Blog Archive November 2008

Freeze Branding

We just got done trying freeze branding for the first time yesterday using the freeze branding procedure that Evan Rayl wrote a year or so ago.  While at this point the biggest change from irons is the fact that you can't tell if you got it right, it went much easier than hot iron branding typically does for us.

Other than the obvious benefit of not having hot branding irons around our drought ridden pens the cattle seemed to prefer it as well.  With hot irons, fighting the cattle was a huge hassle.  They'd beller, jump, and generally do anything they could to get away.  With the freeze brands about 1/3 of the heifers jostled a bit 10-seconds into it but for the most part they were still as could be.  Don't discount the benefit of not having to smell burning flesh either.

How much did it cost?

  • ~$290 for the 0-9 branding irons + custom brand.  It took 2 1/2 weeks to ship
  • Dry ice was about $20
  • 99% alcohol was $12.50/gallon from a local ag supply company (you can't get that stuff most places)

We already had clippers available so that's another added expense that might come up.

Going to Denver as a Spectator

First, let me be clear that I have absolutely no clue what it takes to show cattle in Denver.  However, the past two years of visiting the National Western to do our videos has taught me just enough to pretend I know what I’m talking about when it comes to visiting Denver for the display bulls.


What days do I need to be there?


The clubby bulls are on display Friday, January 16th and Saturday, January 17th.  The bulls are typically put on display about 11 AM and taken back to their pens around the time of the big bull sales or dark.


How do I get there?


Colorado in January can be very rough driving.  Unless you are nearby and ready to drive, I recommend booking a flight with Frontier.  They’re based out of Denver and you can find direct flights from a large range of cities.  Frontier also has onboard television for those of you who are like me and get bored very easily.


It costs about $40 to get from the airport to most hotels via taxi or you can wait for the shuttle for most hotels.


While you do need to check with each hotel to make sure, every hotel anywhere near the National Western is going to have a shuttle to/from the grounds.  I wouldn’t even think about wasting money on a rental vehicle and battling with parking.  DO plan on getting in line for your hotel’s shuttle early, it can be a mad house.


Where do I stay?


I stay at and highly recommend the Aurora Embassy Suites.  It’s more expensive than most of the other hotels but comes with two very nice perks including free breakfast.  I’m not talking about continental breakfast either, they make omelets to order.  That’s a good $10/person value in itself.


The second perk is the real kicker… drinks.  Beer, whiskey, wine, whatever is free during the two-hour happy hour each night.  Depending on the group you travel with that could range in value from nothing to $50/person per day.


What do I do?


Walk around, ask the owners about the bulls, talk to people, attend all the sales, etc..  You’ve been to a stock show before, this is nothing more than a big one with a bunch of high dollar cattle.  You rarely get the chance to meet and talk to the owners of these types of bulls so take advantage of it.  Get plenty of rest, wear comfortable shoes, and stay on the grounds as long as your body will let you.

Whatever you do, just don’t walk in front of two guys wearing blue Carhartt jackets video taping bulls.


Cow Tax?

I must admit that I thought the e-mail blast from was a hoax the first time I read it.  The thing sounds like another government action that sounds insane until you hear the entire story but I've yet to see what "the rest of the story" is. 

Regardless, it's something everyone who takes the time to read this site should most certainly read...

Wyoming Farm Bureau Cow Tax Press Release

            “With the economy in bad shape and the possibility of a deep recession looming, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to levy new taxes—on cows and pigs,” American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Regulatory Relations Rick Krause told Wyoming Farm Bureau members at their annual meeting.  Krause spoke in Sheridan on Nov. 7.

            “This is no laughing matter,” Krause said.  “The cow tax and the pig tax are parts of a larger scheme by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”

            “Under the proposal, if a state charged the “presumptive minimum rate” from the EPA, the cow tax would be $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head for beef cattle and a little more than $20 per pig,” Krause explained.

