2002 Commercial Producer Award Nominees
Reeves and Betsy Brown
Our operation is rooted in generations of pride and passion for the lifestyle and challenges of the livestock business. Progressive family attitudes toward research and natural resource management, coupled with studies in Animal Science and Ag Business at Texas Tech University helped steer us to this point of achievement. Observation of our family's registered and commercial Hereford operation during the 1940's and 1950's, seeing them remain dedicated to the principles of economic return rather than to follow popular fashion in selecting herd genetics; along with another father successful in the feedlot business, were valuable examples in establishing our rules and priorities for success in the cattle business. Our present operation is located on 10,000 plus acres in western Pueblo County, Colorado in the foothills of the Wet Mountain Range of the Rocky Mountains. We moved hear in 1981 from our first ranch operation in Central Texas. The 3R Ranch elevation varies from 5,700 feet to 7,800 feet, is roughly 60% prairie and 40% timber, supports a combination of short, medium and tall grasses, averages 15.2 inches of rainfall and 100 inches of snow annually. We own an excellent irrigation water right of 26.2 second feet which will irrigate up to 1,300 acres depending upon the amount of snow pack. Our bred females number between 650 and 700 head, calve from April 20th to June 5th after a 45-day natural breeding season. We also raise between 100 and 125 replacement heifers annually. We are integrated through the packer level with membership in US Premium Beef Cooperative. We adhere to Beef Quality Assurance principles, practice individual identification on all animals and strive to make carcass quality and yield, along with consumer preference, our production and marketing guide. We are presently attempting to place a conservation easement on the ranch to preserve its productivity, integrity and natural beauty in order to allow future generations of ranchers to have the opportunity to experience the joy and satisfaction of the lifestyle offered here.
Oklahoma Department of Correction, Dick Davis, Manager
Oklahoma City, OK
The Division operates 10 agriculture units, in all regions of the state, ranging in size from 1500 acres to 6800 for a total of 26,000 acres. Some of the units are as young as 15 years old and as old as 93; beef production has been the top priority since 1909. The Division has grown to a total herd size of 2,800 head with 2,000 head of breeding age females and two registered herds, one Beefmaster and one Gelbvieh, used to produce the bulls needed to cover the commercial cows.
The breeding system is a very simple two-breed rotation. Beefmaster-sired females kept as replacement heifers are bred to Gelbvieh bulls and Gelbvieh-sired females are bred to Beefmaster bulls. Backing up this breeding program is an extensive set of breeding records on the commercial cows. A 90-day breeding season is still maintained; no A.I. is used on the commercial herds and the pastures are rough and large. The system is critical of the type of female that remains in the herd. The two most critical areas for culling are not weaning enough pounds of beef and extending her length of breeding cycle three consecutive years. Either of these will cost a female her place in the herd.
With the help of the Oklahoma State University, USDA and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, a sample of steers (ten from each unit, five Beefmaster and five Gelbvieh sired) is tested each year for forage gain, feed conversion and carcass quality to include tenderness. The number of animals tested each time is not large enough to have a significant bearing on the industry, but results give us direction in achieving our production and efficiency goals.
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Click here to visit the Oklahoma Department of Correction Agri-Services Division Web site.
Botetourt , VA
Alpine Farms is located along the James River in Botetourt and Rockbridge Counties in the southern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Walter Nelson and one full-time employee operate this beautiful farm of 600 acres of open ground that varies from river bottom to mountain pasture. The farm currently sustains 210 cow-calf pairs in addition to replacement heifers, bulls being developed for sale, stockers, and 275 ewes. Walter managed the farm from 1983-87 and then took the opportunity to purchase the cattle and continue to farm the land. The Angus based spring calving herd utilizes controlled grazing and strives to be a low input cost herd. Alpine Farms' cattle have been cooperator herd for both university research and an AI stud and uses estrous synchronization for AI and ET programs. Like many farm families, Walter works full time on the farm while his wife works off of the farm. She and the children contribute to labor and decision-making and keep a full schedule including 4-H projects.
Amana Farms, Inc.
John McGrath, Manager
The ancestors of the Amana people first came to the United States in 1842, settling near Buffalo, New York. The group soon sought land further west, and in 1855 established the Amana Colonies in eastern Iowa. By 1865, seven villages were established on nearly 26,000 acres.
On arrival in America, the group adopted a religious communal way of life. In 1932, the people voted to end the communal way of life. They created Amana Church Society to direct matters of their faith, and the Amana Society, Inc. to oversee their business and farming operations.
The Amana Farms Beef Division is just one of the divisions of the Amana Society, Inc. A herd of 2,200 Gelbvieh/Angus crossbred cows that are bred to Charolais bulls is maintained on the farms 6,000 acres of pasture. The Beef Division Manager is responsible for developing an annual budget as well as monthly forecasts predicting financial success of the business.
Producing replacement heifers and feeder cattle and developing bred heifers is the focus of the four herd supervisors. Sixty percent of the cows calve in April and May. The remaining 40% calve in August and September.
