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Winter Cattle Journal 2019: Valley View Charolais

As Buddy Westphal reflects on his 50 years of purebred Charolais bull sales, the words “genetics” and “work” continue to resurface. Working hard to raise good genetics. Genetics that work for cattlemen. Work that makes for a good way of life.  

Growing up a ranch kid in Limon, Colo., Westphal’s father had used Charolais bulls, but “I was more concerned with football and girls than what color our cattle were,” says Westphal. A rodeo scholarship took him to Colorado State University, where his focus eventually returned to cattle. After receiving a degree in animal science he worked on his master’s under Dr. Thomas Sutherland, noted geneticist (who later was held hostage in Beirut, where he was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad while teaching at the university and kept captive for more than six years). Dr. Sutherland was always “preaching about hybrid vigor, and what the European breeds would do when crossed with our cattle.” Westphal decided then that Charolais were the route to go. He went searching for Charolais cattle, and upon finding a herd in Polson, Mont., ended up with a Charolais herd and the ranch as well when the owner offered it for sale.  

The ranch included a commercial division, which Westphal ran for several years before dispersing it to focus on seedstock. “The commercial end was a good chance to put my own genetics to work – I learned a lot about the Charolais business by using my bulls on my own cows. You learn to produce what you want to use, and what others will want.” 

Because of calving 500 cows with limited help, Westphal says his focus has always been on easy calving, which he has developed through light birthweights and short gestation lengths. After a year of calving early in his career when the AI bred cows went long overdue and his calves were too big, Westphal went to Canada to comb through their Charolais Conception to Consumer genetic records, specifically seeking bulls with short gestation lengths. “There’s no question I’ve built up a reputation for easy calving,” he says. 

Westphal details factors they have focused on to avoid calving problems: short gestation of 283 days or less, conformation, age of dam, and birth weight of dam and bull. “A large, dead calf at birth has a distressingly poor weaning weight and growth rate,” says Westphal. 

Two unique facets of his business have always been selling only 2-year-old bulls and offering free delivery long before it was standard in the business. “We want our bulls to have a chance to mature, and sort out the good and cull the bad,” says Westphal. “Plus, we believe they stay sound for more years than feedlot-fattened yearling bulls.” 

He learned early on that the northwest corner of Montana is a tough draw for location, so he included free delivery to entice sales. “In those days, there weren’t any goosenecks – just stock trucks with rickety frames that would only go 40 miles an hour while you’re wondering the whole time if the bull was going to jump out.”  

Westphal and his wife, Lin, tally 60 days and 20,000 miles delivering bulls to a 16-state region after the sale. “It’s a great opportunity to visit some of the best ranches in the U.S., get to know the people and also get to know their cow herd.” Many of his repeat customers now rely on his recommendation to deliver their bulls, sight unseen.  

Today Westphal’s son, Scott, and his wife, Amy, and their two sons, Jaden, 12, and Jace, 9, are the second and third generations on the ranch. Scott handles daily operations and while Amy teaches at a local country school, she also does computer work and outside work. “She can drive a truck and ride a horse, plus she’s a real good mother,” says Westphal. 

Westphal’s philosophy continues to focus on solid bulls that work hard and earn their keep and grow off genetics, not feed. While probably one of very few people who have judged both horses (cutting) and cattle (Charolais) at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, he views the show ring as having little correlation to the needs of cattle producers. He took his role lining up the Charolais cattle at this event in 2001 as an effort to impact the future of the breed by selecting cattle that cattlemen, not showmen, would breed to. 

“I joke that most of the time I like to go see who won the show so I know who not to breed to,” he says. “I look at my genetics and have to decide if I want to make bulls that I can sell one bull to a purebred breeder across the country, or sell a truckload of them to a commercial breeder who has 1,000 head of cows.” 

Westphal notes the terrain of northwest Montana is tough country. “We have to use genes instead of feed – we have a cow herd that fits our environment, which means we do not have mammoth cows. We have to stay practical to fit our environment and lack of good feed.” 

He continues to select herd sires for carcass traits, and recently had a group of cull heifers grade 93 percent Choice or Prime and yield 65.5 percent. Detailed weight and EPD records are kept on all cattle, one of Westphal’s favorite aspects of his work. “I could analyze records all day long,” he says. “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”  

An annual production cycle for Valley View Ranch starts in April with a 45-day calving window, with 80 percent calving in a 21-day cycle. Anything not calved after 45 days is sold so calving is complete before irrigating and haying begins. October brings the annual “trailing home” of the yearling bulls from the pasture– 17-miles of gravel, pavement, across the Flathead River, and home. “This is a great culling tool for us,” says Westphal. “When you trail a yearling bull that many miles on gravel, then pavement, and off in the brush, you can tell who‘s going to travel and who isn’t. Those last ones in line, we take to town and cull them. Our bulls go across the scales at 18 months; this rank is used to make our sale order.”  

One year saw an atypical crew of “cow-punchers” on the drive. Amy brought her students from the rural school on a unique “field trip” to bring the bulls home. “Some were on ponies, some were on good horses … there were even a few on bicycles,” says Westphal. “It was the Wild West, but those kids had a lot of fun and learned a lot that’s not found in a classroom.”  

Cattle are preg-tested and sexed by ultrasound. “This gives me the option to sort by sex and also nail down exact gestation lengths, which we are very, very conscientious of,” says Westphal. Weaning occurs for three-weeks around Thanksgiving. Bulls are pastured until January, then pre-sale production starts. The annual bull sale is the last Saturday in March, and 185 2-year-old bulls cross the block. Yearling heifers are sold private treaty, with many bull customers repeat purchasers on the female side.  

Westphal says it seems unreal he’s been blessed to do this for more than 50 years. “I’ve been lucky for 50 years, but I guess we’ve also worked hard to prepare for our luck. We definitely have the best life that anyone can ask for.”

Winter Cattle Journal 2019: Bobcat Angus

Sometime around 1985, amidst football helmets, cowboy hats, and a blue and gold mascot, ideas for collaboration began to form among three Montana State University “farm kid” athletes. What came from that partnership was Bobcat Angus, today one of Montana’s successful purebred Angus ranches, which continues to grow with the next generation coming home. 

Brothers Bryan and Ernie Ratzburg, of Galata, Mont., were fourth generation dryland farmers and commercial cattlemen. Both played football for the MSU Bobcats with John Goggins of Shepherd, Mont., whose family had been in the purebred cattle, ranching and auction business for decades. After their degrees were on the wall and football games watched from the stadium, the three formed a partnership to expand the Ratzburg business using Goggins Angus genetics. The likely moniker? Their college mascot.  

