Saturday, February 2, 2013

That's No Bull

Guest post from Adam

One thing I’ve never really talked in depth about is the selection of bulls for our herd. Selecting good genetics is the most important thing in having a long lasting, productive cow herd. Traits we look for when choosing bulls start with how good of females they will produce. We want daughters out of these bulls to have good milk production, udder quality and good mothering ability. If you don’t choose bulls to make productive cows, you can’t make productive calves and productive heifers to keep and make more productive calves. It’s a big circle.

For about ten years, my dad and I have bought bulls from Swearngin Angus in Lawrence, Kansas. They raise bulls for the ordinary cattleman, which produces extraordinary results. Bulls are raised on a forage-based diet; they don’t pump them full of corn to look good at the sale and then fall apart when they go home to work. Their bulls have added consistency, profitability and awesomeness to our herd!

Just today Melissa and I went to the annual Swearngin Angus bull sale at the ranch. Melissa’s two uncles, aunt, and her two cousins own and operate this cattle company. Tom Swearngin and Craig Guffey are Melissa’s uncles and they've built a reputation for breeding stock that work in the real world and they've been selling bulls for 24 years. Tom and Craig can tell you numbers and they can go back to the bull’s great-great grandmother and grandfather without looking that up. They can recall all of that information because they are out there working with their cattle everyday.  They’ve studied the bloodlines and culled out the characteristics they see as undesirable. Tom and Craig know what works and what doesn't and they can tell you everything you ever want to know about a calf until they’re blue in the face and until you’re confused out of your mind. But the truth is, they know what they’re talking about. They know the Angus breed front to back. I know that from first hand experience.

Today I bought bulls 12 and 13 (pictured at the top of this post) from Tom and Craig. Those weren’t the lot numbers from the sale, those are the 12th and 13th bulls we’ve bought from Swearngin Angus since we started buying from them ten years ago. There’s a reason we keep going back to them. You may be thinking, number 12 and 13 bulls in ten years, that's a pretty high turnover rate. The thing is, between my dad and I, we have 11 bulls. Our pasture size doesn’t allow us to put 35-40 cows with a bull. It’s more like 15-20 per pasture. My dad and I have our own separate bulls, but we still buy bulls from the same place. He has bought bulls from other producers over the years, which is fine, but out of our 11 bulls right now, 7 are from Tom and Craig.

In the last post I talked about selling calves. That was a great 15 minutes and we got paid very well and that’s all fine and good. Now three days later I’m spending $9400 on buying two bulls. That’s right folks- one bull cost $5,400 and one cost $4,000. That may sound like a lot……and IT IS! Holy cow that’s a lot of money, (pun intended). But, on the same hand the calves that we sold averaged over $1,100 a piece across the board. You just have to think of it as reinvesting your money into your herd to make it that much better. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

As Melissa and I have said in previous posts, production agriculture, whether it be row crop or livestock, is a very rewarding profession but it also involves a lot of money and risk. Buying these bulls today, I spent a lot of money. But from 10 years of my own experience with their cattle, I know I will get my money back over and over again…….and that’s no bull.

Getting everything ready to go before the sale. Craig was going
over the rules of the cowboy style auction.
Melissa's Uncle, Craig Guffey, was the auctioneer for the sale.
Melissa's Aunt Kim and her cousin Gavin are also in the picture. 
This is the pen of bulls I bid on. I bought two bulls from this pen.
It was a full house at the sale. 

Tom, Gavin, and Kim.
Grant wasn't able to be here because he had a basketball tournament. 
Melissa and I with Gavin in the pen of bulls we bought.
One of the bulls we bought was owned by Gavin. 
The bulls are so docile. This is a testament to how much Tom, Craig,
and the boys are out working with their cattle each day. 

1 comment:

  1. Do you guys do much A.I.? or just use bulls? Looks like they had decent weather for the sale.


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