The operation also has a 3,000 head feedyard that it is uses to finish its calves, develop its breeding heifers and custom feed cattle. The Amana Society also markets beef under its own brand name in Midwestern grocery stores.
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John and Terry Griffith, Connie Griffith
Our family has been raising beef cattle here in northwest Kansas since 1878. Located in an area averaging 22" of moisture per year, our land is now split almost evenly between dryland cultivation and native range. Our cow-calf herd dovetails with our farming operation, allowing us to more efficiently utilize land, labor, and machinery.
We annually calve about 250 Angus and high percentage Red Angus cows, with heifers calving in 30 days starting in early February, and the cows in 45-50 days starting in March. We sell enough pairs in April to summer the balance on about 2,000 acres of native grass. After weaning in early September, cows are wintered on stockpiled grass and crop residue until calving. They receive prairie hay, sorghum hay, and alfalfa until green-up.
Steers are backgrounded at home, then fed to finish at a commercial feedlot and sold in the meat on a quality grid. Replacement heifers are wintered on grass and stalks with a minimum supplement of a high-fiber pellet. We sell about 30 registered bulls after developing them on grass, stalks, cane hay, and the same high-fiber pellet.
We make extensive use of A.I. on both heifers and cows, and raise all our own replacement females.
Our goal is to develop a self-sustaining herd of efficient, well-adapted cows producing desirable end products, whether replacement seedstock or quality carcasses. We believe that kind of cattle will optimize our profitability.
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Indian Knoll Cattle Co.
Kevin and Penny Bliler
Indian Knoll Cattle Co. is a family owned and operated cow/calf operation located in central Illinois, in the heart of corn and soybean country. Kevin is a third generation beef seedstock producer.
Expansion of the cattle enterprises began in 1996, and the purebred herd of 80 Hereford cows served as the foundation seedstock for the commercial heifer development program that has become the focus of the operation. High quality red and black Angus bulls were used to produce outstanding replacement heifers that have been retained within the herd. In addition to the commercial herd, a purebred herd of Red Angus is maintained. Currently, Indian Knoll Cattle Co. maintains 225 females.
Since 1996 carcass data and feed efficiency has been recorded and tracked on steers through retained ownership and cooperation with feedlots. Indian Knoll genetics have proven to consistently produce very high quality carcasses. However, the focus of the herd continues to target the commercial female market, of which there is a tremendous demand for in Illinois.
Two thirds of the cows calve March/April and one third calve September/October. To meet the expanding pasture and forage needs, the Bliler's have been seeding marginal cropland to pastureland. As operation continues to expand, winter annuals are being utilized in crop residue to lengthen the grazing season and reduce winter feed costs.
In addition to the cattle operation, Kevin and his brother Mike farm 2000 acres in row crops.
Miles Land & Livestock Co.
Jim & Peggy Price
Miles Land & Livestock Co., located 25 southwest of Casper in central Wyoming is a fourth generation family owned and operated business. Peggy's grandfather homesteaded in the area in the early 1900's starting with 160 acres of land. He first raised horses, then later cattle and sheep. This was the start of the present day Miles Land and Livestock Co. The ranch is a diversified operation with a 2,150 head commercial herd of Limousin/ Charolais cross cattle and a 3,500 head feedlot that offers us feeding and marketing options. We also farm around 1,100 acres of irrigated land to provide corn for silage, oats and alfalfa hay for the confined feedlot and to supplement the cowherd through the winter months. We feed our own cattle, and custom feed for others. We also offer a "Heifer back grounding and A.I. service" that has been successful for a growing number of customers. The cows are wintered along the North Platte River, range calved in March, and then trailed 35 miles to summer pasture. The calves are weaned in September and brought to the feedlot. We retain approximately 20% of our heifers for replacements. The remaining calves are marketed to programs wanting an all-natural product. The ranch consists of approximately 21,027 acres of Deeded lands, 5,753 acres of BLM and 12,027 acres of State land. The ranch headquarters, feedlot, irrigated croplands and winter pasture are located in the Alcova area. The cropland portion of the ranch borders approximately eight miles of the North Platte River. The summer pastures are located 35 miles east of the main ranch on the headwater of the Bates Creek drainage with approximately nine miles of creeks flowing though it. This spring we will implement an intensive grazing program on one of the center pivot irrigation systems. We plan to run 400 pairs under this 190-acre sprinkler from mid May through September. We are continually striving to implement new innovative programs into our operation. It is the dedication and hard work of our family that accounts for the success of this ranching operation.