Cows and plows 

The Ratzburgs grew up with cattle, but farming was their mainstay. After returning home, Bryan branched out to expand the cattle and Ernie managed the farm side. Today they run 500 registered Angus mother cows and a commercial herd of around 1,000 head. The farm has grown to include malt barley, durum, winter wheat, lentils, canola, hay, and corn silage, and they’ve built a 2,000-head feedlot near the farm feedbase. In fall they truck most of the cows from the main cattle operation in the harsher, Sweet Grass hills near Galata where Bryan and his family are based, back to the home farm near Conrad, where Ernie and his family live. The 70-mile drop in latitude offers milder climate and ideal winter grazing on field residue. This diversification adds synergy that couldn’t be achieved by two independent operations. 

“It works out really well to run the two places together,” says Ernie. “If the cattle aspect were strictly on its own, we would only be about a 600-cow operation, but we’ve basically doubled that by being able to winter them down here.” 

Two-thirds of their registered herd calves in the spring and one-third in the fall. They artificially inseminate for six weeks in May and June, and sell bred heifers in their production sale in synchronized, sexed and 10-day calving lots. Weaning comes mid-October. All heifer calves are backgrounded at the feedlot, with a couple hundred head sold at their January sale. Steers are marketed through the Northern Video Auction. This January will be their 14th production sale, with an expected 90 2-year-old bulls, 50 fall bull calves, 60 yearling bulls, 850 head of bred females, and over 200 head of Bangs vaccinated heifer calves. They also sell all coming 8-year-old cows each year in order to turn genetics over faster.  

EPDs and improvement 

Every animal in the Bobcat Angus sale is 50K genomic tested, with many of the mature registered cows also now in the database. “Having full genomic EPDs helps us accelerate our breeding and culling decisions,” says Bryan. Along with their personal parameters, they pay a lot of attention to $B (beef value) and predicted carcass traits. 

“I’m really a solid believer in science,” say Bryan. “I’ve seen results since we first started using 50K, and I believe it is only going to get more and more accurate every year.” He noted a case of four full brother flushes they took to Denver – all with genomic data. Theoretically, flushes should be equal, “But when we looked at them, phenotypically, there were differences. The fun thing was the 50K nailed those physical differences every time – the EPDs correlated directly. That’s when I really became a believer.” 

The Ratzburgs won’t buy an outside bull unless it is 50K tested. “With the investment cost of some of these bulls, we don’t want to roll the dice. We want information before we buy it, no surprises.” 

Commercial at heart 

The bull business isn’t an easy one to break into. “You really have to have slow growth and build customer trust in this business,” says Bryan. “A lot of people tell us we’ve done well in our relatively short time period, and we know if our customers come back for three or four years, we’re doing something right.” 

Vern Frey of Frey Livestock Sales & Service in Towner, N.D., works with the Ratzburgs promoting their sales and expanding their marketing base. He says the Ratzburgs are to be commended for their progressive work in genomics and embryo work. Additionally, he says they are matching traits to real world scenarios and environments. “They are raising cattle that fit the needs of their commercial producers, who are interested in both improving their cow herds and their bottom line.” 

“I’ve always told people I’m a commercial man at heart,” says Bryan. “It’s fun to look at our commercial cows, they’re pretty predictable and consistent.” This consistency has been built through years of AI, and “mass producing” bulls he liked, including Leachman Right Time, WK Bobcat and Musgrave Big Sky. “When we take our 2- and 3-year-olds and our 8- and 10-year old cows to town, our customers see what our genetics are doing on a commercial basis. That’s been our model from the time we started our production sale.” 

Bullish future 

When talking to either Bryan or Ernie, it’s easy to see how the success of their operation is tied to the positive and progressive outlook both share. Both agree politics, land prices and labor are challenges within the industry, but technology and sophistication within ag have created an exciting future. 

“Back in the ’90s when I came out of school, if I hadn’t had an operation to go home to my options were to work for $17,000 a year as a hired man or be an ag banker,” says Ernie. “Now days kids out of universities have multiple jobs waiting. It’s refreshing to watch it evolve.” 

The Ratzburg operation is a model of a true family business – in particular, one that has put a lot of work into planning for successful generational transfer. Bryan and Ernie’s parents, Karl and Roberta, are still involved, with their dad operating a tractor most days of the year. Bryan and his wife, Cathy, and Ernie and his wife, Jayne, each have three children. The oldest four of the six have or are making plans to come back. In addition to having the wisdom to build a team of outside resources, the Ratzburgs have the fortune of diverse interests and niche fits among the next generation.  

Bryan and Cathy’s oldest son Cole completed a master’s degree in cattle reproduction and nutrition – his emphasis is in the genetic work and embryo transfer. Second son, Kamron, is finishing up vet school and is engaged. He plans to oversee herd health as well as practice locally. Daughter Rebecca is interested in health care, with many options ahead. Ernie and Jayne’s oldest son, David, has a degree in ag business and will be married in February, and their middle son Justin will graduate in diesel mechanics. Their youngest son Richard will graduate from high school this spring. Within the past year the Ratzburgs have bought out the interest of Goggins, as he opted to move his focus closer to home as well.  

Beyond family, the Ratzburgs value outside consult and their network is wide. 

“In my opinion you have to take advantage of every piece of advice you can get,” says Ernie. “The more knowledge you have before you enter into something, the better real-life experience you’ll get out of it.” 

Bryan says it’s critical to have a good legal structure, good entity structure, a good accountant and a good banker. “And you better be willing to not retire early – it takes a lot of effort.  

“My Dad is 78 and still loves doing this. I see myself the same way; we’ll never retire totally, we’ll always be involved until our time is past.”

Winter Cattle Journal 2019: Ridl Angus

Located two miles north of Dickinson, North Dakota, Ridl Angus is a family-owned and operated business whose mission is to provide high quality customer service, productive cattle and continue to maintain a refined, distinguished cow herd. Being a father-son operation, Ridl Angus has all the makings of a business that prides itself on its customer service and ensures that buyers know the breeding stock that they see is the breeding stock they buy.  

“I think the progression of our cow herd is one of our greatest accomplishments,” states Rusty Ridl, son of Arthur and Cindi Ridl. Arthur and Cindy ranch and farm alongside their son Rusty, his wife Alysha and their two daughters Emaly and Betty Joe.  

It’s All About the Cows 

In 1997, the Ridls dispersed their long-time commercial Simmental herd and Ridl Angus was created. They began buying cows and currently most of the Ridl Angus breeding females originate from Dale Luhman and Luhman Angus.  