            Krause explained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that a producer with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would emit more than 100 tons of carbon and be subject to the permitting requirements.  “These thresholds would impact 99 percent of dairy producers, over 90 percent of beef producers and 95 percent of hog producers in the United States,” Krause stated.

            According to Krause, the EPA has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in preparation to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  “The regulation of automobile emissions automatically initiates other provisions of the CAA,” Krause explained.  “One of those provisions requires permits from anyone who emits more than 100 tons of a regulated pollutant per year and there are millions of sources that emit more than 100 tons of carbon.”

            The Title V permits, that are essentially a cow and pig tax, are supposed to contain provisions designed to reduce or eliminate the emissions of the regulated pollutant.  “Cows and pigs methane emissions come from natural and biological processes,” Krause stated. 

CLICK HERE for a story on it from Beef Magazine.

Rate My Calf

When I was in college at Texas A&M, I had the privilege of working as a dispatcher for the bus system.  One night while surfing the Internet at work and generally just messing around waiting for the last shift to end, me and some co-workers visited "" (don't waste your time).  As a joke, we put another co-workers official Bus Operations picture up and sent the link to the rest of the trainers and dispatchers.  He came storming into dispatch for revenge no more than 10-minutes later and it turns out that based on our scores he was "hotter" than me.

Backfiring pranks aside, as always when visiting a non-ag website I thought, "You know I wish they had something like this for cattle".  Well....

We're launched a new section of that allows you to get anonymous reviews of calves, cows, bulls, etc.  It's called "Rate My Calf" and can be found from the link at the top of the site or by CLICKING HERE.  You don't need an account on the site to upload pictures or leave reviews.  It's all completely anonymous (yeah, I know, we'll see how that works) so don't be afraid to be honest.

As with most things Web 2.0, this will be a complete failure unless people use it so if you know anybody who would be interested in using it, please let them know.  I threw a few of our earlier calves up to get it started.

Some questions I got from the group of users I showed it to...

What's the point, I can do that on so-and-so forum?

I know I tend to either bite my tongue or sugar coat the truth when I see a calf on one of those sites that has some faults.  I made the mistake of being honest one time and regardless of what people say, they don't really want to hear extremely frank feedback.  More importantly, I'm afraid that other users will do the same when I try to get feedback on a calf.

This system allows you to leave feedback anonymously and get feedback on calves you want to know where you stand with.

Is this a contest?

No, not at all.

How do I upload a picture?

CLICK HERE for the page to submit a picture, it takes less than a minute.  You can leave a brief comment and/or the sire of the calf if you wish.  If not, just upload the picture.

Various Sale Reports

Camp Cooley

I stopped by the Camp Cooley Ranch sale on Thursday for the tail end of the Brangus females and the Charolais females.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that hurricane Ike really impacted their September calves because the two month old calves at the side of the Charolais pairs were lacking quite a bit.

There was one clubby type Charolais heifer that I stupidly bid to $2,900.  Luckily there was a guy who's friend told him she's a nice female and he out bid me at $3k.  I asked if he was going to go clubby or seedstock with her and he said he was just putting together a few cows for a place he bought. 


Other sales that have been added to the sire statistics...

Here's to Great Ag Teachers

Mr Kuretsch, the 40+ year ag teacher of Pleasanton High School passed away on Friday.  He was easily the most influential teacher I ever had but I don't pretend that's unique in any way.  I don't know of anybody who has had as large an impact on a community as he did through his decades of challenging pig headed high school students to push themselves further every day.

It's rare that you find a man as dedicated to one job as Mr. Kuretsch.  Like many people in Atascosa County, Mr. Kuretsch was not only my ag teacher but my father's as well.  It was a running joke that he was just a few years away from teaching the grand children of his former students and one of my largest disappointments is my son will never have the opportunity to learn from him.

Honestly, I don't know that I learned much about ag from him but I did learn more valuable lessons about the dedication it takes succeed in that old class room than anywhere else.  I pray everyone has the opportunity to have an ag teacher like him.