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Shovel Dot Ranch
Larry and Nickie Buell, Homer and Darla Buell
Shovel Dot Ranch is located in North Central Nebraska on the eastern edge of the Sandhills. It was established in 1883 by Benjamin Franklin Buell and presently has the 5th generation, Larry's daughter and son-in-law and Homer's son and daughter-in-law, working on the ranch. We operate 28,000 acres with 25,000 acres owned and 3000 acres leased. Of those, about 2000 are sub-irrigated meadow, 240 acres are under center pivot in alfalfa, and the rest is native unimproved grazing land. We have a commercial cow calf herd, a backgrounding operation, and run stockers on grass. Our cows, which are Hereford, Angus or crosses thereof, whose numbers can vary from year to year but are presently 1,423 head, begin calving in late April with our heifers starting a few weeks earlier. Charolais bulls are used as a terminal cross on some of the cows. The calves are weaned in late September and early October, graze on sub-irrigated meadow regrowth until November then are moved to our backgrounding lots for the winter. In early May calves go to grass and are marketed through the Bassett Livestock Auction in late June, July, and August when the prices for yearling are traditionally the highest. During the fall we buy steers, some are marketed when they weigh 850 pounds and some are finished in a commercial lot. The cows are grazed most of the year and fed hay and supplement in the winter when the snow is deep or the grazing runs short.
Torbert Farms, Ltd.
C.C. "Bo" Torbert
Torbert Farms is a diversified farming operation located 8 1/2 miles south of Opelika, Alabama in the Beauregard Community. The original farm was some of the first homesteaded land in eastern Alabama by Torbert ancestors. Today, the farm consists of 6,000 acres supporting cattle, timber, cotton and wildlife game hunting. The cow/calf operation consists of 233 Angus based cows, an embryo transfer recipient cow program for local purebred herds and a heifer development and steer backgrounding station for local commercial herds. Cows are divided into three breeding groups per year: recipient cows, AI and natural service. Quality Angus or Simmental bulls purchased from Alabama BCIA members are used as natural service and clean-up sires. Calves are born from late October through January each year with the ET calves being born first. The percentage of the herd utilized in the ET and AI programs is dependent on the number of ET calves desired by local purebred producers. Replacement heifers for this herd are primarily selected from AI born calves. In addition, Torbert Farms annually develops 200 to 250 replacement heifers for the Piedmont BCIA Heifer Program and other commercial producers utilizing byproduct feeds and winter grazing. Heifers are sold through Alabama BCIA Heifer sales, private treaty or retained in the herd. After weaning, steers are backgrounded and then marketed through the Piedmont Marketing Association Board Sale each August. Steers from other producers are also backgrounded at Torbert Farms for the Board Sale, which generally markets 1200 to 1500 feeder cattle each year. Complete performance and financial information is analyzed on this herd yearly to assist in selection and culling decisions. All cattle are raised under strict beef quality assurance and herd health standards to ensure a safe consistent product.
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Craig and Margaret White
White Farms is a 1,125-acre cattle and crops operation near Estherville, Iowa. Craig and Margaret White started farming with Craig's father in 1969 and purchased the farm where they now live in 1973.
The Whites own a 225-head commercial herd of Angus-crossed cows and a 400-head one-time capacity feedlot. The cowherd produces terminal crosses of Angus-Charolais or Angus-Simmental for the feedlot. Replacement females are primarily Angus-based.
Most of the 550 acres of corn and soybeans are grown for the cowherd and the 550 head of fed cattle marketed annually. About 450 acres of permanent pasture and 125 acres of hay ground protect the highly erodible, clay-based soils on the White's operation in the watershed area of the West Fork of the Des Moines River in northwest Iowa.
Calving season for the White's cowherd is from April 1 to June 1. Heifers and cows are all calved on pastures to coincide with spring green-up. To protect sloping land, the Whites have converted crop acres to hay and an extensive rotational grazing system to provide the highest quality forages throughout the season for their cowherd.
Craig White is the third generation to raise cattle in this area. His son, Brad in continuing the family tradition and is in partnership with his grandfather, Arthur White, Craig's' father.
The Whites operate their farm with the help of Randy Nissen and his wife, Lorie. A 15-year veteran employee, Randy does and "awesome" job helping with the crops and cattle says Craig.
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Voyles Farms, Inc.
Norman Voyles and Family
In 1828, Moses Voyles homesteaded an 80-acre parcel of land about four miles southeast of Martinsville, in Morgan County, Indiana. The succeeding six generations of the Voyles family have continued farming that land and added considerably more. Today, the participating family members of the Voyles Farms, Inc. (VFI) Darrell, his brother Norman Sr. (semi-retired), and Norman's sons, Norman Jr. and Jim plant and harvest 1900+ acres of corn and soybeans and manage a commercial cow/calf herd of about 105 females.
Typically, 75-80% of females exposed to bulls will calve in March, the remainder in April and early May. A three breed rotational cross system has been used since 1990 consisting of Angus, Simmental, and Limousin bulls. For over 30 years, all replacement females have been raised. All steers and any heifers not selected as replacement females are either fed by the Voyles or placed in the Indiana Beef Evaluation and Economics Feed Program (IBEEF).
Voyles Farm, Inc. has been participated in the Indiana IRM program since 1994, the IBEEF program since 1997 and in 2001 became a partner in the Washing County (Indiana) Quality Beef Partnership, an alliance of several southern Indiana cow/calf operations.
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