“We implemented an extensive AI program into our herd right away and have continued that today,” says Rusty. In 1998, Ridl Angus had its first joint production sale with Luhman Angus and now has a yearly production sale the first Tuesday in March. 

“We strive for docile, productive cows that are easy keepers and wean off a good calf and breed back in a timely matter,” says Rusty. “We demand a maternal herd that is good-footed with good udders.” 

Rusty and Arthur strive for these maternal based characteristics and qualities that excel in calving ease, production and disposition while also having the genetics and eye appeal that producers want. Heifers start calving the beginning of January and run right along with the main cow herd that begin calving the first of February.  

The herd is summered on native North Dakota pastures until the calves are weaned the end of September. The cows are then preg-checked and return to fall grazing, which consists of cover crop and corn stalk residue. After weaning, the bulls go on a high roughage ration to induce fertility and longevity to ensure they are athletic breeding bulls for the upcoming season.  

 

NDAA Bull Test 

For 31 years Ridl Angus has been heavily involved in the North Dakota Angus Association (NDAA) Annual Bull Test. Bulls involved in the test are received at Ridl Farms the first week of November and are fed there until the sale. L.J. and Janet Dohrman manage the business aspect of the test alongside Rusty and the Ridl family, who are in charge of feeding the bulls.  

“It is a great bull test where consigners from Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota can, the first week in November, bring bulls to Ridl Farms, where they are put on gain tests for 112 days,” says Janet Dohrmann. “At the end of the 112 days, bulls are sold at the sale the fourth Monday in April.” 

Along with being home to the bull test, Ridl farms usually consigns one or two bulls to the NDAA Bull Test each year as well. In 2018, there were 75 bulls involved in the bull test.  

Feed Em Till You Need Em 

Customer service is important to the Ridl Angus operation and Rusty and Arthur strive to make sure the experience their customers have will encourage them to return. Along with having to pass a complete breeding soundness exam, all bulls sold at their March sale will be freeze branded and have DNA enhanced EPDs. Ridl Angus also offers producers the option of “feeding ’em till you need ’em.” 

“The feed ’em till you need ’em program is a feeding program we offer after the sale,” says Rusty. “We do not put a restricted timeline on when you have to pick up your purchase, as long as you pick your bulls up at the ranch, we are happy to care for them as if they were our own, free of charge until you are ready for them.” 

Rusty goes on to say that they have multiple producers that come to pick up their bulls  the day they turn bulls out and go directly to pasture with them.  Producers are also welcome to brand their bulls before they are loaded onto the truck.  

 

More Than Just a Job 

“Raising cattle is my passion,” Rusty says. “Waking up in the middle of the night and going out to the calving barn isn’t work. It has to be done and I enjoy doing it. Fixing fence every day, moving cattle around, AIing season and new calves in the spring is more of a treat than it is a job.” 

Along with the cattle, the Ridls have a large farming operation that is run by Rusty’s brother Joe and his uncle Kirt. Together they grow multiple different crops including spring wheat, malted barley, corn and sunflowers. During the busy season, such as harvest, everyone helps each other succeed.  

“The best part of working with family is everyone puts in 100 percent,” says Rusty. “This isn’t just a job, so when family is the main source of labor everyone puts in 100 percent effort; it’s a way of life, not just a job.” 

This year the Ridl Angus Production Sale will take place Tuesday March 5 at 2:00 PM MDT at Stockmans West in Dickinson where there will be 75 yearling angus bulls for sale. The Ridl family is proud of their herd and encourages potential buyers or interested individuals to stop by the ranch.

Winter Cattle Journal 2019: Rydeen Farms Simmentals

For three generations the Rydeen family has flourished in the beautiful lakes and trees of northwestern Minnesota where they have expanded and diversified into selling high quality breeding livestock. Through embracing new technology, they have been able to acquire accurate information about their herd, which has allowed them to make informed decisions and pass that information on to their buyers. 

History of Eureka Excelsior 

In 1897, Edward D. Rydeen homesteaded 160 acres of Eureka Excelsior (Rydeen Farms) at the age of 21, when President Cleveland signed the Minnesota Homestead Act. In 1950, Edward and Louella Rydeen’s son, Reuben and his wife Wanda went into partnership with his father in the dairy business. Reuben and Wanda’s son, Paul bought his first beef herd when he was a sophomore in high school and the farm moved into beef production. In 1985 Paul and Lois were married and bought the family farm. 

“Only a small percentage of businesses remain after 100 years,” says Paul Rydeen. “We feel fortunate to be able to expand on what my grandfather started over 120 years ago. We have grown from that original 160 acres to owning just under 2,000 acres.” 

Today, Paul and Lois work together to operate Rydeen Farms along with Perry Lambright, Matt Lavin, and Gene Warren. Paul and Lois’s two children Claire (married to Chad Patel), and Justis both currently work as full time engineers and provide support and help whenever they are home. Additionally, Justis maintains a small herd at the farm. 

“We live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” says Paul. “We are blessed to have family members that surround us whenever we have a need for extra help.” 

Breeding Program 

Rydeens are constantly trying to improve their cattle so that buyers like the phenotype and stay profitable at the same time. 

“Keeping an eye on industry trends, we believe that Simmental cattle work extremely well on Angus and Red Angus cows,” states Paul. “We believe that a bull is an investment so it is essential that buyers have the information that they need to make a sound choice as a bull will affect the herd for years to come.” 

Rydeen Farms have both a spring calving herd and a fall calving herd which allows them to offer yearlings and aged bulls to their customers. Customer satisfaction is very important to the Rydeen family. “The relationship we have with our customers is one of the most gratifying parts of this business,” says Paul. “We won’t succeed unless they succeed.” 

Making Technology Work for Them 

Technology now plays a larger role in the cattle industry than ever before, with more accurate and affordable ways of providing valuable data. Buyers are very information-savvy and expect meaningful data. The American Simmental Association is very data driven and in the forefront with adopting new technologies. 

“We verify EPDs and parentage through DNA on the bulls we sell,” Paul says. 

“Genomic-Enhanced EPDs improve accuracy, tests for genetic defects and confirms parentage to ensure the buyer is getting the most reliable EPDs possible.” Paul goes on to explain that the more reliable genomics are goof for breeders and buyers as meaningful data improves confidence in the product and decreases risk. 

The Rydeen family has been a member of the American Simmental Association for decades and participates in Total Herd Enrollment. They have also been recognized as a Performance Advocate for several years, which means that they have collected and submitted every required data point to the Association on time. This information helps provide data that can improve the accuracy of the herd and the breed as a whole. 

