Eugene and Colleen Knop of Ida Grove are winners of the Iowa Outstanding Seedstock Producer Award for 2014. Knop Angus Farms, which Gene and three brothers established in the 1940s, from the beginning built the farm’s breeding program on the goals established by their father, Fred Knop. “He set the tone that built the Knop “Performance Plus” breeding program into an Angus dynasty,” Gene said.
There are 50 cows in the seedstock breeding herd now managed by their son, Dan Knop. Since Gene has been keeping data on the herd for more than 70 years, Dan has extensive information on which to base breeding decisions and to offer to the farm’s customers. They sell 75% of their seedstock through private treaty, and the rest through breed association sales.
While the majority of their calves are winter and fall calves, they also include some spring calving in order to provide seedstock year-round. Artificial insemination is used for most of their breeding program, although embryo transfer is used with some select donor cows.
Seedstock from the farm has been branded “Performance Plus.” Bulls must excel in calving ease and have high 205-365 day performance, and be produced from dams that have consistently high performance ratios. Performance data, as well as visual appraisal, are important when selecting females, too. “Potential replacement heifers must ratio 100 and above before any visual appraisal is used,” Gene said.
However, Knop Angus Farms does keep the show ring in mind as they frame score their cattle. “A sire must be accepted by commercial cattlemen before we have an interest,” said Gene. “But we use the show ring, not for ribbons, but for the opportunity to have potential customers view our cattle.” Knop said his buyers prefer a high 6 to low 7 frame bulls and females. “A frame score of 5 is not acceptable,” he said.
Clear goals, with the ever-pressing need to improve, have allowed the Knops to step up and achieve their goals. “
In the 1970s, our goal was to wean 700-lb. calves, and we did,” Gene said. In the last two decades, they bumped the goal to 900-lb. calves “and we are getting it done. Customer acceptance of our kind of cattle gets stronger every year.”In the 1970s, the farm added Jetliner 707 of Conanga to its herd. “Jetliner was the bull my father always dreamed of owning. He had a true performance pedigree,” Gene said. Jetliner set many records in his lifetime including: Jr. Champion Bull at the 1974 International Livestock show in Chicago, IL, reference sire for the Angus Association National Sire Evaluation Program, candidate for the 1976 Sire of the Year, ten times a Champion or Reserve Champion at major shows.
Jetliner EPDs are still impacting breeding stock that will be at this year’s Iowa Beef Expo, Gene said. “Although the genetics are 40 years old, they will still be competitive at the Expo.”
The Knops continue to add new seedstock to their herd, keeping the focus on high performance. Other lines that reflect their Performance Plus are KAF Country 650, SAV First Class, and Knop Discovery 530.
Besides the focus on continued improvement, Gene says the operation has also kept the business a family adventure, just as it was from day one.