernando Pinto of Costa Rica, Rodolfo Moreno of Panama, Dr. Cesar Villegas of Mexico, and ABBA International Directors Rodolfo Garcia Pacheco and Gerardo Perez of Guatemala who were instrumental with translations.
Research and Breed Improvement Committee member Steve Wilkins followed with a history of ABBA Performance Program, an overview of ABBA’s Carcass Evaluation Program, the Performance Bull Test and ongoing ABBA performance and research projects.
A lively discussion ensued with a special focus to understand the types of production systems utilized in each panelist’s respective country and what traits they deemed important when making management decisions.
Traits that were conveyed as a top priority for these producers included fertility (age of puberty, ability to rebreed as well as scrotal circumference), birth weight and weaning weight. Panelists said they consider and value the carcass EPDs; however, there is a concern about the difference in the way feeder cattle are finished with grain in the United States, while in other countries, most are truly grass-fed.
Discussion at one point turned to the difference between performance and show cattle. The international guests noted that in most cases these were two completely different types of animals. Ideas to align American Brahman show cattle with performance cattle were discussed.
Increasing EPD accuracies, developing a way to measure and give merit to cattle that produce beef in a forage-based system, developing an indicator of early fertility and better education of our performance system were all topics discussed by the panel.
In summary, just like many cattle producers in the United States, large Brahman and Brahman-influenced beef production programs in Latin America desire profitable genetics that can function with minimal inputs yet create a quality, marketable product to sell.
The panel discussion was followed by a tasty catfish lunch and a tour of the ongoing Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center programs.
Dr. Monte Rouquette – Professor of Forage Quality and Pasture Utilization, Dr. Gerald R. Smith – Professor of Forage Legume Breeding and Genetics, Dr. Vanessa Olson – Associate Professor Extension Forage Specialist and Dr. Ron Randal gave overviews of their ongoing work and research projects. Dr. David Riley – Professor of Animal Breeding and Dr. Tom Welsh – Professor of Physiology with Texas A&M in College Station, assisted with the tour and provided great insight and additional information on their Bos Indicus-focused research projects as well.