“This last year we participated in the Cow Herd Round Up and tested the DNA of every female in our herd as well as weighing every adult female in our herd,” Paul explains. “Since the genotype of every female in our herd has been validated, we can provide more accurate EPDs on the bulls we sell.” 

Biosecurity measures are also very important to Rydeen Farms, so they do not utilize cooperator herds, and they annually test the whole herd for paratuberculosis, more commonly known as Johne’s disease. Every animal in the herd has an electronic identification that is linked to Rydeen Farms USDA premise identification number, which allows for complete traceability. Rydeen Farms also follows the Beef Quality Assurance guidelines and are certified through them. 

“As we look at trends such as Amazon Beef and single source beef, we know that consumers’ preferences are changing,” says Paul. “As producers, we need to position ourselves for these changes as they present us with opportunities for improvement.” 

For over 20 years Rydeen Farms has held an annual production sale, the Vision Sale, on the second Saturday of February. This year’s Vision Sale will be held Saturday, February 9 at the heated sale facility located right at Rydeen Farms.

2019 Winter Cattle Journal: Schiefelbein Farms

In 1955, Frank Schiefelbein and his wife, Frosty, were a young city couple who knew nothing about farming or cattle. Frank did know one thing–people liked a good steak. That foundational concept led to the start of Shciefelbein Farms, the largest registered Angus operation Minnesota.

They started by buying two heifer crops from another Angus farmer in Minnesota. Frank chose the Angus breed back then for two reasons—they were good eating and didn’t have horns.

As Frank and Frosty were starting their farm, they were also starting their family. After the birth of their ninth son, their family was complete. As the boys grew, so did Frank’s ideas for the herd.

In the late 1970s Frank wanted more from his calves and knew he needed to do something to make them stand out from the others. He decided to start breeding his Angus cows with a Simmental bull. This didn’t work out very well in the beginning because the calves were too big at birth and they had too much frame. That didn’t stop Frank. He knew there was a way to do this, but not the normal way. Frank knew that by taking the egg out of one cow and putting it in a donor cow that he would be able to get the results he wanted. This led him to discovering the benefits of embryo transfer, making them one of the first breeders to try this.

As the years went by the boys grew and headed to college. Frank continued on the farm and waited for the boys to finish school. All of them were welcome to come back to the farm, but there was one stipulation–they had to bring a skill back that would add value to the farm. Seven of the nine boys came back, while the other two continued on with their own career goals. No two of the seven who returned share the same skills.

With all the skills that the boys brought back to the farm that meant there were more opportunities for the farm. Besides more crops, the Schiefelbeins were able to build a state-of-the-art feeding facility, increase their herd numbers, have an annual bull sale, sell semen and embryos, and finally, run a calf buy-back program.

The farm is split into two. One half of the farm is used for crop ground and the other half is pasture. About, 2200 acres of crop ground are planted to corn, soybeans and alfalfa. The pastures run 1,200 pair and are full of rolling hills and timber that provide great shelter for the cows during the summer months. To get the most out of their grass they have incorporated rotational grazing in their program and have enjoyed the benefits. In the winter and after harvest the cows are moved to graze cornstalks.

The closed herd goes back to the very first group of heifers, the Elbow line that Frank bought in 1955. They’ve never been afraid of innovation and use a combination of embryo transfer, in-vitro and AI. Their embryo transfer embryologist is just 20 minutes away and a Transovo In-vitro station is just 10 miles away, which makes it easy and efficient to use the latest technology.

With seven sons, and now four grandsons, working on the farm, it’s important that everyone knows their own job, but is willing and able to help with whatever needs to be done.

Every morning at 8 a.m. the brothers meet to discuss what they’re doing that day and what help they might need. No one is exempt from any task, from picking up rocks in the field to sorting cows and hauling grain.

Frank III, the oldest boy, manages the farm’s steer barn, the spray application, and is trained to AI. His son, Frank IV, took over the embryo transfer program. Sam is in charge of feeding of the 2,400 steers, as well as 200 cows. When he’s not feeding livestock he is helping maintain the farm equipment.

Rick, the second oldest, is in charge of checking on the more than 1,000 registered animals on the farm.

Bob manages the crops and also acts as the farm’s operation manager. Austin, Bob’s son, runs the plow, the digger, and the fertilizer spreader. He’s there to help with anything that needs to be done.

Tom is a welder and mechanic so he spends his time building pens, fences, or fixing machinery. In between all of that you can find him doing dirt work or feeding the livestock.

Mike owns a trucking business and doesn’t work at the farm full-time, but does still help out at the farm and hauls the farm’s crops.

Tim runs the family’s buy-back program and the feedlot risk management. His other job includes heading up the farm’s bull sale. The farm’s state-of-the-art feeding facility is full of calves that Tim has bought from their buy-back program. Travis, Tim’s son, sells calves on Superior Livestock Auction and writes the articles for their catalog and flyers.

Dan, the youngest brother, is in charge of running the seedstock operation.

The annual bull sale, the pinnacle of 63 years of breed development, is held every February at the farm near Kimball, Minnesota. The two-day event includes a viewing of the sale cattle, farm tour, social hour, educational panel and free prime rib dinner. Sale day starts with another viewing of the sale cattle and free beef lunch. The sale is broadcast by Superior Livestock.

In addition to their live cattle sale, they also sell semen and embryos through genetic marketing companies like Genex.

Their buy-back program is a testament to the faith they have in their breeding program. This year alone, Tim, who’s in charge of the program, has bought about 30,000 head of their customers’ calves for their farm to feed out, and for other feeders who are looking for a proven quality feeder animal.

From a young city couple to one of the most progressive Angus breeders in the state, success has been a series of small steps. They have come a long way from filling up their corn crib with an old picker on an International M. Tim says the drive to do better is the key to success. Their family’s goal is to do something better every year, and for at least the last 10 years, they’ve accomplished that. From incorporating rotational grazing, to fall calving part of their herd and new this year, planting rye grass, which will provide early forage for cows and new calves.

The emphasis on family shows, in that, even given the size and diversity of the business, every person working on the farm is a member of the family. Tim said, “We grew up building this farm together. We’re hard headed and want to keep it that way.”

2019 Winter Cattle Journal: Mohnen Angus

Steve Mohnen is passionate about Angus cattle. He’s spent the last 38 years studying the breed and building his herd of elite mama cows.

