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Brockett Wins 1997 Virginia Commercial Producer Of The Year Award

Livestock Update, April 1997

Ike Eller, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

Bill Brockett, owner and manager of Virginia Beef Corporation at Haymarket, Virginia, received the 1997 Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year Award at the 1997 Virginia Cattle Industry Convention at Hot Springs, Virginia, February 21st. This award, presented by the Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association, was also a stepping stone for a national outstanding Commercial Producer of the Year Award presented in May be Beef Improvement Federation.

Virginia Beef Corporation was started in 1965 with Bill Brockett serving as manager and for the first few years, operated a commercial feed yard. Mr. Brockett later became owner of the corporation, changed it, enlarged it and diversified it, developing it into a large commercial farming operation. Today, the commercial cow herd numbers 3,500 and is made up of Angus and Angus Hereford cross cows. Brockett has, in the past few years, developed a very large embryo transfer service, utilizing the mature cow herd as recipients for embryos coming to him from a number of progressive seedstock operations. Virginia Beef Corporation grazes about 8,000 stockers a year and finished 15,000 to 20,000 cattle in western commercial feedlots annually. In addition, the operation raises between 8,000 and 10,000 acres of grain and 3,000 acres of commercial sod for the commercial turf market.

A sophisticated computer system is utilized to keep a very detailed set of financial and production records on each segment of the operation. All cows and calves are identified and individual production records are kept. Records on all segments of the operation allow for interfacing both production information with financial and tax records.

Virginia Beef Corporation uses a split calving season with spring calving occurring March 1 to May 1 and fall calving occurring September 1 to November 1. Replacement females are produced from the highest producing cows bred to Angus bulls, while cows not expected to produce replacement heifers are bred to Charolais bulls as a terminal cross. Artificial insemination is used extensively on heifers and prior to the current large embryo transfer project, all cows in the herd were inseminated by AI one time, using a synchronized program.

Marketing is one of Bill Brockett's strongest suits and, of course, the embryo transfer program is a marketing method which is in concert with the contracting seedstock breeders. Other calves from the commercial herd, including all steers and half of the heifers are fed for slaughter under a retained ownership program in a commercial feedlot. The balance of the heifers are retained for breeding. Stockers are offered for sale on a video auction with the right to no-sale if they can do better on a retained ownership program in a western feedlot.

Brockett says the most profitable improvements made in the management in the cow herd are a rather dramatic increase in feed efficiency in the feedlot. The make up of the cow herd has been changed from continental-British crosses to all British crosses as a move to greater herd efficiency.

Bill Brockett is an articulate spokesman and has been utilized on many state and out of state beef cattle educational programs. He has served on the Foreign Trade Commission of NCA and presently serves on the Property Rights/Environmental Management Committee of NCBA. He received in 1995, the Outstanding Conservation Farmer Award from the Loudoun Soil and Water District and in 1997, the Virginia Commercial Producer of the Year Award.

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