The Beefbooster company produces hybrid bulls for commercial ranchers. Colour is more important than breed in this part of the world. For example, the main criteria for achieving the equivalent Angus bonus is simply for the animal to be black. Progressive commercial ranchers recognise the benefits of crossbreeding and have no qualms about using a crossbred bull, provided he’ll do the business.

Beefbooster delivers this product. It sources only the best bulls from a small number of trusted, dedicated seedstock ranchers and rigorously test all aspects of their performance at Thorlaksen feedyard, near Calgary. From birth weight to semen testing, feed efficiency to structural soundness – Beefbooster uses the genetic data (all cattle are genotyped at birth), coupled with its own measurements, to produce a breeding index not unlike our own. Only the best go to the sale, around 30% of bought-in bulls don’t make it. Remember too, that only the top bulls from its source ranches make it to testing in the first place.

Four classes

Beefbooster sells four classes of bull. The M1 class is 80% Angus, 15% Devon (a British breed) – these were on sale the day we visited. Next are the M2, based on Hereford, Simmental and some Red Poll. For heifers, there is the M3 bull. He’s Longhorn/Jersey based and comes with a no c-section guarantee. The final M4 class is Limousin-based.

Beefbooster sales are unique. Prospective buyers must let the clerk know how many bulls they want to purchase prior to the sale. Just before it kicks off, a random order of buyers’ names is generated. The first name up has the pick of the bulls in the barn and everyone else must wait until their turn comes on the list subsequently. There is no bidding – all bulls are pre-priced based on their class. A buyer simply selects his bull from what remains in the barn and the animal is removed from the pen.

Faith in the index

Roman Hrytsak was the man in charge on the day, calling on each buyer as their turn came up and directing the cattle hands as to which animals needed removing. Talking with him and the buyers, there were differing views on selection. Given the uniformity of the stock, many placed their full faith in Beefbooster’s index as a selection tool. Indeed, first pick Clay Chattaway selected the highest index bull without a second thought. However, others examined the animals closer and took into account visuals too. It’s worth noting that the animal’s own actual docility and structural soundness had been accounted for in the Beefbooster index.

One such rancher who focused on visuals was Travis Redel, who had travelled 150 miles from British Columbia with his wife, Connie, and their daughters. They were buying two bulls for their 300-cow, 2,000 acre ranch. Travis was assigned picks six and 11 on the day and in the video below he purchases an M1 bull and tells us why he was happy with his choice.

Having talked to most of the attendees, the message around the unorthodox selling method was clear. These bulls had to jump through hoops to even make sale day – be it the first or last pick, Beefbooster’s drive for quality and consistency meant that you were taking home a serious animal regardless.

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