“I was 25 years old when I started working for Howard Hillman of Bon View Angus Farms in Canova SD from 1980-1985,” said Steve. “While there, I learned how to AI and about the genetics of the breed. Bon View Farms was one of the most progressive Angus operations in the nation, and in starting my own herd back home, 90 percent of my cows originated from Bon View’s proven 8-10-year old cows.”

Steve added, “In 1980, my dad started purchasing bulls when I was working for Bon View and was proud of the calves they produced on his commercial cows. Our registered Angus herd began to grow, and we proudly became Mohnen Angus.”

The Mohnen family has been a staple of the White Lake community since German immigrant Matthew Mohnen homesteaded the ranch in 1884. Since then, generations of Mohnens have worked the land.

“I learned my hard work ethic from my Dad,” said Steve. “Growing up in a family of 11 brothers and sisters, we were expected to help on the ranch. I always enjoyed working with the cattle and hogs. In 1985, I came back home to work alongside my dad, and for the next 10 years, I built my own cow herd, as well.”

In 1994, Steve and his wife Kathy purchased their own place, just four miles down the road from the original homestead site where he grew up. Together, the couple raised cattle and four children — Josh, John, Jenny and Jared.

Josh, his wife Katie, and their four boys — Koye, Kade, Kase and Kole — are back on the ranch. John, his wife Tory, and their two children — Gage and Laynie — also came back home to continue the family tradition in the cattle business.

Meanwhile, Jennifer, and her husband Ty Krell, along with their two children — Jake and Hadlee — ranch near Sundance, Wyo. Jennifer works for Wyoming Farm Bureau Insurance, and Ty serves as the vice president of the Sundance State Bank. Jared Mohnen owns and operates Dakota Ag Insurance Mitchell SD, and runs cattle on the Mohnen ranch, as well.

Today the ranch consists of a registered Angus seedstock herd located near White Lake, S.D., as well as a 275-head commercial herd located in Canova, S.D., which is managed in a partnership with a family friend. To support three families on the ranch, Mohnen credits slow and steady expansions over the years.

“We have continued to increase our land, which has allowed us to grow,” he said. “Our early-calving commercial cows in Canova are used as recips in our embryo transfer program, which has allowed us to bring great genetics to our customers year after year.”

Mohnen Angus hosts an annual bull sale, marketing 140 bulls, that is held on the ranch the second Thursday in February. February 2019 will mark the family’s 25th annual bull sale. Although the Mohnens don’t sell females every year, a fall female sale is slated for 2019. Also new in 2018, Mohnen Angus introduced an “Open the Gate” May bull sale selling an additional 35-40 bulls to customers.

“The Open the Gate sale allowed us to further develop a younger set of bulls with the same strict set of criteria as the bulls sold in our February sale,” said Josh Mohnen. “This was our first year of doing this, but it gave us the opportunity to help our customers out who were needing bulls after semen testing or if a herd sire had gotten hurt. In previous years, when we had gotten those calls, we were sold out of bulls and had to turn them in different directions.”

 

The Mohnens agree that it’s the great people in the cattle business that makes it so enjoyable.

“We love the people in this industry, our customers and the relationships we’ve developed over the years,” said Josh. “Our customer base is a big factor in our business. We need to have strong relationships in order to be successful, and we need to believe and stand behind our products.”

With strong demand for Mohnen Angus genetics, the ranch has enjoyed tremendous success over the years. In 2013, Mohnen South Dakota 402 sold for $120,000 for two-thirds interest to Semex, Dale Edwards and Anvil Angus. In 2014, Mohnen Impressive 1093 sold two-thirds interest for $160,000 to Richard Angus and Genex. Other successful sires for the Mohnens include Long Distance, Dynamite, Substantial, Success, Global and many more.

Another prestigious highlight for Mohnen Angus was winning the 2014 National Western Grand Champion Angus carload show, with a set of 10 Angus bulls. Six of the 10 bulls were sired by Mohnen South Dakota 402, and all 10 went back to the pedigree of Mohnen’s very successful well-known foundation cow, Mohnen’s Jilt 910.
So what has been the secret to Mohnen Angus’ success?

“It all goes back to the Angus cow, and the hard work each and everyone here does to make it successful,” said Steve. “We have a lot of different ideas, and that’s what makes it so rewarding. We are passionate about our part in the Angus business, and we will never stop working to keep our genetically-sound females. Angus are the best mama cows there are, in my opinion. Our cows graze until two weeks before calving. They aren’t pampered. They are expected to work for us and be profitable.”

“Raising quality cattle isn’t just our job; it’s our life,” added John Mohnen. “Everything goes back to the cow, and the Angus cow has always been superior as a maternal female.”

“Angus females breed back on time. They are functional, easy-fleshing, and good-uddered, can wean a calf that sells well at market and produce a premium beef product that consumers all over the world love,” said Josh.

This passion for the breed extends to the next generation, as well, as the Mohnen grandkids are learning the ropes from a young age.

“Every year, the kids gain a little more experience helping us in the business,” said Josh. “We started in 4-H this year, and Koye is really enjoying it. Every kid gets to keep one cow each year, and they get to make their own breeding decisions. It’s a learning tool for them and a way to keep them involved and have something to build upon.”

“I hope our kids love the Angus breed as much as we do, and they can continue Mohnen Angus for years to come,” Josh said. “We are very excited for our future in this business. One day, we’ll be retired and our kids will be selling the bulls in their annual sale. It’s something to look forward to.”

Yet, like all ranching families, the Mohnens have faced ups and downs. In the early 2000s, they were forced to disperse half the herd after a five-year drought left them short of grass. They’ve weathered the market swings, the inclement weather and other challenges over the years, but Steve never wavered in his goals of developing a premier Angus herd that would serve his commercial and registered breeders.

“We’ve weathered the challenges by selecting the best genetics possible each year,” he said. “I built this cow herd from the ground up; nothing was handed to me. I never chased fads, and I’ve always just focused on raising functional cattle that work in my herd. My best advice to others is to keep your mindset on what you really want and don’t look the other way.”

He said, “Don’t build your cow herd solely off the results of a 50K test. Just because a female has the best genomics scores, doesn’t mean she stays. A functional cow with a good udder, temperament, structure and feet is critical. The power is in the genetics.”

2019 Winter Cattle Journal: Barenthsen-Bullinger Red Angus

Mark Barenthsen recognizes the part his wife and daughters have played in making their cattle business what it is today—a recognition that’s reflected in the name, which is now hyphenated to include his daughter and son-in-law.  

“It’s not an ‘I’ operation, it’s a ‘we’ operation,” said Mark about Barenthsen-Bullinger Red Angus. “My wife and I have developed this together and our girls have worked hard on this too.” 

