2019 ACA Membership Survey Results

2019 ACA Membership Survey

The ACA Board of Directors agreed to survey the membership to assist in providing input and direction to the function of the association.  The questions were drafted and shared with the ACA Staff, who provided substantial editing and input.  The revised questions were reviewed and further modified by the Board of Directors.  The research instrument was developed using Qualtrics (an online survey tool).  Every ACA and AJCA member with a valid email address received an invitation to participate via an e-blast, which was emailed on October 15, 2019.  Three additional follow-up e-blast reminders were sent to those who had not opened their email on October 19, 25, and 29.  The survey closed on October 31.  A total of 112 members completed the entire questionnaire.  The results were presented at the 2019 ACA Annual Membership Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky on Tuesday, November 17.


Question 1:  What additional services would you like to see provided by the ACA?

Members would like the ACA to offer the following services by ranking them as follows:

  1. A DNA Department (33.58%)
  2. Coordinating State or Regional Sales (29.20%)
  3. Conducting State or Regional Field Days (27.01%)
  4. Other (10.22%)

Question 2: Would you appreciate a call from an ACA staff member?

Members were mixed regarding their desire for contact by an ACA staff member:

  • 30.10% desired a call
  • 51.46% were undecided
  • 18.45% did NOT desire a call

This was a curious response; what breeder wouldn’t want to be contacted by a member of the ACA staff?  So the results were run again, comparing the responses from adult and junior members.  The results were as follows:

Question 2: Would you appreciate a call from an ACA staff member? (Comparing responses from adult and youth members.)

Adult members were much more interested in receiving a call from an ACA staff member as compared to junior members.  40.79% of adults indicated that they would appreciate a call from an ACA staff member, as compared to 0.00% of youth!  Likewise, 47.37% of adults responded “maybe” (compared to 66.67% of youth).  Only 11.84% of adults did not want an ACA staff member to call them, compared to one-third (33.33%) of youth.

Question 3: Would you appreciate an on-farm/ranch visit from our field staff?

Similar to the previous questions, 35.24% of respondents indicated that they would appreciate a visit from an ACA field representative to their farm or ranch.  38.10% were undecided, while 26.67% did not want a visit from an ACA staff member.

The responses to this question also required additional study.  Therefore, the results were analyzed by comparing the responses from adult versus junior members.

Question 3: Would you appreciate an on-farm/ranch visit from our field staff? (Comparing responses from adult and youth members.)

It is interesting to note that a larger percentage of both adult and junior members were receptive to the idea of a farm / ranch visit from an ACA staff member; however, they didn’t want them to call!  Adult members were much more interested in a visit than were junior members with 44.87% responding “yes”, as compared to 7.14% of junior members.  Only 15.38% of adult members did not want a farm / ranch visit, as compared to 60.71% of junior members.

Question 4:  Do you feel the ACA staff provides quality customer service?

Members overwhelmingly believe that the ACA Staff provides quality customer service with 80.00% answering “yes” to this question.

Question 5: What more should your association be doing at (or with) shows or events?

Thirty-five (of 112) people responded to this open-ended question.  The responses were categorized as follows:

  1. Additional advertising, marketing, and promotion (10)
  2. Increase ACA staff presence at state fairs (8)
  3. Increase the number of state and regional shows (8) with Chianina and Chiangus divisions (host more regional shows, convince more shows nation-wide to offer Chianina and Chiangus classes, host more state shows)
  4. Promote full blood and high percentage cattle (6)
  5. Promote the Chianina breed versus a “type” (5)

Question 6:  How do you prefer to receive communications from the ACA about association events, changes, shows, etc.?

Respondents ranked their preferences regarding receiving ACA communications in the following order:

  1. e-blast (average rank of 1.9)
  2. website (average rank of 2.59)
  3. ACJ (average rank of 2.63)
  4. direct mail (average rank of 2.88)

Again, the responses of adults versus youth were compared to determine the impact of generational differences.

Question 6:  How do you prefer to receive communications from the ACA about association events, changes, shows, etc.? (Comparing responses from adult and youth members.)

Receiving an e-blast from the ACA was the preferred method of receiving communications from the ACA by both adults (1.86) and juniors (1.66).  However, preferences for the other three methods of communication differed when comparing adults and juniors.  The ACJ was the second most preferred communication for adults (2.4) but was last (4th) with a mean rank of 3.07 for juniors.  Adults ranked receiving information from the ACA website third (2.7) as compared to juniors, who ranked it second (2.24).  Interestingly, adults ranked direct mail last (4th in preference, with a mean rank of 2.93) whereas juniors ranked it third, with a mean rank of 2.34.  These preference differences preferences are a good example of the stark comparisons in generational differences and the methods by which different generations prefer to communicate.

