Bushy Park Farm Cattle Company: 2011 Black Hills Stock Show Supreme Champion Bull

Gayle Smith
Courtesy photoA group of spring calving cows at Bushy Park Farms Cattle Company.

Exhibiting cattle at major shows has proven to be a great way to develop name recognition and new customers, according to the 2011 Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS) Supreme Champion Bull winner.

Cory Thomsen, general manager of Bushy Park Farm Cattle Company in Mitchell, SD, says they try to bring a heifer or bull to the BHSS each year.

“Last year, we actually had the honor of showing the champion Simmental bull. It was an added bonus when he went on to be named the Supreme Champion at the Black Hills Stock Show,” Thomsen says.

For Bushy Park Farm Cattle Company, BHSS represents more than just showing cattle.

“I think it is good for us to get out there and show our cattle because it allows us to compare how our cattle stack up to the rest of the industry,” Thomsen explains. “It also gives us an opportunity to show the general public how our program compares to others.”

The cattle operation has garnered more than their share of customers from showing cattle. “The Black Hills Stock Show has been a very good place for us to market our cattle,” Thomsen says. “The sale draws a wide variety of cattlemen and future customers for us, so it makes sense for us to sell there. It also gives us an opportunity to get our name and cattle out in front of people and represent our program.”

In addition to the BHSS, Bushy Park also exhibits cattle at other large cattle shows like Denver, Louisville, Kansas City and Fort Worth. “We have developed a lot of contacts for future sales just by exhibiting at these shows,” Thomsen says. “I look at it as an opportunity for another customer to see your cattle and buy one from your program.”

Exhibiting at shows across the U.S. has drawn more customers to their sales. “We are four states away from having customers in all 50 states,” he says. “We also have customers in other countries who have purchased our cattle.”

Bushy Park Farm holds a club calf sale each year in September, followed by a production sale featuring heifers in October. They also sell nearly 100 bulls each year through a series of online sales from February through March. “Other seedstock producers may purchase our top end of each breed, but probably 80 percent of our bulls are sold to commercial operations,” he explains.

“We started out with seedstock purebred Maine-Anjou cattle, but we’ve become more diversified in the last few years,” Thomsen says. “We have branched out into Simmental, Angus and Hereford genetics. It seems like the Maine breed is smaller, and so we have diversified into some larger British breeds. We added an exotic breed, Simmental, to try and reach a wider audience.”

No matter which breed they raise, Thomsen says all the cattle are selected for basically the same characteristics.

“We like deep-sided, moderate-frame, easy-fleshing cattle that can convert really well with today’s feed costs,” he explains. “We like to select cattle for phenotype, but we also keep an eye on birthweight. When selecting a herd sire, about 80 percent is on phenotype, soundness, structure and muscularity. We do not select cattle strictly on [expected progeny differences, EPDs], especially based on a specific trait.”

Bushy Park operates an extensive artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer (ET) program, which includes 150 donor type cows. “We harvest about 700 embryos each year, and sell about 250 of those through national breed shows and events,” he explains. “We put the balance of them in our own cows. We calve about 300 embryo cows each year.”

The ranch has both spring and fall herds, calving January through March, and September through October. Thomsen says the bulls produced are weaned the first part of October, placed on grass and supplemented with some creep feed until the first of December.

“At that point, we start them on a bunk ration of hay, corn gluten, cracked corn and a balancer pellet. They are fed that ration through delivery,” he says. Bulls produced from the fall herd are sold at 18 months of age, while spring bulls are sold as yearlings. Thomsen says before bulls are sold, they are evaluated for thickness and quality.

“We like to see some performance and depth of body in the bulls,” he says. “Those that don’t make the cut are steered and sold in December or January.”

As the operation continues to grow and diversify, Thomsen says they are constantly looking to produce better cattle.

“We are always striving to find new and better genetics than what we currently have no matter what breed of cattle we are dealing with,” Thomsen says. “We hope we raise those genetics, but if we don’t we aren’t afraid to go and buy those genetics and put them into our program. We feel it gives our program an advantage because the genetics we are using in all of our breeds are very cutting edge, and I think they are as good as any anyone is using in the business.”

Editor’s note: For more information about Bushy Park Farm Cattle Company, visit Thomsen can be reached at 888-502-7322.