Taubenheim Gelbvieh: From the milk parlor to the show ring
March 12, 2019
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 first milked cows and showed their dairy cattle.
Their son Mike, while in college, began researching 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 http://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.
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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.
This year's reserve grand champion Gelbvieh steer was Mr Outright 59E, was owned by Kale Taubenheim, Amherst, Nebraska and weighed 1,375 pounds.
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. Forty 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."