Brangus Breeders Participate in BIF Research Symposium

International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) members participated in the 2017 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention May 31 – June 2 in Athens, Georgia.

BIF’s annual convention brings industry professionals, producers and researchers together to discuss current issues facing the beef industry. Valuable industry discussion is facilitated at the convention, and it provides significant education on current issues effecting the beef industry. This tradition has carried on for almost 50 years. Several of the issues covered in past conventions have led to new research and research projects, thus advancing the beef industry.

“This [BIF Research Symposium and Convention] is the most important scientific meeting of the year that includes high-profile commercial cattlemen and cutting-edge seedstock producers,” IBBA Executive Vice President Tommy Perkins, PhD., PAS said.

A group of Brangus breeders, including members of IBBA’s board, IBBA committee chairmen, and IBBA committee members, attended this year’s symposium.

“The Brangus breed was very well represented in breakout sessions, which contained credible Brangus research discoveries, and a few distinguished members were nominated for prestigious awards,” Perkins stated. “It was impressive to witness the Brangus breed represented with quality breeders and leaders from the association.”

Vern Suhn and his wife, Vicki, were among the Seedstock Producer of the Year nominees. Suhn Cattle Company, of Eureka, Kansas, is ranked number 15 on BEEF Magazine’s 2017 BEEF Seedstock 100 list.

“It was again one of the highlights of my year to be able to attend the Beef Improvement Federation meetings in Athens, Georgia, this past week,” said Vern Suhn. “I have been especially encouraged the past few years and again this year with the emphasis placed by the Beef Improvement Federation on the use of heterosis and hybrid vigor in commercial breeding programs. Dr. Todd Thrift, from the University of Florida, did an excellent job with his topic, ‘Strategic Use of Heterosis,’ Dr. Justin Rhinehart on heifer development and longevity, and the panel discussion on ‘The Power of Index Selection’ from Dr. Bullock, Donnell Brown, and Larry Keenan were some of the best presentations I have heard in several years.”

Megehee Cattle Company, located in east-central Mississippi, was nominated for Commercial Producer of Year. The commercial cow-calf and stocker operation herd is heavily Brangus-influenced.

Kevin and Lydia Yon, of Ridge Spring, South Carolina, and Michelle Field Elmore, of Canton, Alabama, were awarded 2017 Continuing Service Awards. Yon Family Farms is a first-generation family ranch that markets several Ultrablack animals each year. A native of Shuqualak, Mississippi, Elmore was raised on a Brangus seedstock and commercial operation and represents the eighth generation of her family’s agricultural business.

“Each year, awards are presented in various categories, and Vicki and myself would like to thank the IBBA for nominating Suhn Cattle Company for the Seedstock Producer of the Year,” Suhn said. “Congratulations, also, to Robert and Margie Fields, of Calyx Star Ranch, as their daughter Michelle Elmore, was awarded the Continuing Service Award.”

Other prominent Brangus leaders and breeders who participated in the symposium included IBBA Board Member Bill Davis, IBBA Board Member and Breed Improvement Committee Chairman Chris Heptinstall, IBBA Breed Improvement Committee Members Dr. Randy Schmidt, Pete De Leeuw, Brad Wright, Joy Reznicek and Chuck Sword, IBBA Finance Committee Member Milton Sundeck, BIF Past-President Mark Cowan, IBBA Member Services and Education Committee Member Vince Roberts, and IBBA members Shawn Johnston, Ben Spitzer, Dr. John Spitzer, Norma Sword, and Garrett Thomas.

“There was certainly a wealth of knowledge presented [at the BIF convention],” said Heptinstall. “Brangus was certainly well represented from Dr. Perkins’s break-out session presentations to Vern Suhn’s nomination for Seedstock Producer of the Year to a host of Brangus breeders. I believe we almost had a quorum of breed improvement committee members represented. I certainly enjoyed my time spent at BIF this year. I believe many of the take-away messages will, or already are, being implemented in Brangus.”

“This was my first time to attend the BIF convention so I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Bill Davis. “I found the meetings very informative and well attended. I thought it was significant that our breed had a nomination for seedstock producer of the year, our executive vice president serves on the BIF Board, and especially the strong presence of Brangus breeders. It was a good experience; I plan on attending in the future.”

Perkins is serving his first term on the BIF Board of Directors. He led one of the breakout sessions during the symposium; he facilitated the “Advancements in End Product Improvement” session.

Among one of the breakout sessions where Brangus cattle were highlighted was a presentation given by Raluca Mateescu, PhD. entitled “Beef cattle climate adaptability: How can genomics help?” Mateescu is an associate professor of quantitative genetics and genomics in the University of Florida’s animal science department.

“[Mateescu’s] included Brangus cattle in her discussion and findings about how well Brangus carcasses yield,” said Perkins.

“The 2017 BIF Conference was one of the most dynamic conferences I’ve attended,” Reznicek said. “Every session had a purpose, a vision, and proof. It made us think beyond where most of us are in the cattle business. I applaud the science and research that’s coming from our land grant universities and private businesses. The beef industry has a very bright future.”

“I encourage registered and commercial Brangus breeders to become more involved in this organization as it endeavors to establish guidelines, and through technology and research, develop programs that will impact the future of the beef industry,” Suhn stated. “The past conferences attended would only see four to five Brangus enthusiasts in attendance, but this year we had about 17 in attendance. Next year’s conference will be in Colorado, and I encourage anyone to attend that is involved in beef production. The speakers are always dynamic, but it, also, affords you the opportunity to network with registered and commercial cattlemen that utilize other breeds and interact as to what is impacting and being incorporated into their operation.”

“Our breeders’ desire is to stay on the cutting edge and bring back what they have learned and apply it within the association to progress the breed,” Perkins stated. “The commitment of Brangus breeders to stay abreast of current beef industry trends was evident with their participation in this year’s BIF Research Symposium and Convention.”

The BIF was founded in 1968. The organization is dedicated to advancing and coordinating all segments of the beef industry. Continuing the tradition of using science to benefit beef producers, the organization is now the capstone for developing programs for improving the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of beef production. Cattlemen interested in this year’s program can visit for presentation summaries.

The International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, strives to provide the commercial cattle industry, domestically and internationally, with the best genetics possible. Founded in 1949 as the American Brangus Breeders, the organization has since evolved into the IBBA. The IBBA’s purpose is to enable its members to produce quality beef for the commercial cattle industry and its consumers. For more information about IBBA, visit