Gilbert E. Kuretsch

November Cattle Site Market Share Report

Full Report

  1. Cattle Today Sites 23.73% (2)
  2. 23.11% (1)
  3. 9.17% (5)
  4. 7.67%
  5. 6.91% (3)
  6. 5.68% (8)
  7. 4.81% 
  8. 3.32% (nr)
  9. 3.32% (nr)
  10. 3.30%

I don't have a record of the October report so I'm comparing this month to September.

Showsteers and EDJE both dropped as the Northern steer buying seasons have started to slow down.

The spike for was due to several things including a spike in search engine referals, traffic resulting from links from Steerplanet's bull bracket, and an increase in return visitors.  I assume the increase in return visitors is due to the regularity of blog updates which is something to learn from in increasing traffic to your own site.

This is the last time I'm including our site in the ranking.  I don't know why I never thought about it but that site wouldn't be in the ranking if we didn't own it.  It's not an informational type of site, just an online game.

Again, this information all comes from third party tools and is not collected by us.  The rankings should be looked at in tiers rather than just a ranking.  The top two spots are dominated by two sites, then there's a small group of 3-4 sites that tend to stay below them, another group below that, and then a tier that doesn't get enough traffic to register consistent information.

Camp Cooley "Dispersal"

My son is going to grow up thinking the only time dad comes along when we visit mom's side of the family is when there's a cattle sale he wants to watch in East Texas....and for the most part he'll be right.

In that tradition, I'm visiting the in-laws so I can go watch Bob Simpson spend insane amounts of XOM money on Brangus cows see if the Charolais females slip too low to pass up at Camp Cooley.

If you don't have in-laws to visit, you can watch the sale online at

Pharo Cattle Company

Pharo Cattle Company Sale Report

~343 bulls averaged just under $3,400.

If you've never taken advantage of the opporutnity to watch a Kit Pharo bull sale, do it next year, it's different to say the least.  If you don't know the story behind the way he raises and markets the bulls it looks like a traditional Angus breeder got their cull pen mixed up with the sale pen.  350 lb 205-day actual weaning weights are common.

However, Kit has quite a following that believes in the way he does things and the bulls must perform because he's able to keep that sale average up every year.

Breedersworld Fact Check

[Please see comment at the end of the post]

A couple weeks ago, Breedersworld put out a press release about a change in ownership of the site.  You can find the release here.

First, if that kind of a shift in ownership of something deserves a press release, there should have been about a dozen press releases from Oklahoma the weekend after Jirl Buck and Kris Black's sales.  The asking price for BW last Spring wasn't a well kept secret and it's safe to say they don't need to worry too much about any tax increases by Obama.

However, one thing in the press release caught my eye to run a fact check on...

Breeder's World is the number one visited site for the livestock industry...

Huh?  How can anybody make that claim?  The closest thing I've ever seen to an actual ranking is our monthly Cattle Site Market Share Report and we don't include Breedersworld because it's doesn't focus on Cattle.

IF WE DID include Breedersworld in the ranking, they would be just a touch below  That's no small accomplishment, has a brand name like virtually no other online.  However, that also puts them at about half the traffic of a site like Cattle Today and

Yes, again, I contacted them to find out what the basis for their claim was but as always, I didn't get a reply.**

I'm establishing this as "Jeff's Rule #1"...


The sites that are the best/top at anything (whether that be web design, features, or traffic) don't have to tell people they're the best.

**They did reply this morning after seeing this posted but didn't provide anything to back up their claims.  However, after a few e-mails it appears they actually do care about making sure their claims are true and will address that in future promotions.  That's quite a refreshing attitude and I must say I respect that quite a bit.

Online Auction Sites

Cattle production/dispersal/special sales scheduled in the next two months by the "major" online auction services...