Mark and his wife, Kathy, are fourth generation cattle producers near Powers Lake in northwest North Dakota. Together with their son-in-law and daughter, Jeremy and Jessica Bullinger, the family farms small grains and raises purebred Red Angus cattle.  

“We were always a commercial operation,” Barenthsen said of the family’s ranch when his father and grandfather were in charge. 

In 1976, Barenthsen came back to the ranch and after their marriage, he and Kathy began trying out different breeds of cattle including Herefords, black baldies, Charolais, and some Simmental before deciding to focus on Red Angus.  

To make a go of it in the early years, Mark sold insurance and Kathy worked as a part-time registered nurse.  

“We wanted to make our living off the farming and ranching, so [working as a nurse] was supplemental income,” Kathy says. 

In 1993, the couple decided to go into the seedstock business and began selling purebred registered Red Angus. This February, they’ll be hosting their 20th annual sale at the ranch.  

Around ten years ago, the Bullingers joined Jessica’s parents back on the ranch.  

“I always had that desire to be back on our place,” Jessica, the oldest of the four Barenthsen girls says. “It kind of just really played out. We knew we wanted to be back here and my parents were willing to work with us.”  

The Bullingers have three children, Jaden, Avah, and Adalyn, who are also involved on the ranch and with their 4-H projects.  

Jessica isn’t the only daughter who works in agriculture; each of the Barenthsen’s daughters married farmers or ranchers and work along side their husbands at their operations.    

“Kathy and I have watched our other daughters develop their own operations and to see the kids do the same thing is the most rewarding thing to us,” Mark said.  

Together, the two families have been able to improve upon the business and expand as well.  

Barenthsen explained that they decided to stick with Red Angus because they “cover all of the bases.”  

“They have a lot of maternal value and are a little more docile—that’s a big plus for us. They clean up a lot of udder problems other breeds face as well,” he said. “One big thing that helped us decide to be in Red Angus too was the demand from other breeds. It’s a non-diluter breed so you don’t get gray colored calves and that’s a big advantage for selling bulls.” 

When the Barenthsens began raising Red Angus, the demand for the breed wasn’t that high; however, over the years they’ve seen an increase.  

“Red Angus has really been becoming more in demand,” Mark said. “We never knew it would be this strong, but it is one of the things we’ve benefited from.” 

Variations in demand for different breeds isn’t the only change they’ve witnessed.   

“There have definitely been a bunch of changes since the time that we started,” Mark said. “Earlier in our career a 500-pound calf was a good weaning weight.”  

Along with the progression and focus on a heavy weaning weight, Mark has noticed differences in what has been considered the desired frames in cattle.  

“We’ve gone through times where cows were short and thick, then in the ’80s the focus was on larger-framed cattle that were harder to keep,” he explained.  

The family’s ranch is located twenty miles south of the Canadian border, which means a harsh winter climate. “The weather can be unpredictable, so we raise cattle that are going to stay in our herd because of where we live especially,” said Jessica Bullinger.   

“We’re trying to raise cattle that can get by on less feed—less hay and grain—than we used to,” Mark said.  

Another change that has impacted the cattle industry is the increase in available technology and various tests.   

“One big change for sure was the use of EPDs and technologies. We’ve been able to develop cattle that are much more functional,” said Mark. “We’ve developed cattle that can calve on their own without any assistance where, back a few years, you’d have people hauling cattle to town to get assistance or a cesarean.” 

Jeremy Bullinger explained that their purebred operation pays special attention to developing their females. “We focus mainly on the female side of it. The maternal value in the Red Angus is what has kept us with this breed.” 

Besides developing quality cattle, Barenthsen-Bullinger Red Angus strongly focuses on serving their customers. This past June, the ranch organized and hosted a “Red Angus Feeder Calf Marketing Meeting and Supper” for producers to meet with feedlot owners from Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and South Dakota.  

At the meeting, feedlot owners discussed different natural (growth hormone-free and antibiotic-free) programs that can add value to cattle, along with talking about different areas or ways to market conventional cattle for increased profit.  

“I think these are really exciting times—there’s a lot of changes, but there’s a lot of really good avenues that we as producers can take these days to add premiums to our calves,” Jessica said.  

Mark said he feels as though they are removed from “bigger markets,” so the meeting was a way for producers in northwest North Dakota to make connections with those larger markets that are farther away.  

“They [the feed lot owners] looked at [the meeting] as an opportunity to visit an area that is overlooked and provided a place for them to develop relationships,” he said.   

Around 150 producers attended the meeting and Barenthsen says they are still receiving positive feedback about the event. “It was good to open up new opportunities for marketing for our customers—we totally enjoyed it.” 

“Customer relationships are important,” Jeremy said. Which is also why the Bullingers have began Bullinger Family Meats.  

The couple saw an opportunity for a niche market and now offer 100 percent All-Natural Red Angus Beef sold directly off of the ranch.  

“We have to be really in tune to what our customers are asking for,” Jessica said. 

The two families have also built their own feedlot, which can hold 450 head. For right now the facility is used to develop their own bulls and heifers, but Jeremy said that it could be a way to expand in the future.   

Working in agriculture is a lifestyle that both the Barenthsens and Bullingers said that they enjoy.  

“It is really fun having Jessica and Jeremy part of the operation,” Mark said. “It’s very rewarding to have family members become involved and gratifying for Kathy and I.”  

Likewise, Jeremy appreciates having his children a part of the ranch as well: “It’s just a great way of life to have our kids with us and grow and work with us. It’s a way for them to learn hard work and dedication.” 

“Cattle are important, along with caring for the land, but above and beyond all of that it’s all about seeing our family developing their lifestyle and continue in the tradition that we’ve been able to be a part of,” Mark said.  

2019 Winter Cattle Journal: Lindskov-Thiel

Les Lindskov and Brent Thiel aren’t the kind of producers that boast about their success, but with the name Lindskov-Thiel Ranch being a heavy hitter in the industry, their influence speaks for itself. The Lindskov-Thiel Ranch is a shining example of how true longevity is attained in the cattle industry and their journey goes well beyond good genetics.

Situated in the grasslands of western South Dakota, the Lindskov-Thiel Ranch raises one of the premier purebred herds in the Midwest. In addition, the Lindskov family operates one of the largest commercial herds in the country.

Maintaining a thriving seedstock business has made Lindskov-Thiel a well-known name amongst producers around the country. Comprised of two-thirds Charolais and one-third Angus, the operation has grown from the foundation laid by the Lindskov family many years ago. Les’ father, Bill Lindskov, struck out in the cattle industry in 1934 with a small herd of Hereford cattle. “Everyone started out with Hereford cattle back in the day,” Les said.