Question 7: What do you want the ACJ to accomplish?

Respondents indicated that the ACJ should accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Deliver content / new information (33.70%);
  2. Breed promotion (30.94%)
  3. Breeder advertising (27.07%)
  4. Other (8.29%)

Question 8:  Have you advertised in the ACJ during the past 12 months?

83.02% of respondents have not advertised in the ACJ in the past 12 months.  Obviously, this statistic is not healthy for the American Chianina Journal.

Question 9:  What is your motivation for advertising in the ACJ:

Advertisers indicated that their motivation for ACJ advertising included:

  1. Promoting their operation and cattle (58.82%)
  2. Supporting the ACA (29.41%)
  3. Tradition (7.06%)
  4. Other (4.71%)

Obviously, anything that the ACJ can do to expand its circulation and coverage and reach more people, thereby extending its promotional outreach, will fulfill the motivation of the majority of respondents (58.82%) to continue to advertise in the Journal.

Question 10:  If you do not advertise in the ACJ, why not?

Respondents ranked the following reasons for not advertising in the ACJ:

  1. Other (31.18%)
  2. ACJ doesn’t reach their customers (23.66%)
  3. Small operations / herds (20.43%)
  4. Low Circulation (20.43%)
  5. ACJ focuses on show cattle; their focus is commercial cattle (18.28%)

As the majority of respondents chose “Other” (the most popular response category, with 31.18% of respondents), additional study was required.   The open-ended comments were compiled into two categories.  The largest category, with 19 responses, included “I have a small herd/ I don’t have enough numbers/I don’t have many Chianina.”  The second category, with 7 responses, was categorized as “I have a limited budget / it’s not cost effective/ I’m unsure if print advertising pays.”

Question 11:  Do you advertise online?

The bulk of respondents (64.42%) indicated that they advertise online.  This could indicate that the ACA should create and offer online marketing opportunities to members as a member service, which could generate revenue for the ACA.

Question 12: Would you consider online advertising on the ACA website (e-blasts, classified ads, calendar listings, etc.)?

While 41.75% of respondents indicated that they would consider online advertising with the ACA, 45.63% were undecided.  This could indicate that members are either in favor of online advertising opportunities, or are considering it.  This could support the idea of creating and promoting online advertising opportunities for members.

Question 13: How can we increase the number of cattle exhibited at our national shows?

Respondents indicated that entries at our national shows (NAILE, NWSS, FWSS, Chiangus Classic, and NJHS) could be increased by:

  1. Raising / offering premiums (31.50%);
  2. Providing coverage / show results in other publications (28.35%)
  3. Other (25.20%)
  4. Giving nicer awards (14.96%)

Thirty two (32) open-ended responses were recorded.  Of those, the largest category (7 responses) focused on allowing high percentage and/or full blood cattle to participate in our national shows.  (Note:  It should be pointed out that it has been the long-standing policy of the ACA to offer a full blood show at any show at which 10 or more head are exhibited.)

Question 14: Do you exhibit at the ACA National Shows (NAILE, NWSS, FWSS, CC, NJHS)?

Interestingly, 38.68% of respondents have exhibited in at least one national show during the past 12 months; as compared to 36.79% have never exhibited in a national show.

Question 15: If you have not participated in a national show, why not?

Respondents ranked the following responses as their reasons for not participating in one or more of the ACA sponsored national shows.

  1. “I can’t be away from home / work that long” was the primary reason for not exhibiting in a national show. (21.55%)
  2. Other (18.10%)
  3. I don’t have enough help (12.93%)
  4. Too time consuming (11.21%)
  5. Too expensive (11.21%)
  6. I don’t raise show cattle (8.62%)
  7. My kids grew up (7.76%)

Although the question as to whether or not the respondent worked off of the farm / ranch was not asked, the majority of ACA members are not full-time, self-employed farmers / ranchers.  Therefore, the amount of time required to be at a national show is a big barrier to participation.

Question 16: Have you registered cattle in the past 12 months?

The overwhelming majority (89.72%) of respondents have registered cattle in the past 12 months.

Question 17: What would motivate you to register more cattle?

Respondents identified three primary factors that would motivate them to register more cattle.  These factors included:

  1. Greater demand for Chianina and Chiangus breeding stock (25.61%)
  2. Greater demand for Chianina and Chiangus show cattle (24.39%)
  3. More opportunities to sell registered cattle (state sales) (21.95%)
  4. More shows (16.46%)
  5. Other (11.59%)

Question 18: Do you submit performance data when you register cattle?

