AWA Friday Newsletter - October 8, 2021

AWA Friday Newsletter - October 8, 2021 To receive our weekly newsletter in your inbox, contact the AWA office and request to be added to our email list.


Temple Grandin: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
By Burt Rutherford

Wagyu breeders packed the house to hear the guru of animal handling share her experiences.

Looking back is helpful. Looking forward is essential. Temple Grandin did both during the American Wagyu Association’s 2021 Annual Convention in Fort Collins, Colo.

Looking back over 50 years as an animal welfare educator, advocate and innovator, Grandin shared with Wagyu breeders some of the things she learned. “Very early in my career, I made the mistake that most engineers make, thinking engineering will replace management. I thought I could build self-managing cattle handling facilities.” 

While the idea had merit, it just didn’t work. She learned that while equipment and how it works is important, it’s the people side of the equation that’s critical. “(Equipment) makes handling a lot easier. (But) equipment doesn’t replace management.”

She also learned in her work with packing plants that if the boss doesn’t buy into a new idea, all the new, innovative equipment in the world won’t change things. “I started out just doing equipment,” she told the 250 Wagyu breeders in attendance. “Then I started training people. Then I had managers un-train them for me. Then I’d train the feedlot manager.”

However, when she trained the buyers is when things really began to improve. Ultimately, it’s the customer of a product, any product, with dollars to spend who has the leverage to initiate innovation.

Beyond that, Grandin learned that when introducing new ideas and new ways of doing the same job better, simpler is key. Again, referring to her extensive work with packing companies, she told Wagyu breeders, “The thing that really changed the handling was I developed a very simple way to assess handling, with a very, very simple scoring system.”

Emphasizing the people side of the cattle business, Grandin told Wagyu breeders that all the technology you can buy won’t replace actually looking at your cattle. Using cattle lameness as an example, she said not paying attention to things like leg conformation will slowly but surely sneak up and bite you from behind.

“There’s still a place to visually look at animals to make sure we’re not breeding a problem.” She looks at genetic selection like a country’s economy and how government divvies it up. “If I put the entire economy into production, that would be milk in the dairy cow and meat in a beef animal, then I’m going to shortchange my infrastructure.”

For example, she said dairy cows now are very hard to breed and leg conformation has gotten worse. “And you might also compromise your military, which is the immune function.”

All of those take energy for an animal to be successful. “It takes energy to grow good bones. It takes energy to support a military to fight disease off. You can’t change that. On a lot of things, you’ve got to start looking at what’s optimal,” she told Wagyu breeders.

“There’s a place for EPDs. I’m not saying don’t use them. But there’s also a place for visual appraisal. I’m concerned that if you just blindly follow stuff on a spreadsheet, you could end up with some kind of problem.”

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, Grandin told Wagyu breeders that grazing animals will be part of the future. That’s because of the large amount of land that’s only suitable for animal production. And as weather patterns change and dryland becomes drier, she expects marginal cropland will be returned to pasture, creating an even larger land base for livestock production.

“The other thing I’ve found, I don’t care if it’s the cattle industry or the electronics industry, little guys innovate.” That puts Wagyu breeders and Wagyu cattle as a growing, increasingly popular breed in America, in a good position. “You’re in a position to innovate.”

But she cautioned Wagyu breeders to be thoughtful and to adopt new ideas and technologies slowly. “The other thing is, let’s not make mistakes. When we implement new things, we want to make sure we do it right.” And get all the advice you can, particularly from local producers who are innovators.

Grandin believes that future success for beef producers will include more interaction between animals and cropland. “I’ve talked to a lot of people about cover crops. It’s super local,” she told Wagyu breeders. “What works in one place might be terrible somewhere else.” Again, she stressed to work your way into a new practice like cover crops slowly and determine what will work best on your land and with your management style.

Of the many lessons that COVID taught, Grandin said the beef business learned that big is fragile. It’s very efficient, but it can break easily. To overcome that, she believes the U.S. beef business needs a wider, more distributive model. “A distributive supply chain is more robust, less prone to breaking, but it will be more expensive, and it doesn’t matter what the product is.”

To that end, she told Wagyu breeders, “One of the things we need is smaller, inspected slaughterhouses.” From a purely economic standpoint, they’re less efficient and more costly to operate. But they’re more robust in the face of a Black Swan event like COVID-19.

Some Wagyu breeders have invested in small plants and many have developed their own farm-to-table marketing. “Now farm-to-table, when times are good, that supports your business. But when times are rough, then we have a resource that’s going to be really important,” she said.

“So, a high-end niche market like you’re going into, that’s something of value.” Indeed, Wagyu breeders who had developed their own vertically integrated marketing efforts saw that play out in spades during the pandemic.