“The Lindskovs were some of the first people in South Dakota to use Charolais bulls on their commercial cows,” said Brent Thiel. “We’ve evolved from there.” Evolved may be too humble a description for the tremendous growth the Lindskov-Thiel Ranch has seen over the past 38 years since Les took over for his father.

“We’re very diversified,” said Les, “diversification is a huge part of any success.”

After working as Les’ field rep for the American National Charolais Association for several years, Brent Thiel, along with his wife, Nancy, set out on a new adventure by becoming partners with Les and his wife, Marcia. Both having a passion for producing good, solid cattle for cowmen across the country, the partnership set themselves apart by laying a solid foundation for their seedstock venture.

“Basic cow sense things are what are important to us,” said Brent. With a heavy focus on calving ease, added pounds at weaning and longevity, all the bulls from the Lindskov-Thiel Ranch are born workers. “We have several customers who have bulls that are seven to eight years old and still breeding,” said Brent.

Selling roughly 225 bulls on the third Saturday of every April, Brent said that providing “good, practical range cattle,” is what Lindskov- Thiel Ranch aims for every year. Along with herd sires, the operation prides itself on providing guaranteed heifers from their herd and proven cows to purebred producers across the country through private treaty.

Specifically noting the involvement of both his wife Nancy and Les’ wife, Marcia, Brent said that it has always been “all hands on deck” when it comes to making the ranch successful. With Nancy as the business manager and Marcia taking charge of all hospitality for the annual sale and other events, these men credit much of their success to the women working alongside them.

While having solid range cattle that are proven to produce excellent carcass merit is a major component to the success of the operation, honoring their customer base has always been a focal point of how these families do business.

Becoming actively involved with their customers, Lindskov-Thiel Ranch provides more than just an annual sale every April. Taking extra steps like listing more than 20,000 feeder calves for their customers and offering marketing for calves sired from their herd, “our actions speak for themselves,” said Brent. “We want people to get more than a good bull from us.”

Much like Brent, Les Lindskov believes that success in the cattle industry goes well beyond the cattle being marketed from an operation. Succession and letting go to make room for the next generation are things that Les knows have helped the business his father started over sixty years ago continue to thrive in a new era.

With four sons being full partners in all aspects of the Lindskov legacy, Les and Marcia took all the necessary steps to ensure the success of their children and the success of their business went hand in hand.

“My recommendation to anyone my age is to do detailed estate planning,” Les said. Despite the tedious and often grueling process that estate planning can be, the Lindskov family and the Lindskov-Thiel operation have seen benefits far outweigh the time spent orchestrating the succession.

Obviously, working with family can be hard and often leaves many ranches left without options for continued growth, but at the Lindskov-Thiel Ranch the ability to pass the torch gracefully offers a glimmer of renewed prosperity across generations. “There are always some bumps in the road, but that is part of life,” said Les. “It’s really survival of the fittest.”

Though Les isn’t ready to call himself an “old timer” just yet, his insight into the current state of the industry reflects that of someone who has spent many years watching the ups and downs cattle producers face. While offering practical advice like watching overhead when times get tough, Les feels that the biggest mistake ranches can make in this current climate is to not let go and “let their heirs take it to the next level.”

Les jokes that he’s practically bankrupt because his sons “pretty much own it all now,” but his enthusiasm for life remains fully intact as he watches the next generation step in to grow his and Marcia’s vision beyond anything they could have imagined themselves. “Material possessions mean nothing to me, so letting go wasn’t hard,” he said.

If anything, the Lindskov-Thiel Ranch proves that cattle are just one of the factors in true success in this industry. From a partnership molded over 30 years of shared passions to being willing to share the prosperity with the next generation, the Lindskov and Thiel families have become more than just solid seedstock producers in the world of cattle production.

 

 

Winter Cattle Journal 2019: Largent & Sons

To the Largents, their Kaycee, Wyoming ranch is part of a long family tradition of breeding and raising Hereford cattle that has been carried on for over 100 years. While the cattle that they stand behind mean a lot, so much so that they offer a two-year guarantee on their seedstock bulls, the fact that they are able to use the ranch to impact lives is also important to the family.

The first Largent bought his first Herefords in 1902 when Mark Largent’s great-grandfather, C.M. Largent, began to add registered Herefords to his commercial ranching operation in Texas. His son, Roy Largent, grew up with Herefords and eventually his two sons helped the family business climb in the industry under a new name, Largent and Sons. In 1970, David Largent and his sons, Steve and Mark, along with Mark’s wife, Cathy, bought a ranch near Wilsall, Montana, where they moved with both commercial and registered cattle. Twenty years later, the family relocated to Kaycee where they remain today with the seedstock herd. Steve developed health issues and moved back south, and in the 1990s, Mark began to take over more management of the ranch.

Early on, the family was very involved in showing and proved to be very successful, becoming known across the country for their Hereford cattle as David set the pace by showing at 32 major cattle shows in one year. In 1953, the family sold a bull for $25,000 and a heifer for $8,500 in Denver. After moving to Kaycee, the show ring became less of a priority and David and Mark began to focus on carcass merits, traits of reproduction, performance and efficiency in the feedlot. The program began to move in a new direction.

“It seemed some of our competition for the Hereford bull market share was from predominately Angus cattle, which are better known for more marbling than Hereford cattle in general terms,” Mark says. “We wanted them to have multiple trait superiority so we showed cattle and started carcass testing them back in the ’70s, before it kind of became a major industry focus.”

When a report came out in the late 1980s saying that one in four beef eating experiences were sub-par, the Largents doubled their carcass focus, gearing their Hereford bulls to be even better. Every year their offering improves, and in November, Mark and Cathy, along with their son David Largent and his wife Heather Largent, held their 37th annual bull sale.

“We have customers that finish their own cattle and like to retain interest, so we really focus on the marbling and ribeye area of the cattle,” Mark says. “We’ve tested our own cattle in feedlots and we do ultrasounding. We’re one of the few herds that focuses on carcass traits.”

While EPDs are not a primary driver of their selection process when choosing which bulls will make the cut for the sale, Mark says they are still an integral part of the decision making process.
“We don’t want any outliers, especially really large birth weights, and in our part of the country excessive milk can cause maintenance issues so we try to avoid outliers with our EPDs,” Mark says.

The family is unique in that they are the only Hereford bull producer they know of to offer a two-year guarantee on all bulls sold, something Mark credits to the bulls growing up in a somewhat harsher environment than most and because they simply believe in their product.