The greatest number of respondents indicated that they sometimes (as compared with always, most of the time, half of the time, or never) submit performance data when registering cattle (43.27%).  Only 17.31% of respondents reported that they always submit performance data.

Question 19:  Do you believe that ACA cattle are worth more if they’re registered?

The overwhelming majority (69.81%) of respondents believe that Chiangus and Chianina cattle are worth more if they’re registered.

Question 20: In which of the following new programs will you participate in 2020?

The ACA Board of Directors has created several new programs that will be introduced for the first time in 2020.  Respondents indicated that they would participate in the following new programs in the coming year:

  • Joining or reviving the state association (32.61%)
  • Creating, reviving, or joining the state junior association (26.09%)
  • Exhibiting in one of the regional junior shows (19.57%)
  • Participating in the Junior All-American Points Program (15.22%)
  • ACA – University of Illinois Sire Test (6.52%)

Question 21: In which ACA Region do you live?

The ACA divides the United States into four regions.  In terms of membership, the Northeast region is the largest (Indiana and Iowa are typically first and second in both membership and registrations.)  Respondents represented the following ACA regions:

  • Northeast (41.76%)
  • Southwest (27.47%)
  • Southeast (16.48%)
  • Northwest (14.29%)

Question 22: What is your membership level?

Respondents were primarily adult (72.90%) as compared to youth members (27.10%)

Question 23:  Would ACA cattle be easier to breed and sell if we used fractions?

When asked if ACA cattle would be easier to breed, market, and sell by registering them with fractions versus percentages, responses were nearly evenly distributed between “Yes” (29.52%); “Maybe” (33.33%); and “No” (37.14%).

Question 24:  Would you be in favor of designating ACA composite cattle by fractions rather than percentages?

Respondents were more positive about registering cattle by fractions rather than percentages to align the ACA with cattle industry standards (and the manner in which most breeds record percentages.)

  • Yes (33.33%); Maybe (43.81%); and No (22.86%).

Question 25: Would you support all ACA composites being designated by fractions?

Respondents support including ACA composites (except full bloods and American Purebreds) in an upbreeding program, designated by fractions, using a different name (ChiStar Elite, Chiangus Elite, Chiford Elite).  However, none of the categories received a majority of responses.

  • Yes (39.81%); Maybe (29.13%); No (31.07%)

Question 26: Should the three ACA boards be composed of 10 versus 12 members?

The ACA has discussed reducing the number of people serving on the board of directors.  Therefore, the decision was made to pose the question to the membership.  Although the majority were undecided, respondents do not support reducing the three boards of directors from 12 to 10.

  • “Yes” ~ 20.79%; “Maybe” ~ 51.49%; “No” ~ 27.72%


In addition to the findings, there were a variety of additional implications revealed through the study.  These include the following:

  • Full Blood breeders are dissatisfied with the ACA and focus their frustration on the Board of Directors.  Their specific concerns include:
  • A perceived lack of support for full bloods
  • The perceived lack of full bloods shows
  • The ACA Board’s preference for a particular “type” of cattle, rather than full blood Chianina
  • Respondents believe that the easiest ways to register more cattle in the ACA Herd Book include:
  • Expanding state and regional sales
  • Increasing the demand for show cattle
  • Expanding the number of state and regional sales for ACA cattle
  • A significant effort should be made to ensure that all state fairs offer both Chianina and Chiangus divisions in both junior and open shows.  However, respondents indicated that the ACA is responsible for making contact with state fairs and convincing them to offer Chianina and Chiangus breeds.  In reality, this is best accomplished by ACA members that live in that state and have relationships with state fair board members.
  • ACA members must remember that the ACA is a small, lean organization with limited resources.  The ACA cannot be all things to all people.  It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to take input (including the findings of this membership survey) and set priorities.
  • In order for the ACA to grow, it must be strengthened at the grassroots level.
  • Members can grow the association by doing the following:
  • Organize a state association (both adult and junior)
  • Host an annual state show. (Sent the results to Heather Counts.  The results will be printed in the ACJ and points will be compiled for All-American Awards and Junior All-American Awards.)
  • Work with your state fair (and other major shows) to offer breed classes for both Chianina and Chiangus. (Send the results from those shows to Heather Counts.)
  • Work with ACA staff to coordinate and conduct either a state or regional sale.  Providing additional opportunities to show and sell cattle was identified as two of the best ways to increase registrations.
  • Register more cattle.
  • Submit performance data on your entire contemporary group.
  • Transfer every head that you sell for breeding and/or show.  (Don’t ask the buyer “Do you want the papers?”  Instead, ask the buyer “How do you want the papers transferred?”