  1. Liveauctions - 50
  2. DVAuction - 15
  3. EDJECast - 3
  4. Livecattlesales - 1

(Superior was not listed since they do not allow online bids)

Strange Blog Comments recently moved away from us to their third web developer in three years.  It was a project I took on at the encouragement of a colleague after I had just decided not to do any more client work.  However the TJLA is a great organization with tons of great data to turn into an interactive website.  Like this site, it was a bit of a labor of love, the new developer is getting more in comp advertising each month than I was willing to charge in a year.

When I realized the TJLA was considering moving this Summer I highly encouraged them to do it.  The new version is a great site with a much easier to understand navigation than the previous and I told EDJE that while assisting in the move.

One thing that did irk me was a blog by Tiffany Nickelson in which she listed numerous features that were “NEW & IMPROVED”.  The issue was that virtually none of them were new and many of them were not only not improved but actually had functionality removed from the previous version.  I was going to do a blog post on that but decided against it.  However, this comment left on my post about SEO last week changed that.

I would have to disagree with your comment on the Showbox website. It looks really sharp and is much easier to get around. It may be missing a few things but I don't think those things were actually needed….

It surprised me for a few reasons…

  1. The comment didn’t make a darn bit of sense.  I didn’t comment on the Showbox website at all in that post.  The only reference to The Showbox was that I saw the ads about SEO in them.
  2. I’ve never had a negative thing to say about the new version of  I've only commented on the comments from the blog and until now that was done via e-mail.
  3. The comment was left by a “Jeff Garrett” with a fake e-mail address.  While the Russian bots that spam my blog every day use fake e-mails, other than that, not a single person has ever used a fake e-mail to leave a comment.  I’ve contacted and had interesting conversations with most people that have left comments on this blog.
  4. There is only one person I DID contact about the new version of, Tiffany Nickelson, the woman who authored the blog I mentioned above.  The comment in question was left at 9:30AM the morning after I had e-mailed her to ask what features were “NEW & IMPROVED”

It’s not hard to put 1, 2, 3, and 4 together to figure out who "Jeff Garrett" is.

I promise I'm not trying to pick on EDJE.  I just make a habit of calling B.S. when I see and it tends to come from some places more often than others.

Sire Price Report

We've modified the sire price report to account for the fact that bull's averages are naturally brought back to 100.00 as they have more offspring in the report.  We've also removed bulls with less than 10 offspring from the ranking although all offspring are included in the calculation.

Out of all the things on, the one thing I get the most "how can that be right?" questions on is the sire pirce report.  You can find it by clicking that link or going to AI Sire > Sire Price Report.

The sire price report takes sale results over the past five years and compares the price each individual bull's offspring brought when compared to similar cattle in the sale.  For example, bred heifers are compared to bred heifers and bulls are compared to bulls.  The fact that we don't have much steer data brings bulls like Heat Wave down.

The sale results are gathered however we can get them.  Sometimes I'll watch a sale and write down every lot.  This weekend we recorded the prices of all of the sales on DVAuction.  Sometimes owners will post their lot by lot information and sometimes we get sale reports from other people who attended the sale.  At one time we attempted to contact owners to get sale reports after the sale.  Out of twenty attempts, we got absolutely zero reports.  Owners just don't like sending that information.

If you have a sale you'd like for us to include in the market reports and sire price report, we encourage you to send it to


While reading the last issue of The Showbox I ran across one of the new EDJE ads about search engines.  It said “Search engines got you down?  We’ll get you to the top”.  GREAT, somebody is offering SEO services, something I know quite a few people could use.


Last Monday I e-mailed them directly to ask what kind of SEO services they provide and never got a response so I figured I’d do a little research on how well their own site ranks in the search engines.




I picked half a dozen terms related to what EDJE does that also get at least 10 searches based on Wordtracker data.  The terms selected and their relative search volume were…


  • “cattle for sale” – 56
  • “beef cattle” – 44
  • “club calves” – 35
  • “show steers” – 34
  • “beef cattle for sale” – 20
  • “show cattle” – 17

I left out the term “cattle” because it has a search volume in the 600 range and would make the rest of the calculation meaningless (EDJE doesn't rank for "cattle" any way).  I also left out terms below 10 searches in the Wordtracker database.