“The Hereford cattle were trending a little less popular in the late ’80s and ’90s with the infusion of all the exotic cattle and so, to help our customers feel better about continuing to purchase Hereford bulls versus the exotics, we decided to go with the two-year guarantee,” Mark says.

The Largents don’t pamper or baby the cattle but instead make them work hard so that when they get to their new owners, they know how to work no matter what their new environment is and, besides that, Mark and David are both bivocational pastors and must be in town Sundays and Wednesdays, during youth group, church camps and vacation bible school, so it’s important that all the cattle be able to “work on their own” in a sense.

“The bulls have to have good bone and good thickness and be able to maintain condition even while they are working,” Mark says. “Our particular country here, we don’t hay the cows in the winter time, they’re pretty much on their own. Occasionally we’ll have some protein supplement that we put out for them but our operation is primarily geared so the cattle don’t have to have a lot of maintenance.

In a sense, the Largents have production goals for their ranch and family goals, both of which tie together.

“Going forward, our goal is to continue a family tradition,” Heather says. Her oldest son is planning on returning to the ranch as soon as he saves up enough money to buy into it. “There aren’t many family ranches left and we want to impact as many lives as we can through what we do.”

Through breeding better bulls and focusing on carcass merit, and through learning what customers want and what works for them, Mark says they tweak the program accordingly to keep doing their part to move the Hereford breed forward.

“Our primary customer base is people with black hided cattle, and the Hereford Angus cross, the black baldy, has proven to be the most profitable cross in the industry,” Mark says.

While it can feel like an uphill battle sometimes because the cattle industry is given to fads and swings, just like any other industry, Mark says that the best they can do is continue to stay the course as breeders and continue to raise a product that customers want and raise Herefords that not only will improve the breed, but mix and match well with other breeds.

“We talk about how we can help the Hereford breed, but actually the Hereford breed has also helped us through the years,” Heather says. “Really the breed exactly, but the people who have come along side us in times of need as well.”

 

2019 Winter Cattle Journal: Taubenheim Gelbvieh

Every year on the first Monday in February, beef producers gather at the Taubenheim ranch for their annual Gelbvieh and Balancer bull and female sale. While many of the bulls stay in Nebraska, some of them are sold into the surrounding states, even to as far away as California. Repeat buyers, who trust the Taubenheim genetics, make up a large percentage of the sales. 

But the Taubenheim family hasn’t always raised beef cattle. Dale and Jeannette Taubenheim of Amherst, Nebraska owned a dairy and showed dairy cattle.  

Their son Mike, while in college, began researching the different breeds of beef cattle. He was impressed with the many traits of the Gelbvieh breed, the docility, heavy muscling, good milk production and mothering abilities. On the advice of a cattle semen representative, Mike purchased two bred heifers from Jim Wilson of Mankato, Kansas in 1982 and they each had a bull calf. “Back in the early eighties a calf brought around maybe 480 dollars. I sold the bull calves for $3,700,” Mike Taubenheim said.   

“We had about 200 head in the ’90s and run 600 registered cows now. I try to raise a more efficient cow, who will do more with less.”  

The Taubenheims were some of the first to cross their Gelbvieh cows with top Black Angus sires, resulting in Balancer cattle. The Balancer genetics offer producers the ability to crossbreed their herds, taking advantage of heterosis, higher weight gains and the hybrid vigor. At their annual sale, they sell 100 yearling bulls, 25 Gelbvieh, with the remainder Balancer bulls. They also offer 45 bred heifers, right out of their own replacement pen. “These are heifers that are bred just a little later than we like, and some might already have calved by the sale so buyers are able to see what they are bidding on,” said Justin Taubenheim, Mike’s son. 

In December of 2018 the family decided to try something different by offering eleven heifers and one steer on www.AngusLive.com, an online cattle auction site. The halter broke yearlings were ready for some young person to show and maybe eventually become embryo donor cows. 

Mike and his family usually artificially inseminate 400-500 females to some of the beef industry’s top bulls and implant around 200 embryos a year. They calve in January so the bulls they sell are old enough and ready to go to work. 

Mike and his wife Renee have five children, four sons and one daughter: Justin, Tanner, Sydney, Seth and Kale. Oldest son Justin and his wife Janelle have two kids and Tanner and his wife Kelli have one. The Taubenheims have always shown cattle, competing almost every year at the Junior National Show and the National Western Stock Show among other stock shows. The Taubenheim cattle bring home many grand champion Balancer and Gelbvieh female and bull pennants and awards. The NWSS gives prospective buyers a chance to see some of the sale offerings early with the show bulls being included in the production sale. “I feel showing cattle really helped to make our kids who they are today,” Mike said. 

Dale and Jeannette Taubenheim are still active in the day-to-day operations. Dale, at 76, runs the combine, and Jeannette drives the grain cart during harvest and works with Justin to register the calves and put together the sale catalogs. Mike’s son Tanner is hoping soon to be able to return full time to the operation.   

In addition to raising quality bulls, the Taubenheim family farms a thousand acres and runs their own 400 head feedyard. They finish out their own cattle and purchase some of their bull customers’ calves to keep the pens full. The fat cattle are sold on the grid in Lexington, Nebraska at Tyson Meats. “We sell a load at a time, 40 head fits on the truck. Our cattle grade high with 94 percent yielding choice or higher and 91 percent are 1s or 2s. We are rewarded for how each carcass yields and also for being in the Certified Angus Beef program. We’re committed to making the best product we can from start to finish,” Justin said. 

Justin hopes to be able to grow the feedyard and one day buy and finish more of their customers’ calves. 

The Taubenheims like being able to follow the cattle through the feedlot and see all the data on each animal. “We are confident in what our cattle can do, and this way we can provide more data and information to our bull customers,” Justin says.  

Making that information available to both buyers and consumers is going to be a big part of the future of the industry, Justin says.  

“We need to tell our story to the public. Let people know we have a passion to raise quality food and beef. We should take advantage of every chance we have to talk to strangers, tell them about our way of life, and get the true information out there,” said Mike. “As producers, stay true to your roots, breed for soundness and fleshing ability, more rib and muscle. EPDs aren’t everything; it all starts at the ground.” 

Justin agrees.  “As producers we need to roll with the punches, and use the technology available to us. We need to follow through, vaccinate and give the cattle the best chance to flourish in our environment. The world is growing fast, there are and will be a lot of mouths to feed, beef producers are all in it together. There are a lot of changes coming to the industry and people are willing to pay for information. We should provide information and data and show the strict guidelines we have to follow. We need to work together to sell what we have for the most money.”