by Steven E Smith
“Genomics provided valuable information but I stress the need to still look at cattle. Let’s focus on our strengths as the largest beef breed and always listen to the concerns of our commercial customers so we can continue the progress and success of the Angus Breed,” said Phil Trowbridge of Ghent, NY, who is the current national president of the American Angus Association.
While addressing the visitors to Trowbridge Angus during the National Angus Tour, Trowbridge emphasized his philosophy on breeding and marketing Angus cattle. Trowbridge highlighted the importance of sound working cattle that have high market performance with desirable foot and leg confirmation. Trowbridge recognizes genomics as a tool especially to assist with the detection and management of genetic progress in this endeavor.
“Be committed to customer service,” encouraged Trowbridge. “Always be ready to stand behind the soundness of our registered cattle as an entire association.” His goal is to take this emphasis a step further by working with his customers to assist them in subsequent marketing of offspring from Trowbridge seedstock. Trowbridge Angus markets 80 breeding bulls and 60 replacement females annually. This commitment to marketing is exhibited in the popular Trowbridge Bull Sales, Trowbridge Customer Preconditioned Feeder Calf Sale and other opportunities. The Trowbridge Annual Female Production Sale was held Aug. 29 as part of the National Angus Tour featured 99 lots of live cattle and embryos from the Trowbridge Farms as well as 20 other breeders from New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
The middle child of nine children, Phil Trowbridge grew up working with Angus cattle. Trowbridge has ascended to national prominence with the distinction of being only one of three breeders from New York to serve as the Angus breeder’s national president.
Throughout the tour, Angus breeders shared many special memories about the breed. In presidential fashion, Trowbridge captivated his audience with some of his fondest memories. Trowbridge indicated that he is grateful to have such a supportive wife. He explained how he convinced his new bride to take what would turn out to be more than a slightly exaggerated “short detour” during their honeymoon. Besides having to sleep on the floor of a friend’s apartment, the newlyweds yielded his employer, Gallagher Farms the chance to purchase an interest in the bull Sayre Patriot. According to Tom Burke’s New York – the Mother Church of Angus History, Patriot went on the sire three Grand Champion females of the Western National Stock Show in Denver as becoming on the all-time high semen sales bulls in the Angus breed. “Best of all, my wife Annie stayed with me.”
“Family is tops for me.” Today Trowbridge works with his son PJ to manage their cattle and produce the 1600 tons of corn for silage and haylage in addition to the hay needs. As part of the management program, the Trowbridge’s measure the developing breeding bulls by weighing them every 30 days. In mentioning this with a smile, Trowbridge recalled a time while his son PJ, then in high school brought to attention a few trouble cows. Phil recalled that he made mention to PJ that he should be able to deal with it. When working cattle some two weeks later, Phil realized that PJ had in fact dealt with the situation as he had been told to. “PJ had solved the problem; he took all 16 head to cattle sale barn. In the end it was good. “As breeders, we need to strive for sound confirmation and good disposition. And we need to find other individuals who aren’t working out, we need to deal with them. That’s what I’m talking about,” Trowbridge pointed out.
As guests of Eastern New York, visitors were quick to ask how cold and how much snow Trowbridge and his neighbors receive each winter. “Two years ago we had three Saturdays in a row with 20 inches of snow each storm. So we deal with snow but it is manageable and it gets cold but our cattle are raised outside. And with extreme heat and humidity common for only a few weeks a year, the cool nights of spring and fall make this a nice place to raise cattle indicated Trowbridge. Our meadows include well drained soils with rolling hills and woodland borders provide many spots for nature cover. Trowbridge aded that asphalt pads used as concentrated feeding areas. These areas are scraped and manure is applied to crop and pasture grounds. “Once or twice a week for 18 years now, we have scraped that pad and it is working great.”
Trowbridge uses eight large pastures which are not intensively rotated due to limited labor. Each pasture has natural water but through work with the NRCS, the farm has installed additional cattle fencing and ramps for limited cattle access to waterway for the preservation of waterways and water quality.
At the start of the National Angus Conference, Trowbridge had started the day with a welcome to the more than 200 guests from over half the states in the union. During that opening talk, Trowbridge told a quick story about a friend recently gave him suspenders with his “T” brand. He told the audience how it reminds him of the kind of support that the Angus Association is for its’ breeder members. “We are here for you, if you have questions, needs for assistance or any concerns” Trowbridge encouraged the members to “use their Association.” By the conclusion of the event, guests of New York State saw the commitment and enthusiasm shared by Trowbridge and fellow breeders of Angus here.
by Steven E Smith