8 OBSERVATIONS FROM DENVER 2015…Blog Post from Rachel Cutrer

We were were excited to read Rachel Cutrer’s, owner of Ranch House Designs, post about her 8 observations from Denver 2015. We are humbled to be mentioned along with all of the other great companies that help make this livestock industry what it is.

As I sat on the plane on my way home from a whirlwind trip to the National Western this past weekend in Denver, I couldn’t help but focus on a few observations.  This marks my 27th year to attend the Denver stock show, and 13th year to work on banners or other projects for clients who are displaying in the yards. After being at the show for only a day or two, I am confident that the industry is at one of it’s highest levels of success. Record crowds, record prices, and high quality livestock indicate the evidence that people enjoy being in the livestock business, and that the future is extremely bright for those of us who are breeders, exhibitors, or supporters of the livestock program. Here are a few of the things I noticed….

1. Focus on FAMILY is increasing…especially in the club calf segment. 

Family involvement has always been important in the livestock business, especially in farms and ranches who typically exhibit “on the hill”. However, I noticed a huge sense of family involvement “in the yards” this year, and especially in the club calf displays – which is something new. I think this trend is due to the fact that so many young people are involved in the business now, and it’s just natural that their children will be involved right beside them.  I believe this trend goes right in stride with mainstream media techniques to show your customer that you’re a “real person” with a real life — and that you’re easily approachable. My two favorite examples of this trend were the adorable little Matilyn Lautner of Matt Lautner Cattle and the handsome Leo Brothers of James Bright & Leo Brothers Show Cattle. Matilyn – who’s 3 years old – is clearly a big part of the family business as shown by the way those bulls know her and let her lead them around like a puppy dog. Families are the backbone of the livestock industry and it is exciting to see that being welcomed with open arms. The Leo boys weren’t able to attend this year, but their mom and dad’s display bull banner featured the two young boys on the farm. It was a welcome sight to see these youngsters obviously enjoying their life on the ranch.

Matilyn-LautnerPhoto Credit: Matt Lautner Cattle Facebook 

2. If you’re going to display animals in the yards, professionally designed banners are a must. 

IMG_0083have been designing banners for 13 years, and each year the quality of the banners and promotional efforts done by breeders and design firms continues to excel. We forgot to put our logo on all the banners we did this year (yikes!) but when I walked through the yards I couldn’t help but be proud to see all of our work on display. As you walk by pen after pen, you are continually blown away by the creativity that breeders and designers keep cranking out. However, on the other hand, there were a few banners I noticed that just simply didn’t cut it. If you’re going to spend the money on hauling a bull to Denver, buying a pen, getting him washed, clipped and blown out every day — the least you can do is get a professionally designed banner. It’s Denver people. You bring your A-Game.

3. A social media presence is also a requirement. 

While Ashley and I were in the car from the airport to the hotel, our driver said that stock show time used to be one of his biggest businesses for the year but that in the recent years he has seen his stock show clients decline. I wondered why – and I can’t help but think that the increase in social media and live online coverage of events has contributed to this. Of course there are those of us who will go to Denver every year no matter what – but thanks to the excellence in event coverage through Facebook, videos, online streaming of the show, and even Instagram and Snapchat – you can almost experience the show without having to be there. If you’re looking for Denver coverage, be sure to check out #NWSS2015 for great coverage from the Denver team.

4. Bull names are getting a lot cleaner. 

I’m not sure if “cleaner” is the word – but names are definitely getting a lot more wholesome than in the past. I attribute this trend to go back to #1 – the focus on families. Typically, you can count on lots of club calf bulls to have names generated around sexual themes, alcoholic themes, or guns and violence. This year, we saw names like “Goldie Locks” – inspired by a children’s book; “Heisman” – a powerfully motivating sports theme, “Man Among Thieves” – implying someone who stands with integrity above others in the crowd, and many more.

5. Businesses’ completely step up their marketing and promotional efforts “In The Yards”. 

I am continually amazed at the creativity and professionalism of many of the livestock industry businesses. A few of my favorites….The Showtimes Magazine – Outstanding in all aspects! The Reid Family continues to excel in creative designs, top notch video coverage, and awesome give-a-ways. Their social media coverage of the event is perfect. And their partnership with Cover-All Signs makes it so easy for producers to have great banners printed at an affordable price and convenient delivery. Sullivan Supply once again rocked it with a great display in the yards and phenomenal event coverage through The Pulse. Their red carpet photo backdrop was a smashing success…I even got a photo with their owner and founder John Sullivan. I thought it was awesome how John was just hanging out at their booth all day visiting with customers. That is a business focused on their customer! And finally, Sure Champ. Their Golden Ticket social media game was a totally fresh idea that has never been done at Denver. Their booth is always warm, friendly and welcoming. I constantly applaud their efforts.

6. The display bulls seemed to be a bit small. 

The only observation I noticed that slightly scared me was the frame size on the club calf display bulls. I certainly realize the trend is for moderation in show steers, but this year seemed to be the smallest set of cattle I have seen in a while, which somewhat worries me. Many of the bulls weren’t even to my waist. We had a bull last year that won champion in the ShorthornPlus show, and we put him out on Brahman cows this summer. Unfortunately the poor guy broke his back “in the act” and died. I worry that we might be going a little too far on the small side when bulls can’t do their jobs. I also worry about daughters of these small bulls — and the challenge to continually find smaller calving ease bulls that these heifers can be bred to. As numbers in the beef industry shrink, real beef producers and packers are looking for cattle that can stay healthy, gain efficiently, and pack on more pounds of muscle per head. Here is a great article from BEEF magazine regarding carcass size. Don’t get me wrong, I thought this year’s set of bulls was extremely impressive — one of the best sets I have seen in recent years. I just worry they might be on the verge of getting too small.

7. Stock show people love Texas de Brazil. 

Good luck getting a table here if you arrive after 7:00 p.m. We have always made Texas de Brazil a Denver tradition but this year it was packed! It’s like a stock show reunion in that restaurant. Turn over the green chip please!

8. Erin Dorsey is a show show managing maniac!  

I truly do not know how this superwoman does what she does. Erin has been a friend of mine for more than 20 years, and I’ve always known that she can handle anything. There is not a more perfect person for the job of managing the livestock side of the National Western. This lady and her very talented team successfully orchestrates, manages, and implements one of the greatest livestock shows in the world. I really enjoy the Houston Livestock Show, but when it comes to a show that is 100% focused on the cattleman and the exhibitor — Denver stands alone. I, along with the rest of the cattle business, owe the NWSS staff a huge thank you for keeping the western tradition alive and creating the venue where cattleman from North American congregate to see “The best of the best!” Thank you Denver!

So what did you think? 

Did you go to Denver this year? What were your observations?