The animal’s specific performance records, heritable traits and lineage can be traced for improved selecting and breeding. A registration certificate has the potential to add value to the animal and its offspring.

Woolsey cassidy
Managing Editor / Ag Proud – Idaho
Cassidy is a contributing editor to Progressive Cattle and Progressive Forage magazines.

However, when looking at different operations and high cattle prices, does a registration paper make a difference in the value of the animal?

“Good cattle don’t become relatively worth less when cattle prices are high,” says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University extension livestock marketing specialist. “I have a lot of producers saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what cattle I have because prices are so high.’ But in this case it is important to think about it from a buyer’s view.”

When prices are high, cattle buyers run an enormous amount of risk. It is like buying a used car, Peel says. If car prices are high, the risk of purchasing a clunker is greater than if the buyer were to purchase a vehicle that someone has certified and guaranteed. It is reassuring to the buyer to have that added information.

Buyers can use the registration papers to aid in the decision whether to purchase the animal or not. The buyer can predict the performance and longevity of the animal by looking at the history of the sire and dam.


The value to having the registration information is significant right now because of the risk involved in the cattle business. Unhealthy animals and undesired traits cost money to any operation.

Joseph McKellar, owner and general manager of McKellar Angus says, “EPDs are crucial in everything we do. They provide us with a wealth of information to make decisions with.”

Registration papers

For nearly 55 years, the McKellar family has registered their cattle and has benefited from the knowledge presented. These records assist in their goal to provide the best-quality bull for the commercial cow-calf producer and the best-quality female for breeding operations.

Each year, the McKellars showcase their accomplishments acquired through years of selecting and breeding at their spring sale. They have been able to develop a seedstock market because of the registration papers they have.

Seedstock producers such as the McKellars can increase profitability and the performance of the animal with the information registration papers provide.

But when looking at a commercial operation with a number of purebred cattle, it may not add additional dollars to their market price when sold with other commercial animals. The value can be seen differently within each operation.

Megan Brehm, director of communications and marketing for the American Shorthorn Association, says in a case like this, producers still benefit from the performance and lineage information given to the registered animals.

The commercial operation can make sure they have consistent results with the cattle they are breeding. It applies economically and can benefit any operation depending on how it is used, she says.

It gives producers the opportunity to compare cattle with other cattle all over the country. It also gives an extra marketing advantage to the operation. But when looking at feeder auction markets, they won’t give the higher price for a registered animal.

Gregory Feedlots Inc. in Iowa has bought a few registered culled cows from producers in the past, but it hasn’t paid more than market price.

“It makes no difference to us if they are registered or not,” says David Trowbridge, manager of Gregory Feedlots Inc.

The purebred industry is a niche market. There are sale barns that hold special sales for registered cattle or the producer can choose to market independently.

The extra value depends upon the customer base and the goal for the animal. The registration certificate isn’t necessarily for everyone. However, it is what the producer decides to do with it that can make the difference.

Though commercial cow-calf operations may not benefit in the same way as seedstock, registration papers can provide them with valued information to increase performance in their cattle. Adding a registered bull to their operation is a tool to manage production, maternal and carcass performance.

Each operation is different. The value varies on the situation and can result in many different ways. Producers can use the information to prevent inbreeding and other undesired traits from mixing into the herd.

The process to registering is simple, says Brehm. The producer can choose to submit an application to the qualified foundation online, by mail or by fax.

The results are received quickly, typically within a 24-hour period. The cost can depend on the association or foundation registering and sometimes the age of the animal.

It is important to check with the association about rules and regulations.

Once registered, the animal is registered for life. Besides annual membership dues, there is no cost in maintaining the registration. Also, select associations have a registration for some hybrid breeds.

A cow becomes more than a cow with that extra documentation. However, it is what is done with the documentation that adds any value. Depending on the goal of the producer the registration paper can become a dictionary to selecting and breeding or a dusty document stashed in the drawer.

Though the beef industry’s prices have remained high, it is important producers still focus on the quality of the animal. This will prepare the industry for harder times and will continue to build lasting genetics. Good performing cattle keep their worth, even during high prices.  end mark

Registration papers provide information to help producers increase profitability and performance in their herd. Photos courtesy of Megan Brehm.

Interested? Simple steps to registering your cattle

  1. Membership dues need to be paid in order to register. Check with your specific breed association for more information regarding payment and costs.
  2. Choose whether to submit application electronically, by mail or by fax.
  3. Gather the specific information outlined below:
    •  The complete birth date of the animal (month, day, year)
    • The sex of the animal
    • The permanent identification number.
    • Provide the sire and dam’s registration numbers. If either parent has not been registered, you can enter as a foundation animal first. The foundation animals must have an ID or name, birth date and breed composition.
  4. Depending on the association, the color and whether it is polled, horned or scurred may be asked.
  5. The given birthweight, calving ease, weaning weight and date may be asked but is not required to register.
  6. It is a good idea to make a copy of your registration prior to submitting the application. If there is any missing information, an email is usually sent to the applicant regarding the missing data.
  7. If you have any questions be sure to check with your breed association. Some things vary depending on the breed.