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Mike Goldwasser Named Virginia BCIA 2003 Outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year

Livestock Update, May 2003

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

Virginia BCIA is proud to present the 2003 Virginia Outstanding Commercial Producer Award to Mike Goldwasser of Hillsville, Virginia. The Goldwasser's have been farming in Carroll County for thirty years. The diversified operation includes cow-calf and stocker beef enterprises, which coupled with superior forage management and progressive marketing techniques form the backbone for success of the operation.

A cornerstone of the Goldwasser program has been retained ownership of the calf crop through harvest. This practice has enabled Mike to realize the full benefits of superior management and genetics. The cow herd consists of Continental (Gelbvieh, Simmental, Charolais) x Angus cross cows. Sire selection places heavy emphasis on carcass merit. Mostly Angus bulls have been used in recent years, with all sires ranking in the top 1/3 of their breed for yearling growth and all have been positive for marbling and ribeye area. Selection pressure for yearling growth has equated to improved feed efficiency and fewer days on feed for the calf crop. The target performance is a calf crop that grade 80% Choice while maintaining or improving rate and efficiency of growth. Genetic progress has seen the Goldwasser herd increase finished live weights by 100 pounds with less than a 2% increase in YG 4's. Close monitoring of genetic lines for carcass quality, and the use of systematic crossbreeding have been important aspects of achieving these goals.

With an extensive history of carcass data and feedyard information, along with a desire to add further value to his beef enterprise, Mike joined forces with four other like-minded cattlemen to create Blue Ridge Premium Beef. Blue Ridge Premium Beef, LLC markets a high quality, branded beef product and all cattle are bred, fed, and processed in Virginia. The branded beef product has been marketed direct and to retailers and restaurants since April, 2002. All cattle in the program are source-verified and fed without growth implants, carcasses tendercut and aged 21 days, and sold frozen in a cryovac package. Current efforts are focused on increasing the demand and visibility of the BRPB line, and to develop expanded markets particularly for non-steak cuts and products.

Mike has been practicing rotational and intensive grazing as well as positive conservation practices for more than 15 years. Mike has always understood the value of the superior forage available in Southwest Virginia. He is both a high management and low cost producer using his natural resources to the best of their ability. Pastures are subdivided into a series of paddocks for optimum utilization of forages, which minimizes the dependence on harvested feeds and increases grazing days. Cool season grasses are utilized extensively in the rotation, along with stockpiling. Carrying capacity records have been maintained and compared for the last 15 years. These records along with the number of feeding vs. grazing days and records on grass yield and rest periods between grazing rotations are used to monitor the system. The goal is to feed cows not more than 90 days. Grazing management is a key component to the approximately 500 stocker calves developed each year. The stocker pasture is hilly but by dividing it into paddocks, the quantity and quality of the forage is maximized. The paddocks also are valuable for herd health during times of purchasing stockers; as they allow smaller groups to be isolated. The stocker cattle are either sold in load lots, or fed retained ownership depending on market conditions.

Mike is past-president of the Virginia Cattlemen's Association, the Virginia Forage and Grasslands Council, the Southwest Agriculture Association, and the Dublin and Galax Feeder Cattle Associations. He has been recognized with the Virginia Governor's Model Clean Water Award.

Mike and his wife Marion have two daughters- Sarah and Ellen.

The Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association is pleased to present the 2003 Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year Award to Mike Goldwasser.

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