Producing a high premium
It’s been more than 20 years since Jordan and Justin Holt’s late father, Derald, brought the first Chianina females to their Aberdeen, SD farm. At that time, the Holts primarily used the cattle for 4-H projects and then retained them in their herd.
In the mid-90s, the Holts purchased some Chiangus females with bloodlines developed by Deiter Brothers at Faulkton, SD. Within a couple of years, Holt Bros. began successfully developing genetics that feature structurally sound animals that also possess superior show ring qualities and produce excellent carcasses.
“One of the main reasons we chose to use Chiangus bulls is that the cross combines the best of both the Chianina and Angus breeds,” Jordan says. “We’ve captured the Supreme Champion Chiangus Female award at the Black Hills Stock Show four of the last six years, winning it three consecutive years from 2004 through 2006. Among the reasons the judges have chosen our cattle is the extremely feminine traits of our Chiangus females. They have a lot of volume and body depth to them. They’re very structurally sound cattle, with good dispositions.”
In 2009 Holt Bros. again netted the Grand Champion Chiangus Female at the Black Hills Stock Show. They’ve also picked up top awards at Louisville’s North American International Livestock Exposition and numerous other livestock shows featuring Chiangus cattle.
“The Chianina breed is known for show ring style,” Jordan says. “They’re also known around the world for the quality of their carcass. With our genetics, buyers find the cattle marble real well but there’s very little waste to the carcass. In the cattle market right now, we’re able to provide the lean, flavorful beef consumers and packers are looking for and the profit potential cattlemen need to stay in business.”
The American Chianina Association was officially established in 1972. The breed originated in Italy. When demand for cattle with more growth, lean meat and less fat began gaining momentum in the 1960s and early 1970s, Chianina were one of the cattle breeds imported to Canada in an effort to meet that need. Breeders crossing Chianina with Angus cattle found great calving ease due to the Chianina slender build. They were also impressed with the vitality and weaning weights of the calves, which approached the size of their mother by weaning time. Carcass quality of the crossbred calves was said to be “off the charts” in terms of flavor, marbling and lack of waste.
Sales for half-bloods were very strong at the outset. Registered Chianina bulls have continued to produce genetics resulting in high quality animals with maximum red meat yields.
In their approximately 150-head herd, Holt Bros. maintain about a 25 percent Chianina influence in their females. In order to focus closely on their seedstock business, the brothers rent out their cropland and purchase feed for their cattle.
“About one third of our cows produce club calves,” Jordan says. “We offer about 30 of the five-month-old calves in our annual September pasture sale. The calves are predominantly from registered Chiangus females. We’ve selected specific bulls to sire those calves and have used artificial insemination for the past 20 years to achieve our genetic goals with the calves.”
By flushing about 10 of their donor females, the Holt’s are able to produce a maximum number of high quality animals. They use cooperator herds and some of their own females to implant the embryos.
“Next year we’ll have about 20 embryo calves on the ground,” Justin says. “That’s just one tool we’re using to accelerate our program. We’re always monitoring the females with bloodlines that are working real well to ensure we’re reproducing the kind of cattle that are in demand. Both embryo transplants and AI have proven to be valuable tools in our business.”
At their annual private treaty spring bull sale, Holt Bros. offers registered Chiangus bulls and some Chimaine bulls. Among the marketing tools they’ve used to promote their genetics are appearances at livestock shows.
“We’ve sold cattle in Canada and 15 different states, as far away as Florida,” Jordan says. “Folks who live that far away don’t generally attend our sales. The shows give them an opportunity to see the results of our genetic program. We usually attend the Denver Stock Show, the Black Hills Stock Show, the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic and the Watertown Farm Show.”
Holt Bros. consists of Jordan and his wife Michelle and their daughters Haleigh and Maggie. Jordan’s brother Justin and his mother Karen are also involved in the operation.
“Our main focus has been to strive to raise cattle that produce a high premium,” Justin says. “We always aim to sell above market value. That philosophy was developed when my grandfather Joie and my father raised registered Hereford bulls. My family has always appreciated highly profitable registered cattle. We still have a couple of cows in our herd with bloodlines that trace back to those original Hereford genetics.”
The loss of their father in 2006 reinforced Jordan and Justin’s passion for continuing the seedstock tradition that their father and grandfather developed so many years ago.
“It’s a lot of work but we’ve been able to sell some of our females, bulls and steers for a very profitable premium,” Jordan says. “It’s very rewarding to know that all our work produces such valuable animals and that others appreciate the value of what we’re doing too.”
for more information, visit http://www.showsteers.com/holt/index.htm
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