"Whelp, We Bought a Bull!"
For the past year, Bryce has been doing extensive research on purebred cattle. Particularly Black Angus.
We had chatted with our close friends who have a registered herd, an artificial insemination expert and well-known ranchers in the breed. Angus was our pick.
Why Black Angus?
Black Angus is America's finest beef on the market. As well, the Angus Association prides themselves as "The Business Breed" and the goal is to bring a superior genetics that generate great profitability. We essentially want to produce the best beef, bulls and heifers to our herd.
The Angus Association has done a phenomenal job collecting data from these purebred cattle to formulate Estimated Progeny Differences (AKA EPDs).
Don't know what an EPD is?? Basically, data is collected from cattle by blood or tissue samples and processed and analyzed in a lab to project that calf's expected performance against other cattle. As well, the data collected on that calf is also utilized in the parent's EPD score to further analyze performance within the breed.
Bryce is very EPD savvy. I on the other hand, need a cheatsheet and a cup of coffee to really understand and focus on the numbers. However, it is beneficial to our business and our herd. We are working towards a product that benefits many sectors within the industry. Quality beef for consumers and profitable herds for local ranchers.
Our end goal is to provide Certified Angus Beef as well as superior bulls and bred heifers for our community and fellow ranchers.
To earn the CAB logo, the very best of all Angus beef must meet 10 standards, making it more selective than USDA Choice and Prime. The numbers don't lie, and they are a great guide to know exactly what to expect in the end product.
Bryce was digging deep in the Angus world by speaking with producers all across the United States and doing his homework online and in bull catalogs. He signed up for our first ever auction, which was online on the Superior Livestock.
The Gardiner Angus Ranch Auction was at the end of January and it was raining that day. The kids and I were counting coins in their piggy bank because I told them months prior that on a rainy day, I would teach them how to count change. They didn't forget that promise I made.
After maybe 45 minutes, Bryce walks in with a paper he printed and said "Whelp, we bought a bull."
We had no idea what happened next other that we would most likely get contacted by someone to collect our payment. Sure enough, someone called and we got it all settled.
The Heifers (AKA a female who has not had a calf yet)
Meanwhile, as we were waiting to get our bull shipping figured out, we sold part of our original herd. My dad gifted us 10 head of heifers as our wedding gift in 2014. It was bitter sweet, but we needed to make that move in order to diversify and improve our herd and genetic potential. Luckily, we sold our girls and a few calves to good friends just down the road. We turned that money plus some savings around and invested in a 9 registered Black Angus heifers from Central California.
Three of the girls are already bred and due to calve in September. The rest, we will AI (artificial inseminate) with the rest of our herd late April or early May and use our new bull as a "clean-up bull" (which is a bull that will breed any cow/heifer who didn't get pregnant through AI. We just needed to get the bull to our ranch.
Back to the Bull
Next step was to get the bull here. We discovered that truck drivers are contracted through these large seed-stock (purebred/breeding cattle) operations to ship large loads of cattle through out the United States. They have several locations they stop and drop off bulls to their new owners. We were in contact with our driver and he told us where he would be in the coming days to pick up our bull.
Bryce drove up north 3 hours to pick up our bull we call "Ashland." I remember getting a late night text from Bryce and he said "We have our bull!" with a photo of Mr. Handsome Ashland in the trailer. He got home around 1am and unloaded Ashland at my dad's ranch across the street.
The next morning we went down to my dad's ranch to see our bull. He was massive for an 18 month old bull. Super beefy and gorgeous. My dad had some weaned heifer calves in the next pen that were literally twitterpated for him. It was like watching a bunch of high school girls observing from afar a shirtless football player run laps around a field, in slow motion.
We brought Ashland to our place a few days later and he now hangs out with our steers and bred heifers until we AI everyone. After AI is complete, we will release him to do his job and be a sire.
This Angus thing has been a eye opening experience. It is so interesting to see potential on paper and have an idea of what you will produce as a rancher. We look forward to the next few years as we learn, network and grow to build a Black Angus herd.