KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Despite drought and escalating costs in the beef industry, Hereford breed demand continues to increase as production sale averages increased $500 during fiscal year 2013.

Hereford breeders continue to experience a dramatic increase in production sale prices, and reports of private-treaty sales continue to outpace the previous-year reports.

A total of 171 Hereford production sales were reported by American Hereford Association field representatives this fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31. Sales averaged $4,763 for bulls, up nearly $92, and $4,202 for females, up almost $873 per head.

The second largest cattle breed in the U.S., Hereford reports 67,930 registrations and 35,957 transfers with 100,494 cows on inventory. The association has 3,507 active adult members and 2,490 active junior members.

“Hereford demand continues to climb as referenced by record sale prices for bulls and females during fiscal year 2013,” said Craig Huffhines, AHA executive vice president. “ AHA experienced a near 5-percent increase in membership, further evidence of the popularity in the Hereford breed.”

Hereford semen demand in the commercial industry also is increasing. According to the National Association of Animal Breeders, domestic Hereford semen sales increased 2 percent compared to last year and export sales increased 31 percent.

Since 2006, Hereford domestic semen sales have increased 90 percent, a testament to the increasing demand for Hereford genetics in the commercial industry.

Helping with this progress in the commercial sector has been the AHA’s Whole Herd Total Performance Records program. Now 12 years old, the program has helped the AHA and Hereford breeders build a database that documents the breed’s strengths.

More and more Hereford breeders continue to go above status quo and submit ultrasound data, body condition scores, udder scores and cow weights, which all add to the integrity and accuracy of the AHA database. Because of this commitment to data collection, a new udder quality EPD was released during fiscal year 2013.

This fiscal year, AHA continued to offer genomic-enhanced Expected Progeny Differences with updated correlations that more than doubled the predictive power for some traits.

The AHA’s approach was to work with the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium to develop a Hereford-specific panel, utilize GeneSeek Inc. to run the high-density panels and produce molecular breeding values to incorporate the genomic information, phenotypes and pedigree information into the national cattle evaluation to produce GE-EPDs.

“The AHA’s genomic approach utilizes new genotype platforms and computing techniques to boost the predictive accuracy of breeding value for younger animals,” Huffhines said. “The mission of the AHA has always been to document the pedigree and performance information of Hereford seedstock in order to create economic improvement for the commercial beef industry.

“This approach is very important to both the AHA and the commercial cattle industry in that it allows the AHA to continually improve the predictive value of EPDs so that both seedstock producers and commercial cattlemen can make more reliable breeding decisions with less risk.”

The association also has continued to focus its research on feed efficiency, as well as a multi-year project with Simplot Livestock Co. that is documenting the benefits of using Hereford sires in a large-scale, predominately Angus heifer program.

Also noted at the fiscal year’s end are top registrations by state and by breeder. Texas topped the list of registrations per state at 7,820 with Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma rounding out the top five.

The top five breeders by registration numbers were Rausch Herefords, Hoven, S.D., 945; Shaw Cattle Co. Inc., Caldwell, Idaho, 776; Upstream Ranch, Taylor, Neb., 451; Van Newkirk Herefords, Oshkosh, Neb., 443; and Alexander Mih, M-M Ranch Polled Herefords, Chanute, Kan., 394.