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Bovines tops among nation's Angus cattle

Two Angus cows graze daily on a 262-acre farm in Hampton, Ga., oblivious that they have been ranked among the nation's top bovines.

Only 2,099 of the nearly 30,000 American Angus Association members are represented in the association's 2011 Pathfinder Report, according to Bill Bowman, chief operating officer and director of performance programs of the association based in Saint Joseph, Mo.

The national report identifies superior cattle based on their breeding performance, and local farmer, John White, III, owns two of the nation's top Angus cows. The owner could not be reached for comment.

"I didn't realize they were possible Pathfinder cows," remarked Chris Phillips, the farm manager of the Acres Away farm in Hampton. He said he recently learned of the designation.

The two cows are part of a 60-member herd, said Phillips, in a telephone interview. The manager said he could not discuss, in detail, the farm's operations.

"For them [Acres Away] to get in to that, they've got a good line of cows there; they've got to be pretty good to start with," said Marvin Rose, president of the Henry County Cattlemen's Association.

"I'm very proud of them," Rose continued. "Farming is a thing of the past in Henry County, but you still have a few of us messing with cows."

Bowman pointed out that only a small lot of cows can qualify for Pathfinder status, based on traits that include early and regular calving, and heavy weaning weights. He said there were more than 1.9 million eligible dams (cows) and more than 6.2 million weaning records examined to determine Pathfinder status.

The Pathfinder Report is published each February, and ranks cows based on their "records of performance" in the prolific, and consistent, production of quality calves, according to Kristin Toll, a customer service representative at the association.

"The significance of this is that only certain cows qualify for inclusion [in the Pathfinder Report], based on their ability to produce the top-notch cows," which are used for food consumption, Toll added.

Toll said the recognition demonstrates that the cows are high-yield bovines when it comes to producing animals that are ideal for food production. The animals, depending on the market, could sell for between $1,500 and $100,000.

The 2011 Pathfinder Report lists 9,083 cows, and 242 sires. The largest number of Pathfinder cows in a single herd is 86.

The Pathfinder Report is also published online, at www.angus.org.