***This article originally appeared in our Fall 2017 Ranch House Journal. Never miss another 5 Minutes With column, subscribe to the magazine here.***
By Tara Ortiz
Dan Dorn is an outstanding leader in the beef industry, he’s also the General Manager of Powerline Genetics. Located in Arapahoe, Nebraska, Powerline Genetics is a beef genetics operation with one mission: to identify, develop and drive genetic value in beef cattle. We were so excited to chat with Mr. Dorn about what’s happening in the beef industry and at Powerline Genetics.
Powerline uses a lot of data in their decision making. Why do you think this is important?
Data and the information we derive from it is the only way we will keep our customers in business for the long haul. As the cattle business has evolved over the years, we have relied on implants, antibiotics and Optaflexx to help us with beef production. Today’s consumers are wanting a story without the cover-up, so genetics is the only way we can remain efficient and produce a good product. Good genetics come from the use of multiple sets of data.
What do you think of the new Single Step expected progeny differences (EPD) from the Angus Association?
Single Step incorporates the newest methodologies and science available. It will ultimately re-rank some bulls, but any changes to evaluation methods have always done this. In the long term, utilizing DNA in our evaluations will give us the most complete information which will help us make more progress. How we utilize those EPDs and account for them in our selection decisions is up to us, but having the best tools available to help with those decisions is a great thing.
You market thousands of bulls nationwide. In your opinion, what makes a good bull?
I think bulls need to be sound, docile, deep and thick with the genetic package backing the phenotype so that our customers will have feeder cattle that are efficient in the feedyard and a big carcass that is useful to the end user. We try not to force a round peg into a square hole when we look at the different environments across the nation, so we mostly shift ages and breed percentages of bulls when we go to different parts of the country.
Going into the fall, what are you most looking forward to at Powerline?
It’s a new season with a new start. Bull sales last season were tough; the cattle market stumbled and reflected on all of us seedstock producers. Now that it’s stabilized, I’m excited for producers to see that we are starting to differentiate our bulls from the competition.
Prior to working at Powerline, you were in the cattle feeding business. What were some of the differences you had to adjust to when moving to the seedstock sector?
I have always had a passion for genetic improvement. Throughout my entire career in the feeding business, we worked with progressive seedstock producers and their customers, managing individual animals and combing over a lot of data. All-in-all, it wasn’t a big change, and I have really enjoyed my position at Powerline, a business entity of ABS Global Inc.