I then went to Google, Yahoo, and MSN to see what sites rank in the top ten for each of the six terms listed above.  That data was used to give each site that ranked a score.  The recent Comscore data was used to assign a weight for each engine (.629 Google, .202 Yahoo, .085 MSN) and the rankings were weighted based on CTR for search engine results calculated by Cornell University.


I didn’t include any educational or government sites and counted all of the EDJE network sites into the same total (it actually gave them an advantage).




Here are the results…


  1. Cattle Today – 20.67
  2. – 20.19
  3. – 14.88
  4. – 10.02
  5. – 7.06
  6. EDJE Network of Sites – 4.38
  7. – 3.78
  8. – 1.09
  9. Cattle Mail USA – .89
  10. - .88 

Take those results for what they’re worth but there’s only one of those sites advertising their ability to “get you to the top” and it’s not in the top five.  Cattle Today would be higher if the scope weren't kept to show cattle but if I did widen the scope of it, sites such as and would be in the top five as well.

I don't recall any more than 1-2 ranches that I've ever looked up that didn't rank in the top five spots on Google for any search for their ranch name or owner name and city and that's what you really need to rank for.  The generic terms such as those listed above are where the big boys play and it's most certainly not something to farm out to a company that doesn't even use a robots.txt file or proper 301 redirection.

I have used and always recommend PPC programs such as Adwords for marketing cattle via search engines.  I'll do a post with tips on how to use those types of programs sometime in the next week.

TUSA Show Cattle

Located in Reagan, TX...

Call 979-324-9326 or 254-587-2077 for this and more steers like him.

November 1st Sale Reports

Walnut Springs Farm & Perks Ranch Sale Report


~55 lots of Red Angus cattle topped by a $12,500 bred heifer sired by Red Fine Line Mulberry 26P.


Sale reports from this weekend...


Yon Family Farms


~180 lots of Angus and composite females/bulls.  Bulls averaged just over $2,150 and the rest of the females hovered around $2,000.  The bull sale was topped by a $5,500 Woodhill Foresight 2yo.


Ty Bar Ranch


~110 lots of Angus cattle topped by a $4,100 Boyd New Day 8005 bred heifer.  The rest of the cattle averaged around $1,625.

"The List"

American Angus Association's Update on Arthrogryposis Multiplex in Cattle

I just called the American Angus Association and this does not start the 60-day window referenced in the guidelines posted in October.  That 60-day window to breed carrier AI bulls will not start until they have a definitive test.  In other words, your Future Direction semen still has a few more months before it depreciates faster than my IRA.

Of the 734 bulls listed by the AAA, there are 62 carriers (8.45%).  There are 54 G A R bulls listed, 12 of which are carriers (22.22%).

I'm not the the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to Angus genetics but 5321 seems to be the only huge name on the list other than 1680.  I'd say that overall the list is a positive for the AAA.

We are in the process of adding CCS status to each bull in our database right now.

C A Future Direction 5321 and Curly Calf

[While correct, this post was outdated within hours by the Angus Association's release of information]

ALL of this analysis assumes that CCS comes directly from G A R Precision 16800...

Based on the report from Accelerated Genetics, it's almost impossible to not come to the conclusion that C A Future Direction 5321 is a carrier for curly calf syndrome.  Of the seven listed bulls, three have only one connection to 1680 and it's through 5321.

The positive result of Circle S At Ease 4221 implies that Rito 1I2 of 2536 Rito 6I6 is also positive through his dam, the highly popular G A R Precision 2536 donor cow.  Efficiency NFI and Three Trees Lexington T0678 imply that RITO 2V1 OF 2536 1407  is a carrier through that female as well (which the positive test result confirms).  Again, that was bore out through the test results but only adds strength to the idea that 5321 is a carrier.

Curly Calf Syndrome Results

Accelerated Genetics has listed the CCS status of their bulls.  You can find the full list on their site at  Here are the carriers they have reported so far...