Until more small plants come online, however, beef producers in a farm-to-table marketing chain will likely have to haul their cattle farther than they’d like. Grandin encouraged Wagyu breeders to remember basic animal handling and animal welfare practices. Don’t crowd too many animals into the alley or tub when loading and don’t crowd too many animals in the truck or trailer. Handle them gently and quietly to reduce stress.

What’s more, Grandin said not only can big packing plants and smaller operations exist side by side, but they can also complement each other. Fort Collins is home to a large Budweiser beer plant. It’s also home to a multitude of small craft breweries. There’s a place and a market for both and the products they produce, she said.

For more information about Wagyu, go to

Entries for North American International Livestock Show

Attached is the sign-up form for the Wagyu Show in Kentucky, North American Intentional Livestock Expo (NAILE).  This year our show will be on November 17, 2021 at the Broadbent Arena at the Louisville, Kentucky Exposition Center.

Also attached are the Wagyu pages from the premium book with the classes listed.  Deadline for registration is November 1, 2021.

Please fill out the entry form attached and send it in via email to as soon as possible.  If you have any questions at all please contact Martha at the office.  208-262-8100.

Parking fees and Exhibitor passes will be addressed in a later email.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Click Here to View Registration Form
Click Here to View Class Listings

Did You Know?
Breeding Inventories: Part 2 - Semen Inventories Continued

There are options that are listed under each semen record to either Adjust the Inventory, Mark as for Sale via Private Treaty, Record Use, or Record Sale.

To Edit/Adjust Inventory: Click the ‘Edit/Adjust’ option. The Semen Inventory Maintenance menu for this bull will appear in a new window, and you can edit the existing record (tank/canister ID, quantities) or add additional records. Click ‘Save Inventory’ to save your changes.

To Record Use:  Click the ‘Record Use’ option. The Semen Inventory Usage menu will appear in a new window. You will be prompted to enter the date used and registration number of the female that was AI’d. Click ‘Save Breeding Usage’. The female will now appear under Herd Mgmt: Breeding: AI Service with this breeding information.

To Mark for Sale: Click the ‘Private Treaty’ option. The Semen Inventory Maintenance menu will appear in a new window. You can mark the straws for sale or remove the straws from Sale Listing if previously marked for sale. Comments can be entered that will display to prospective buyers. Click ‘Update’ to save the sale status. If marked for sale, the listing will appear under the Marketplace feature in Digital Beef (link located at top center of page).

To Record Sale: Click the ‘Record Sale’ option. The Semen Inventory: Sale menu will appear in a new window. You will be prompted to enter quantity of straws sold to individual buyer, the buyer ID (enter the member number of buyer if an AWA member), and the date the straw was sold. Click ‘Transfer Semen to Buyer’ to transfer the entered inventory to the Semen Inventory of the buyer’s Digital Beef account.


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AWA Calendar
January 1, 2022 - Start of 2022 Membership Renewal
January 1, 2022 - Spring CAR Enrollment Starts
February 1, 2022 - Spring CAR enrollment fees Increase
April 1, 2022 – Annual Membership Renewal – Late Fees Apply
May 1, 2022 – Fall CAR Enrollment Starts

June 30, 2022 – Fall CAR Enrollment Deadline – Fees Increase July 1

Upcoming Industry Events/Livestock Shows
November 17, 2021 – NAILE – Wagyu Show – Louisville, KY
January 9, 2022 – NWSS – Wagyu Show – Denver, CO

February 1 – 3, 2022 – NCBA  Trade Show – Houston, TX
February 28 – March 20, 2022 – Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – Houston, TX

Upcoming Member Events
October 9, 2021 – - Domestic and International Frozen Genetics
Oct0ber 14, 2021 – Joseph Decuis Inaugural "Toast to a Wagyu Celebration" Sale, Roanoke, IN
October 23, 2021 – Vermont Wagyu Production Sale - At the Farm in Springfield, VT

November 6, 2021 – Texas Wagyu Association - Fall Harvest Event - Luling, Texas
January 8, 2022 – Mile High Wagyu Experience - Denver, CO
March 19, 2022 – Triangle B Ranch - 14th Annual Spring of Opportunities Sale - Stigler, OK
March 26, 2022 – A5 Wagyu Production Sale - Virginia
March 26, 2022 – The Top Shelf Collection - Genomic Marvels at their Finest - Luling, TX
April 9, 2022 – M6 Ranch Wagyu - Bull Battery Sale - Alvarado, Texas

April 23, 2022 – 13th Annual "The Steaks are High" Texas Wagyu Association Sale – Salado, TX
May 14, 2022 – Diamond T Ranch Production Sale - Jacksonville, TX
May 28, 2022 – Bar R Ranch Wagyu Production Sale - Pullman, WA
June 4, 2022 – Passion For Prime - Salina, Kansas

To post an upcoming event or to advertise your event with a live link, please contact the AWA Office.