|By SARAH B. AUBREY
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Early spring is breeding time for beef cattle. Producers using artificial insemination (AI) services are scouring breed publications and semen distributor websites to select the bulls they’ll use to make next year’s calf crop.
Helping producers make that important choice in bulls is the goal of Ohio Beef Expo’s Genetic Pathway. Scheduled each year during the mid-March beef showcase, this year’s was March 17-19, the Genetic Pathway is a live bull display where interested buyers can walk through a display at the Ohio State Fairgrounds and visually appraise more than 20 bulls with genetics from Angus to Shorthorn, Maine Anjou to crossbred, as well as others. Heifers for sale are also on display.
While many spring expos focus on the junior show ring, the Genetic Pathway exhibit is the largest springtime live bull display in the Midwest.
A Saturday afternoon, standing-room-only crowd swarmed around bulls and sellers.
Genetic Pathway combines big-name semen and genetic distributors that disperse thousands of pre-sold units of semen each day, with small farms that display one bull they are trying to promote.
Mike Weidner, Maple Park, Ill., is in his seventh year attending the Genetic Pathway exhibit.
“We pick up a lot of business here and we’ve created a big following in Ohio,” said, Weidner, who owns Top Sires, a genetics company and national distributor of beef semen.
“We easily sell over 4,000 units of semen while we’re here,” he added.
Top Sires does not bring any live bulls, simply lots of tanks filled with available semen on his 100 or so top selling bulls. People literally line up to place and receive their orders.
“Buyers can save on shipping by brining their tanks and we give an expo discount.”
Dennis Ruffing and his wife, Diana, of Republic, Ohio, own a Genetic Pathway display bill named Mr. Obvious along with the bull’s breeders.
“This is the second bull that we’ve owned and promoted here,” Ruffing said. “We have good semen sales here with about 100 units sold out of the tank and we’ll probably sell another 1,000 units that people have spoken for.”
Diana noted that they have been satisfied with their Ohio Beef Expo experience.
She said the Ohio Beef Expo’s many live cattle sales are a big draw to encourage people to come in and view the bulls after each sale.
“About 20 percent of the people that come through the display bring their semen tanks, but most are just shopping,” she said. “This gives people a chance to look and see what’s out there.”
Weidner used advance marketing to let his customers know he’ll be at the Expo.
“We send out a mailer about two weeks ahead,” he explained. “It helps us sell as much as we can.”
Weidner said, of the five spring beef events that he attends, his best sales are at the Genetic Pathway.
Bulls are on display for three days each year, the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the expo.
This farm news was published in the March 29, 2006 issue of Farm World.